Dirona albolineata – Pruth Harbour, Calvert Island, BC. These carnivorous nudibranchs often prey on small snails and crustaceans that live on eelgrass blades.

How do seasonal changes and human activities impact eelgrass meadows?

Eelgrass (Zostera marina) is a marine flowering plant that grows throughout the northern hemisphere. It can be found along the west coast of North America from Baja California to Alaska. Eelgrass provides many important ecosystem services, including coastal storm protection, nutrient cycling, carbon sequestration, and fish habitat. Unfortunately, eelgrass meadows are threatened by a variety of human activities, such as climate change, coastal development, and pollution, which can negatively affect how the ecosystem functions. I strive to understand how human activities will alter eelgrass food web communities over time and how we can mediate those effects through establishing coastal protection.

I am interested in the effect of human impacts on eelgrass community structure and function. As a PhD student, I want to investigate how coastal development, temperature warming, and ocean acidification alters these communities by addressing the following questions:

1. How do temporal community dynamics vary between different eelgrass meadows?

2. How do Zostera marina communities vary on a spatial scale?

3. How do human activities alter eelgrass ecosystem functions and community structure?

4. Are warmer temperatures and ocean acidification stressors or facilitators to eelgrass growth?
How will nutritional value of eelgrass and corresponding epiphytes change in a warmer climate?
How will this affect each successive trophic level?

5. Is effluent from local pulp mills hindering eelgrass restoration efforts?

 

 

On Lake Miramar - San Diego, CA

On Lake Miramar – San Diego, CA

Effects of food web interactions and climate on pCO2 in San Diego reservoirs

The combustion of fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. As an ecologist interested in global change, I wanted to determine the role of fresh water food web interactions and temperature on carbon storage.

My master’s thesis focused on how seasonal variation of food web dynamics regulated carbon dioxide flux in three Southern Californian reservoirs (Lakes Poway, Miramar, and Murray). Preliminary results can be found in my publication in UCSD’s student journal, The Saltman Quarterly (Page 49).

The research was recently published in PLoS ONE.