Kelp beats the heat
A school of halfmoons in a giant kelp forest off southern California
In early 2014, a large-scale marine heat wave in the Pacific Ocean produced temperature anomalies greater than anything seen since record-keeping began in the early 1900s. SBC LTER researchers use their long term records to evaluate the sentinel status of giant kelp forests along the Southern California coastline as an indicator of climate change. They expected giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera), known to be sensitive to such increases as well as to the resulting low-nutrient conditions, to respond quite rapidly to a rise in water temperature. To their surprise, this was not the case; kelp's response to the oceanic heat wave was really no different than the variation in the long-term temporal record. Further, for most components of the kelp forest community, large responses to the unprecedented warm, nutrient-poor conditions were not obvious. "The fact that we did not see drastic responses in the rest of the community tells us that we don't know everything we think we know about this system and about its ecology," noted Dan Reed (Lead PI). "The results have caused us to pursue lines of research to understand how this happens. More importantly, the findings underscore the value of long-term data in terms of trying to tease apart these trends." Results are published in Nature Communications
(UCSB press release
SBC Students in the UCSB Undergraduate Research Colloquium
Left to right: Rose Dodgen,
Nicolette Flannery, John Liedle
Three undergraduate students presented posters of their SBC research projects at
UCSB’s Undergraduate Research Colloquium on May 17, 2016. This annual poster
exhibition recognizes the scholarly achievements of undergraduates and offers
an opportunity to share their hard work and develop their research and
presentation skills. Over 250 students participated in the colloquium this year.
The three presenters were Rose Dodgen, "Niche separation in California beachhoppers"
(Honorable Mention Prize); Nicolette Flannery, "Impacts
of urbanization on sandy beach ecosystems"; and John Liedle "Feeding
and distribution of the Norris’s kelp snail"; mentored by Jenny Dugan,
Nick Schooler and Christie Yorke, respectively.
Blog launched by LTER graduate students
the photo caption goes here
A new blog, “Short Stories About Long-Term Ecological Research" (SSALTER), is up and running:
The new blog was created by LTER graduate students following a joint SBC-MCR-CCE
LTER graduate student symposium and the LTER All Scientists Meeting in 2015. The goal
is to provide an outlet for students engaged in long term ecological research to
informally share their research experiences with each other and the wider world.
Current moderators are Stella Swanson (MCR) Ali Freibott (CCE) and Christie Yorke (SBC).
SSALTER also has a facebook
and a twitter
SBC LTER sites oiled by pipeline break
Refugio Beach, May 2015 (credit: US Coast Guard).
On May 19, 2015, a black tide of heavy oil from a broken pipeline began to come ashore at Refugio State Beach on the Santa Barbara Channel mainland. A large group of SBC investigators and students responded immediately to what became known as the Refugio oil spill, pooling their expertise and local knowledge of the SBC LTER area to help monitor the spill as it spread to many miles of coast and ocean over the next few weeks. The coastline and waters affected by the oil spill include a number of SBC’s long term research sites ranging from kelp forests to sandy beaches. Working in collaboration, SBC investigators and students have been gathering and providing myriad data and observations to the state and federal agencies working to evaluate and clean up the damage from the oil spill. Although the clean up of the coastline and beaches following the Refugio spill is winding down, scientific investigation of the environmental impacts of the spill will continue for much longer. SBC’s scientists are playing an important role in determining the extent of those impacts and what may be done to restore this once pristine coastline. For more information see Network News
or UCSB press release
Kelp influences sandy beaches
Kelp wrack at a Santa Barbara beach
Kelp that washes onto our local beaches provides a very important, though understudied, resource upporting food webs in sandy ecosystems. A better understanding of the relationship between kelp forests and our sandy beaches will help to manage and preserve coastal ecosystems that are important to local residents and the economies that rely upon them. A new NSF-supported project led by SBC researchers Jenny Dugan, Bob Miller and Carter Ohlmann will provide needed new insights into the dynamics of connectivity between a donor ecosystem, kelp forests, and a recipient ecosystem, sandy beaches, by measuring intertidal community structure over time in response to variability in kelp input. The project will use the Santa Barbara Channel as the study region, and includes intensive work at a well-studied SBC LTER kelp forest (Mohawk Reef) and along 10 kilometers of adjacent coastline.
New study of Santa Barbara coastal ecosystem vulnerability
NOAA Climate Program
Office's Coastal and Ocean Climate Applications (COCA) program
Wave energy hits an SBC beach
recently awarded two grants to conduct a coastal ecosystem vulnerability assessment in
the Santa Barbara area. SBC investigators, Melack, Page, Reed and Dugan are working with lead investigator, Monique Myers,
Sea Grant advisor, Scripps researchers Dan Cayan and Sam Iacobellis and USGS scientist, Patrick Barnard on the study which
focuses on the vulnerability of key coastal ecosystems including watersheds, wetlands and beaches to climate change impacts.
The researchers will work with city and county partners to develop a guidance document that informs climate adaptation
SBC LTER kelp forest field guide is an iPhone app
Kelp forest app for iPhone
This new application is a free field guide to 150 algae, plants, fish and invertebrates that inhabit the unique ecosystem of the Pacific Ocean kelp forests. Students, divers and nature lovers will learn about the amazing inhabitants of the California coast and Channel Islands kelp forest ecosystem. The app was a collaborative effort of UCSB Marine Science Institute
and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary
, using data and imagery from SBC LTER. Coding was provided by Citrix Systems. The app is available from the iTunes store under "california kelp forest", and plans are underway for a version for the iPad and Android operating systems as well.
California kelp forests
Two natural history applications for smart phones
California tide pools
The "California kelp forests" and "California tide pools" are 2 new free apps for smart phones, supported by
UCSB Marine Science Institute's Outreach Center for Teaching Ocean Science (OCTOS)
and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary
Together, these provide a rich experience for students and nature lovers to learn about the local marine life. Released in 2012, "California tide pools" is now available for iPhone, iPad and Android operating systems. "California kelp forests" is currently available only for iPhone, but plans are underway to develop a version for the iPad and Android operating systems as well. Coding was provided by Citrix Systems.
Professional Development Workshop for Teachers
In Summer 2014, SBC, the Math-Science-Partnership (MSP) Project, Pathways to Environmental Literacy, Nature Bridge, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and Channel Islands National Park.
will host a 1 week summer Professional Development for Teachers workshop for junior high and high
school teachers from Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. The 2014 workshop will include training on in-class science curriculum based on SBC LTER field study sites, data and ecological principles in the context of the project's
environmental literacy strands of Biodiversity, Carbon and Water and participate in field protocol refinement and testing for monitoring rocky shores and sandy beaches as part of the LiMPETS program (Long-term Monitoring Program and Experiential Training for Students) and the South Coast Marine Protected Area Baseline program. For more information please contact Scott Simon at the UCSB Marine Science Institute's REEF.