Tackling Ecological Complexity and Climate Change: Matches and Mismatches in the Seasonal Cycle of California’s Marine Flora and Fauna


Climate change may change the timing of annual events in species' life cycles, such as the egg-laying dates of seabirds or spawning dates of fish, but there is no reason to assume that species of different trophic levels will change at the same rate.  Different responses in timing could lead to uncoupling of predator-prey trophic relationships.  Farallon Institute scientists hypothesized that this could explain recent reproductive failures of seabirds and poor recruitment of fish (salmon) in central-northern California during 2005-2007.  This collaborative, interdisciplinary project funded by the California Ocean Protection Council and California Sea Grant includes researchers from NOAA's Environmental Research Division (Drs. Steven Bograd and Isaac Schroeder), Southwest Fisheries Science Center (Drs. Steven Ralston, Brian Wells, and John Field), Oregon State University Hatfield Marine Science Center (Dr. Robert Suryan), UC Berkeley (Drs. Zack Powell and Jeff Dorman), and Old Dominion University (Dr. Chester Grosch).  As part of this project, Dorman and Powell developed a novel model on the oceanographic factors affecting the abundance and availability of the euphausiid Euphausia pacifica.  With NOAA-NMFS fisheries scientists, Dr. Jarrod Santora led studies of krill-krill predator spatial organization and spatial "match or mismatch".  Peer-reviewed publications resulting from this effort include Bograd et al. 2009 (phenology of upwelling along the U.S. west coast), Schroeder et al. 2009 (relationships between winds, ocean temperatures, and seabird timing of breeding and productivity), and Sydeman et al. 2009 (synthesis of seabird responses to climate change in the California Current).