Alumna Sophie Bernstein ’21 publishes new paper on domoic acid transfer in marine food webs

Congrats to MLML Ichthyology Lab alumna Sophie Bernstein ’21 on the publication of her thesis research in the scientific journal Harmful Algae!

Domoic acid (DA) is a harmful marine biotoxin produced by algae that accumulates in shellfish and other marine species, especially during harmful algal blooms (HAB). In their study, Sophie and co-authors, including research faculty member Dr. Iliana Ruiz-Cooley, used stable isotope analysis and DA measurements to investigate how DA is transferred through marine food webs in Monterey Bay. They found that anchovies are better sentinel species for coastal-pelagic regions than mussels, which did not contain any detectable levels of day. Their study demonstrates the efficacy of combining multiple biogeochemical tracers to improve HAB monitoring efforts and identify the main routes of DA transfer across habitats and trophic levels.

Read the open access paper here: Bernstein et al. 2021

Figure from Bernstein et al. 2021. Isotopic niches of potential DA vectors, crabs and predators vulnerable to DA toxicosis. (A) Bayesian standard ellipses and trophic level estimates of key taxa. Each point represents an individual and each color is associated with a different species. (B) Site-control analysis presenting the Bayesian ellipses of five potential DA vectors collected at stations 114, 115, and 116, and Dungeness crabs at C1 and C2.

Three MLML students receive COAST Graduate Student Research Awards!

We are thrilled to announce that three Moss Landing Marine Labs graduate students received 2021 COAST Graduate Student Research Awards! Congratulations to Daphne Shen (Vertebrate Ecology Lab), Kinsey Matthews (Fisheries Lab), and Jackson Hoeke (Invertebrate Ecology Lab).

The CSU Council on Ocean Affairs, Science & Technology (COAST) provides these grants to support CSU graduate students engaged in marine, coastal, and coastal watershed research. Many SJSU/MLML students have been funded by COAST over the years, and we are always thankful for the California State University’s strong support for marine science research.

Grad student Kristin Saksa interviewed by MLML alumna Emily Donham ’16 on the Santa Cruz Naturalist podcast

This week on the Santa Cruz Naturalist podcast on KSQD Radio, host and SJSU/MLML alumna Emily Donham ’16 sits down with current Ichthyology Lab grad student Kristin Saksa to discuss all things rockfish. Kristin’s research focuses on how climate change stressors will impact larval rockfish. 

Find the episode on the KSQD website, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts!

Five SJSU/MLML faculty members receive funding from California Sea Grant & CSU COAST

Three new SJSU/MLML research projects are officially Sea Grant-funded! California Sea Grant has announced funding for a total of seven new research projects led by early-career faculty members throughout the state. The one-year projects focus on two key areas of California Sea Grant’s strategic plan: sustainable fisheries & aquaculture, and coastal resilience. This year, a new partnership with the CSU Council on Ocean Affairs, Science & Technology (COAST) provided non-federal match to new CSU faculty members whose research focuses on supporting the state of California’s highest priority marine, coastal and coastal watershed related needs for scientific information.

SJSU/MLML faculty will serve as PIs on the following three projects:

  • Chemical oceanographer Dr. Maxime Grand and co-PI research faculty member Dr. Luke Gardner will lead a new project focused on quantifying volatile bromocarbon emissions from seaweed aquaculture in California.
  • Invertebrate ecologist Dr. Amanda Kahn and co-PIs Dr. Kerstin Wasson and Dr. Luke Gardner will investigate the use of energetics and metabolism to enhance Olympia oyster aquaculture and outplanting success.
  • Ichthyologist Dr. Scott Hamilton and phycologist Dr. Michael Graham will serve as co-PIs on a new project led by SJSU professor Dr. Maya deVries investigating whether co-culture of seaweeds and shellfish improves shell integrity in farmed red abalone.

Congratulations to all our SJSU/MLML faculty members and their collaborators on these exciting new ventures! Learn more about all seven newly funded research projects here.

SJSU/MLML alumna June Shrestha named 2021 California Sea Grant State Fellow

Congratulations to SJSU/MLML alumna June Shrestha on her selection as a 2021 California Sea Grant State Fellow! 

This competitive program matches recent grads with municipal, state, or federal host agencies in California for year-long fellowships that provide training at the interface of science, communication, policy, and management. June received her MS in Marine Science from Moss Landing Marine Labs in 2020 and will be working with NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary for her fellowship. June will support efforts to revise the sanctuary management plan, facilitate engagement with stakeholders during sanctuary advisory council meetings, and contribute to education and outreach initiatives.

Read more in the California Sea Grant State Fellowship announcement.

Professors Michael Graham and Scott Hamilton receive new California Sea Grant funding

SJSU/MLML Professors Michael Graham of our Phycology Lab and Scott Hamilton of our Ichthyology Lab have received new grant funding from California Sea Grant. Their project titled “Assessment of practical methods for re-establishment of northern California bull kelp populations at an ecologically relevant scale” will focus on restoring native seaweed populations and combatting destructive sea urchin overgrowth.

This grant is one of six funded by California Sea Grant as part of their 2020 Kelp Recovery Research Program. Together the grants total $2.1 million and are funded jointly by California Sea Grant and the California Ocean Protection Council, in collaboration with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Read more about Dr. Graham and Dr. Hamilton's new research project here.

Shelby Ziegler joins MLML as postdoctoral research associate

We would like to extend a warm welcome to new SJSU/MLML postdoctoral research associate Dr. Shelby Ziegler! Shelby just completed her PhD at the University of North Carolina Institute of Marine Sciences where her research focused on coastal habitats and fish communities.

