Over the past couple of years, charismatic marine mammals have been easily seen near California's shores as they fed on dense schools of anchovy. In the summers of 2016 and 2017, particularly, the Golden Gate Bridge was an excellent vantage from which to watch humpback whales below as they fed. Despite the appearance of a vibrant nearshore marine ecosystem, anchovy populations have actually had extremely low numbers. When the abundance of these fish reaches such low numbers, their behavioral tendency is to cluster near the shoreline rather than spread out in the greater general vicinity. Having the anchovy and their predators near the shore makes them more visible to people, but gives a misleading picture about the health of their populations. This situation and Farallon Institute's recent work on assessing anchovy abundance fluctuations in California was highlighted in an article by News Deeply: Oceans Deeply. Read more here.
In a new Policy Forum published in the journal Science, FI scientist Emily Klein and co-authors spotlight the importance of inclusion and the experiences of minorities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM fields). Research clearly demonstrates the importance of diversity among scientists for more rigorous, creative, and productive science, and many institutions and organizations are actively working to promote diversity in their ranks. Yet representation of minority groups (e.g., racial, ethnic, gender, sexual identity, and persons with disabilities) in science continues to lag behind demographics in society at large. This paper aims to address the critical, and often under-acknowledged, disconnect between diversity initiatives, and the students and scientists they aim to reach.
A new paper by FI scientists Bill Sydeman, Sarah Ann Thompson, and Marisol Garcia-Reyes, along with collaborators from USGS, NOAA, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, describes regional seabird indicators in the Bering Sea. The paper was published in the journal Ecological Indicators, and shows how kittiwakes and murres each relate to climate data when data from different seabird colony sites are combined into an index. We used data for breeding success and the timing of breeding for black-legged kittiwakes, red-legged kittiwakes, common murres, and thick-billed murres. We made an index for: murre breeding success, kittiwake breeding success, murre timing of breeding, and kittiwake timing of breeding. Environmental data included sea surface temperature, sea ice cover, sea level pressure, and two measures of wind speed. These data were also combined into an environmental indices.
Results showed that the seabird indices related to different environmental indices, suggesting that seabirds across the region area are similarly affected by large-scale environmental variability.
FI scientists Bill Sydeman and Heather Robinson presented at the Pacific Seabird Group annual meeting in Tacoma, WA, on February 23-25. Bill's talk was "The California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigation (CalCOFI): 30 years of at-sea seabird observations and counting", and Heather presented on "Diet of Brandt's cormorants (Phalacrocorax penicillatus) during breeding season: A novel approach". Bill was also a co-convener of the symposium "The values of long-term studies: Insight and synthesis".
A new study published in Geophysical Research Letters by Farallon Institute collaborator Chelle Gentemann, with FI scientist Marisol García-Reyes, describes the sea surface temperatures and wind characteristics along the U.S. West Coast during the 2014-2016 marine heat wave event, which was related to the heat wave event that took place in the Gulf of Alaska ("The Blob"). The nearshore warming in the California Current Ecosystem (along the coast of Washington-Oregon-California) began a few months following the development of the offshore Blob (January 2014) and ended in September 2016. Warm waters were periodically dispersed each spring with the onset of the upwelling season, though the warm water temperatures quickly returned when winds calmed. This study also demonstrated that during these three years, the upwelling season was somewhat weakened and its timing shifted, which can have serious consequences for biological communities in this ecosystem.
Results from this study were covered in an online National Geographic article on February 2, 2017.
Marisol Garcia-Reyes and Bill Sydeman have a new paper in the journal Ecological Indicators this week in which they publish the Multivariate Ocean Climate Indicator (MOCI). MOCI is a regional indicator of marine environmental conditions for the central and southern California Current. It accurately represents ocean-climate variability and major climate events such as El Ninos and the recent North Pacific phenomenon "The Blob". MOCI also relates well to biological measurements across trophic levels, including copepod abundance, rockfish growth, and seabird reproductive metrics. Since the data that are used to create MOCI are found online, MOCI is easily update-able and will be updated quarterly. More information about MOCI and the index itself can be found here.
Farallon Institute scientist Marisol Garcia-Reyes is participating in a new research project that investigates Responses of biological productivity and fisheries to changes in atmospheric and oceanographic conditions in the upwelling region associated with the East African Coastal Current. The interdisciplinary group conducting this research, led by Dr. Mahongo at the Tanzania Fisheries Research Institute (TAFIRI), includes scientists from Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, USA, and UK. Marisol will participate in developing biophysical relationship models between oceanographic conditions and biological productivity in the region.
Farallon Institute scientists Amber Szoboszlai, Julie Thayer, and William Sydeman co-authored a paper for a study that examined the role of forage fish in the California Current Ecosystem, and the results of this study were published in the journal Ecological Modelling. In this research, the authors developed and used a food web model to analyze which species are predators of forage fish (such as sardine and herring) and how much the predators' diets are composed of forage fish species. Results of this study show that many predator species consume multiple forage fish species (rather than focusing on just one type), which suggests that management on the ecosystem level rather than a species-specific level is likely to be a more successful approach to conservation. Likewise, this information suggests that declines in forage fish populations can have far-reaching effects in marine food webs.
On April 28, Bill Sydeman was one of a group of scientists who testified before the California State Senate Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture. The topic of the hearing was "Crab season and domoic acid: lessons learned", and Bill spoke in the section for "Ocean conditions, the West Coast algae bloom and domoic acid levels: Now, over the next year, and into the future". More information about the hearing can be found here, and video of the hearing is archived here (scroll down to 4/28/2016 Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture). The slides from Bill's talk can be found in Presentations.
A new paper by Hassrick et al. in the journal Fisheries Oceanography investigates what influences the distribution and abundance of juvenile Chinook salmon in California...
Farallon Institute scientists Bill Sydeman and Sarah Ann Thompson have a new paper published in Science Magazine today.
Bill was interviewed for an online Q&A article by The Pew Charitable Trusts titled "Ocean Champion: Q&A with Bill Sydeman".
Farallon Institute researchers have been working to study and describe the recent collapse of the California anchovy population.
The Farallon Institute for Advanced Ecosystem Research is pleased to announce its selection as an award recipient in the Google Impact Challenge: Bay Area,
FI Scientists Julie Thayer and Amber Szoboszlai presented results of their research at the American Fisheries Society annual meeting
FI Scientist, Mike Litzow, has earned a Ph.D. in Marine Ecology from the University of Tasmania in Australia
Julie Thayer and Amber Szoboszlai presented research on predator consumption of forage species at the American Fisheries Society Conference, in Portland, Oregon
Sardine Working Group organized by the Ocean Modeling Forum, and their final meeting took place in Seattle, WA, on June 29-30