Advanced Ecosystem Research

Our Team

William J. Sydeman, Ph.D.

President & Farallon Institute Senior Scientist contact

William J. Sydeman Bill’s career exceeds three decades of ecological research. Starting as an intern marine ornithologist working on the Farallon Islands in 1981, Bill spent 15 years as the Director of Marine Ecology at PRBO Conservation Science before establishing the Farallon Institute. Bill obtained his Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of California, Davis. Bill has conducted a number of "plankton to predator" studies in the California Current large marine ecosystem, and has written about seabirds, marine mammals and various fish species. In recent papers, Bill described dramatic and abrupt ecosystem changes to climate variability (Sydeman et al. 2006, Sydeman et al. 2013). Bill serves on many scientific panels, notably as the Chair of the Advisory Panel for Marine Birds and Mammals for the North Pacific Marine Science Organization and Scientific Advisory Committee for implementation of the State of California's Marine Life Protection Act. Bill has presented to state and federal policy-makers on the effects of climate change on marine ecosystems, and how to best design and use the nation's new ocean observing systems.

Alec D. MacCall, Ph.D.

Board of Directors

A resident of Santa Cruz, California, Alec is a quantitative fisheries population biologist. Alec has studied fish and fisheries in the California Current for his entire career, first working for the California Department of Fish and Game before moving to the National Marine Fisheries Service. Currently a Senior Scientist at NOAA Fisheries, Alec has completed stock assessments for many depleted rockfish species along the west coast of the United States (MacCall 2005). Early in his career, Alec studied forage fishes and developed the theory of dynamic geography for northern anchovies.

Nathan Mantua, Ph.D.

Board of Directors

Nathan Mantua A native of Bodega Bay, California, Nate is currently the team leader for the Landscape Ecology Team at NOAA's Southwest Fisheries Science Center in Santa Cruz, California. Nate was at the University of Washington in Seattle from 1995-2012, where he most recently co-directed the Climate Impacts Group and was an associate professor in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. As a climate scientist Nate's varied work includes collaborating on seminal studies on decadal-scale climate variability and effects of changing ocean climate on salmonid production and related ecosystem regime shifts in the North Pacific (Mantua et al. 1997, Hare and Mantua 2000). Respected for his expertise in climatology, Nate has testified before the U.S. Congress on environmental change and its effects on fish populations and fisheries.

Jason Hassrick, Ph.D.

Farallon Institute Scientist contact

Jason Hassrick Jason completed his Ph.D. on the foraging ecology of northern elephant seals in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology program at UC Santa Cruz in 2011. He initially joined the Farallon Institute to work on Brandt's cormorant breeding ecology with Julie Thayer at Alcatraz Island and has since moved onto analyzing krill distributions in the California Current using echosounder data from NOAA ship surveys. Jason was recently granted a post doctoral fellowship from the Delta Stewardship Council to work with Sean Hayes at NOAA's Southwest Fisheries Science Center to study the outmigration survival and movement of Chinook salmon smolt runs out of the Sacramento River and Delta. As part of his research, Jason investigates physical and biological determinants of krill-salmon covariation in the California Current System.

Marisol Garcia-Reyes, Ph.D.

Farallon Institute Scientist contact

Marisol Garcia-Reyes Native to Mexico and with a physics background, Marisol completed her Ph.D. in atmospheric sciences at the University of California, Davis in 2011. Her research focused on coastal upwelling variability along the California coast: variability in time and space (García-Reyes and Largier 2012) and the impact of climate on the upwelling process (García-Reyes and Largier 2010). Her recent focus is on the relation of upwelling and climate variability, their impacts on the marine ecosystem (García-Reyes et al. 2013), and what global climate models predict for coastal upwelling under climate change.

Mike Litzow, M.Sc.

