Posts Tagged: Bodega Marine Laboratory
The new Coastal and Marine Sciences Institute at UC Davis will bring a new undergraduate program in marine sciences, a spruced-up Bodega Marine Laboratory, and enhanced opportunities for collaboration and education among marine scientists spread across UC Davis.
From the laboratories at the university’s main campus near the state’s political center of Sacramento to the shores of Bodega Bay on California’s north coast, a diverse group of marine scientists and policymakers at UC Davis has been studying the most critical issues affecting oceans, and the creatures and people who depend on them. Now, the Coastal and Marine Sciences Institute will begin to connect, strengthen, and leverage those efforts.
UC Davis evolution and ecology professor Rick Grosberg (above) is the institute’s founding director.
“I hope to take the incredible expertise on our main campus and at the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory to assemble a comprehensive, interdisciplinary program in marine science,” said Grosberg. “One of our goals is to pull together an exceptionally strong and diverse group of faculty and really build the health of the coastal ocean.”
The institute’s work primarily will focus on coastal Northern California — from north of Monterey to the California-Oregon border.
Ten faculty currently reside at Bodega Marine Laboratory, while 69 campus faculty consider themselves marine scientists. By providing a collaborative framework, the institute aims to enhance opportunities for research, teaching, outreach and stakeholder engagement surrounding marine sciences.
The Coastal and Marine Sciences Institute features four key components, expected to be rolled out over the next five years:
- Research enterprises that use novel combinations of existing expertise at UC Davis in the physical, biological and social sciences to address issues affecting coastal and ocean environments.
- New degree programs. CMSI plans to introduce a highly interdisciplinary undergraduate degree program in marine sciences, expected to launch in 2014. New graduate and professional training programs in marine sciences are also being developed.
- The Bodega Learning Center aims to educate and engage the public — from “K to gray” — about marine and coastal issues. It will be located at Bodega Marine Laboratory, with plans to further develop visitor exhibits and programs for schools, professional training and lifelong learning throughout Northern California.
- The Center for Coastal Ocean Issues will provide a forum for engaging with stakeholders, from the beginning, to identify and address challenges related to human, natural and economic coastal health. This includes bringing together scientists, government agencies, policymakers, ocean industries and the public.
The UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory sits amid the Bodega Marine Reserve about 100 miles west from the UC Davis campus and is ideally located for studying coastal health and human impacts that could affect it. The facility is in one of the world’s four major upwelling areas, which are highly productive — yielding 20 percent of global fish production while occupying less than 1 percent of the ocean surface area. BML is also near one of the most densely populated regions of the state — the San Francisco Bay area — where coastlines are increasingly impacted by human activities.
The laboratory was founded in 1960 by UC Berkeley and was transferred to UC Davis in 1983. Recent work includes research on ocean acidification and climate change, invasive species, fisheries management, the effects of oil spills on marine life, and a program to bring back the endangered white abalone from the brink of extinction.
“The physical and chemical environment of the ocean is changing with the climate,” said John Largier of the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory. “This affects ecosystems — like tidal marshes and coral reefs that protect us from storms and flooding.”
The ocean brings stability to the earth’s climate. It heats up and cools down more slowly than the land and the air. With climate change, the ocean absorbs excess heat trapped in the earth’s system by the increased concentration of gases in the atmosphere.
As seawater warms, it expands. The increase in the ocean’s heat content has contributed to one of the most visible effects of global warming — rising sea level. Thermal expansion, along with melting polar ice caps and glaciers, has led to global sea level rise of more than seven inches over the last century.
“When the ocean begins to warm up, then you know that the earth’s climate is changing,” said Largier, a professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy. “Even if we stop putting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere right now, the ocean has warmed up, and it will take centuries for it to cool down. People don’t realize that we’ve already made a long-term commitment to climate change.”
At the Bodega Marine Lab, Largier and other scientists are studying the regional impacts of climate change on the waters off California, which include an increase in coastal upwelling. Driven by winds, upwelling pulls cold water and nutrients from the ocean depths to the surface along the shore and contributes to the “marine layer,” the blanket of cool moist air that moderates California temperatures. Largier’s research shows a trend toward stronger winds and an increase in upwelling since 1982, leading to cooler waters off central and northern California.
“Worldwide, the ocean’s surface water is getting warmer, but in California, the ocean is getting colder near shore,” said Largier. “This is intriguing because it shows that climate change is not going to have the same effect everywhere. There will be regional differences.”
This article was condensed slightly from UC Davis “CA&ES Outlook” magazine. Read the full article on page 7.
Read John Largier's scientific advisory group report on how changes in the ocean might affect two valuable marine sanctuaries off the northern California coast: "Climate Change Impacts: Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries"
John Largier along the northern California coast. (Photo: Jennifer Sauter/UC Davis)
At least 13 of the 102 aquarium species that are imported into California have been introduced into California marine waters, according to a recent report by Susan Williams, professor in the Department of Evolution and Ecology at UC Davis and a marine ecologist the Bodega Marine Laboratory. These introduced species have a high success rate (69 percent) in establishing themselves.
Two very invasive species — the predatory lionfish and Caulerpa seaweed (aka “killer algae”) — have reportedly come from the aquarium trade. The lionfish, which has established itself along the East Coast where it eats smaller fish and threatens reef ecological systems, has not yet reached California waters, but the Caulerpa seaweed cost California more than $6 million to eradicate from two Southern California lagoons a decade ago.
At least 34 aquarium species were found to be potential invaders in California marine waters.
“Globally, the aquarium trade has contributed a third of the world’s worst aquatic and invasive species,” Williams said. "Lionfish are voracious predators in their native habitats, and in their invaded habitat any predator is a potential threat to the native ecosystem."
Williams’ advice: "To avoid releasing aquarium species into natural water, don’t dump your aquarium where they can become an expensive and harmful pests.”
She said that people should contact the vendor where the fish was purchased or the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to learn how to dispose of aquarium species responsibly.