Advanced Ecosystem Research

Farallon Institute News

New Farallon Institute Executive Director

January 22, 2015

Dear friends and colleagues:

I am extremely pleased and excited to announce that Dr. Jeff Dorman is the new Executive Director of Farallon Institute (FI). While Jeff will now oversee day-to-day operations and management of the organization, I will remain as President of the Board and Senior Scientist and work closely with Jeff, FI’s Board of Directors, and our cadre of interdisciplinary scientists to conduct, support, and develop new directions in marine ecosystem research. As Jeff has been associated with FI for many years (since 2008), we anticipate this transition and expansion of our administrative and management systems will be seamless. Jeff will also continue research on modeling krill and how changes in climate might impact future ecosystem productivity at mid to upper trophic levels. Jeff earned his M.A. in Biology from San Francisco State University and Ph.D. in Oceanography from UC Berkeley.

Cheers, Bill

Farallon Institute contributions to journal special issue

January 22, 2015

Two new papers by Farallon Institute scientists are included in a special issue of Deep-Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography. The issue is titled "CCE-LTER: Responses to the California Current Ecosystem to climate forcing".

Bill Sydeman and co-authors include a paper investigating changes in upwelling and stratification in the Southern California region of the California Current Ecosystem and how they might affect seabird populations through changes in prey availability. The results show that there are seasonal trends in upwelling and stratification. Among the prey species examined, including krill and forage fish, no overall trend in krill abundance was found, while there were decreases in abundance seen for several fish species. The composition of the krill community, however, changed through time. Seabird density also decreased over the study period. Spring seabird density in the study area was found to be related to spring krill abundance and winter nearshore larval fish abundance, dominated by anchovy. Understanding predator-prey relationships such as these, and their relationship to environmental conditions is of great value when considering ecosystem-based management of upper trophic level organisms (fish, seabirds, and mammals).

In another paper, Farallon Institute post-doctoral researcher Pete Davison and co-authors describe mesopelagic fish biomass in the California Current Ecosystem. Mesopelagic fishes are an abundant group of fish that live at ocean depths of 200-1000 m and are a vital link between lower trophic levels and higher predators, as well as between the productivity of the ocean surface and the deep sea. Sampling these fish is difficult due to the depth of their habitat, and scientists assess the biomass of this group by either trawl sampling or acoustically-derived estimation. This study utilized and compared these methods while also addressing aspects of inaccuracy that warrant improvement. The authors provide a new estimate of mesopelagic fish biomass that is much larger than any previous estimate, and demonstrate a significant role of these species in regional ecosystem functions.

Predator-habitat relationships are described by spatio-temporal dynamics of ocean conditions and forage taxa

October 24, 2014

An article describing new research led by Jarrod Santora was recently published in the journal Ecological Applications. In this study, Santora et al. show that abundance of lower trophic level prey species such as krill and anchovy covary with oceanic conditions on the continental shelf. In turn, variability in seabird breeding success indicates the importance and availability of multiple forage taxa within shelf and oceanic regions. Demographic responses (such as seabird breeding success) related to prey availability revealed spatially variable associations, which are indicative of the dynamic nature of "predator-habitat" relationships.

Mesopelagic fishes in the California Current

October 24, 2014

Pete Davison, Farallon Institute post-doctoral scientist, and co-authors have research that was featured in the September issue of the IMBER Update Newsletter. The article explores the ecological importance of poorly-studied mesopelagic fish and how climate change is impacting them, and outlines the need and utility of broad-scale, long-term monitoring programs such as the CalCOFI program.

Rising variability in winter maritime climate

September 23, 2014

Farallon Institute collaborator Bryan A. Black and in-house scientists published new results in the journal Science. In this paper, marine and terrestrial biological data were combined to reconstruct changes in winter maritime climate across six centuries. The team developed a multivariate marine climate index, which represented coastal upwelling as well as local precipitation in adjacent terrestrial ecosystems, and linked variation in blue oak (Quercus douglasii) growth with several marine biological variables (copepod abundance, seabird productivity and timing of breeding, and rockfish growth). Then, the team used the oak tree ring data set to hindcast winter climate changes over the past 576 years. This exciting research illustrates a remarkable degree of connectivity across the coastal interface and supports an integrative approach to coastal zone management. The study shows that winter climate variability is increasing, but remains within the bounds seen over the past 600 years.

New OceanSpaces blog features Farallon Institute research

September 16, 2014

Read more about the effects of climate change on upwelling-favorable wind intensification and the meta-analysis published by Sydeman et al. (2014) via the new OceanSpaces blog.

Ocean upwelling becoming more intense with climate change, new Farallon Institute research reveals

July 4, 2014

An international team of scientists, led by Farallon Institute President Dr. Bill Sydeman, has shown that winds that cause coastal upwelling off the west coasts of North and South America and southern Africa have increased over the past 60 years, indicating a global pattern of change. The study was published in the journal Science; additional information can be found in the press release and on the Farallon Institute Pelican Brief blog.

An additional article about this research can be found in the Los Angeles Times.

FI Scientist Pete Davison appears on KCRW program To the Point

July 2, 2014

Pete Davison appeared on KCRW's July 2nd episode of To the Point to discuss the presence of microplastics in the ocean. Pete explains the expectations and results of a recent study that found less plastic in the ocean than was expected and possible reasons why those plastics weren't detected. He also discusses the disintegration of plastics into small fragments, the consumption of plastic particles by animals, and toxicity of plastics to organisms.

New Facebook page and the Pelican Brief blog

July 17, 2013

We have new additional websites that can help you stay informed about what's going on at the Farallon Institute. Check out our new Facebook page and Pelican Brief blog for more updates.

Like us on Facebook to receive updates on our latest activities, including photos and links to our newly-created blog. The goal of our Facebook page is to create a network of supporters, both personal and professional, and to broadcast our message on a current and accessible platform.

The Pelican Brief is a blog designed for general audiences (managers, policy-makers, and informed members of the public) where we give summaries (briefs) of recent research papers involving Farallon Institute researchers. The name refers to the iconic California Brown Pelican, a once-endangered species in the California Current marine ecosystem which has recovered from chemical contamination of its primary food sources. The mission of Pelican Brief is to facilitate communication of scientific research to general audiences and in doing so provide a bridge to decision-makers and other interested parties.

Read previous news stories...