At MLML, she will be working with the Fisheries & Conservation Biology and Ichthyology Labs on a project evaluating the performance of the statewide Marine Protected Areas system for enhancing fisheries production and communities. Welcome to Moss Landing, Shelby!

Ichthyology Lab alumnus Evan Mattiasen publishes results of thesis research on rockfish behavior and physiology

MLML alumnus Evan Mattiasen recently published the results of his thesis research in the journal Global Change Biology!

This study, co-authored by SJSU/MLML Ichthyology Lab professor Dr. Scott Hamilton and CSUMB professor Dr. Cheryl Logan, examines the effects of low oxygen conditions (hypoxia) on rockfish behavior and physiology. The results of this study are particularly relevant for fish stock management in light of global climate change, which is predicted to increase the frequency and severity of hypoxia.

Read Evan’s paper, titled "Effects of hypoxia on the behavior and physiology of kelp forest fishes", here: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/gcb.15076

Two research proposals from SJSU/MLML’s Ichthyology lab are now Sea Grant funded!

California Sea Grant today announced funding for a total of 19 new research projects that will take place over the next one to two years. A total of $900,000 will go to 19 research projects led by California investigators and graduate students. We are PROUD to announce that our professor of ichthyology, Dr. Scott Hamilton, is one of the grant recipients. This year for the first time, CA Sea Grant solicited project proposals directly from graduate students. We are therefore doubly PROUD to announce that Dr. Hamilton's student Katherine Neylan, is also a recipient thanks to the graduate fellowship in aquaculture.

Development of techniques for the cultivation of monkeyface pricklebacks as a sustainable alternative to unagi

For this project, Dr. Hamilton is interested in using a local fish, the monkeyface prickleback, as a  farmed and sustainable alternative to unagi (the seafood cuisine of sea urchins). Co principal investigators include our phycology professor, Dr. Mike Graham, as well as, Dr. Luke Gardner both a research faculty member and the CA Sea Grant Aquaculture Specialist.

Eat your greens: Evaluating microalgae supplemented feeds for sablefish nutrition and growth

Ichthyology student, Katherine Neylan will study the nutrition and growth of sablefish given a microalgal diet. Currently, farm-raised fish rely on a diet that is heavily dependent on the use of forage fish in fish meal and fish oil. However, allocating the proper nutrients to a farmed fish via ocean resources can place a significant strain on forage fish stocks. The project therefore seeks to formulate a diet that incorporates algae and meets nutritional needs while also examining the palatability and digestibility of it for sablefish. 

Thesis Defense by Stephen Pang-April 12th

The effect of sex ratio on the reproductive biology of two sex changing fish (Lythrypnus dalli and Rhinogobiops nicholsii)

A Thesis Defense by Stephen Pang

The Ichthyology Lab

Friday, April 12th, 2019 at 12 pm

MLML Seminar Room

Stephen Pang is a master's student under Dr. Scott Hamilton in the Ichthyology Lab. He graduated from the University of Washington in 2012 with a B.S. in biological oceanography. Prior to starting at Moss Landing Marine Labs, Stephen worked in Idaho and central Washington doing salmonid research. He recently completed the Sea Grant State Fellowship (where he was placed with the Delta Stewardship Council in Sacramento) and has recently joined an environmental consulting firm where he continues his work with salmonids and conservation.

Thesis Abstract:

By targeting the largest individuals in a population, size-selective fisheries can influence the life history traits and population parameters of exploited fish stocks. For protogynous (female-to-male) hermaphrodites, this type of harvest is also sex-selective since it preferentially removes males from the population. These differences in sex-specific survival can lead to populations that are heavily female-biased. While males historically have not been considered a limiting factor when assessing the health of gonochoristic populations, modeling work suggests that reduced male abundance and skewed sex ratios could cause a concomitant decline in the reproductive output of protogynous hermaphrodite populations. This study used two nest-brooding sex-changers, Lythrypnus dalli and Rhinogobiops nicholsii, to examine the effect of operational sex ratio on reproductive and nesting success, growth, and rates of sex change. Fish were outplanted on artificial patch reefs at varying sex ratios and their reproductive output was monitored by photographing eggs laid in artificial nests. Sex ratios ranged from 1:1 to 1:19 male:female. Fish were tagged so that growth and sex change could be determined upon recollection from the artificial reefs. For both L. dalli and R. nicholsii, total egg production, female per capita production, average production per nest, and the number of nests per reef were not affected by sex ratio. By contrast, male per capita production and the percentage of nesting males significantly increased as sex ratios became more female-biased. For R. nicholsii, growth rates were highest for individuals that completed sex change during the experimental period. During the breeding season, the frequency of sex change for R. nicholsii was highest on reefs that were strongly female-biased; there was no effect of sex ratio on the frequency of sex change during the non-breeding season. In L. dalli and R. nicholsii, it appears that males do not limit the reproductive output of heavily female-biased populations—as had been predicted by previous modeling work. Instead, for species that defend demersal nests, intrasexual competition between males (i.e., territory and mate monopolization) or females (i.e. competition for nest space) may limit total production when operational sex ratios are more balanced or more female-biased, respectively. As sex ratios became skewed in favor of females, male-male competition was relaxed and individual males became more reproductively successful; the discrepancy in per capita production between males and females at skewed sex ratios indicates that some females would increase their reproductive success by undergoing sex reversal (as demonstrated by R. nicholsii during the breeding season). It is possible that many of the results on reproductive success from this study are specific to nest-brooding species; this highlights the importance of mating systems and reproductive behavior when considering the impact of fisheries on the population dynamics of exploited populations.