Farallon Institute Scientist contact

Mike Litzow Mike has conducted research in Alaskan marine ecosystems for the past twelve years. He began his career studying the implications of changing prey availability for the recovery of seabird populations harmed by the Exxon Valdez oil spill. More recently his work has focused on links between climate change and ecosystem status, with a focus on commercially important groundfish and crustacean populations. His recent papers have included documentation of climate-forced trophic oscillations in the Gulf of Alaska (Litzow and Ciannelli 2007) and the effects of retreating sea ice on the biogeography of sea-floor communities in the Bering Sea (Mueter and Litzow 2008). A resident of Alaska for fifteen years, Mike is currently in the middle of a two-year stay in Australia.

Heather Robinson, M.Sc.

Farallon Institute Scientist

Heather Robinson Originally from Massachusetts, Heather moved to California in 2002 to start her career in marine science at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. While there, her studies focused on ichthyology and the diets of several skate species common to the northeastern Pacific Ocean (Robinson et al. 2007). After earning her Master of Science degree, Heather moved to Zambia where she completed a 2-year term of service in the Peace Corps teaching villagers how to farm tilapia. Heather returned to California in 2010 where she began to focus on seabird ecology in the San Francisco Bay area while working for the USGS. Heather joined the Farallon Institute team to work on breeding ecology and disturbance of Alcatraz Island seabirds. She also brings her animal dietary expertise to the team participating in a study of California sea lion feeding ecology.

Amber I. Szoboszlai, M.Sc.

Farallon Institute Scientist contact

Amber Szoboszlai Amber specializes in developing database management tools to compile long-term historical data sets for large marine ecosystems. At the Farallon Institute she works on food web characterization and analysis, bio-energetic modeling, database development, and building tools to answer complex ecological questions. Her training in marine science and ecology included research on how environmental stress alters species interactions, and the role of species diversity in ecosystem function in California's productive and dynamic marine environment.

Julie A. Thayer, Ph.D.

Farallon Institute Scientist contact

Julie A. Thayer Julie has worked in the California Current marine ecosystem for the past 18 years. She did undergraduate work in marine biology at the University of California at Santa Cruz and Long Marine Lab, and obtained a Ph.D. in Marine Ecology from the University of California at Davis. Julie has conducted research on a variety of top marine predators and their prey in relation to ocean climate. She organized a group of researchers around the North Pacific Rim (Japan, Canada, U.S.) for a comparative study of forage fishes eaten by the seabird rhinoceros auklet, focusing on spatio-temporal synchronicity in connection with local to basin-scale marine variability (Thayer et al. 2008). Julie also led a Collaborative Fisheries Research project in which scientific data on the diet of salmon is collected in partnership with local recreational and commercial fishers, providing data to help understand the recent salmon population crash (Thayer et al. 2013, submitted). She is currently focusing on forage fish management strategies and incorporation of predator needs. A resident of Berkeley, California, Julie recently returned from a Fulbright grant studying tropical reef food webs and development of marine reserves off the northeast coast of Brazil.

Sarah Ann Thompson, M.Sc.

Farallon Institute Scientist contact

Sarah Ann Thompson Sarah Ann began her marine science career at Oregon State University, where as a research technician she conducted large-scale rocky intertidal biodiversity surveys along the U.S. west coast. She earned a Master of Science degree at Sonoma State University, where she studied the effects of commercial collection on the sea palm kelp, Postelsia palmaeformis (Thompson et al. 2010). At the Farallon Institute, Sarah Ann's research products include Integrated Ecosystem Assessments (IEAs) and studies of climate effects on top predators. These studies include linking changes in seabird abundance to ocean predictors (Thompson et al. 2012a) and exploring indirect pathways of predator responses to variation in upwelling (Thompson et al. 2012b). Other projects focus on climate variability in the California Current and predator-prey relationships in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska. Sarah Ann manages the Farallon Institute's Integrated Marine Ecological Database (IMED) with physical and biological data sets for the California Current. She is hosted as a visiting scholar at the University of Washington's Climate Impacts Group.

Ramona Zeno, M.Sc.

Farallon Institute Scientist contact

Ramona Zeno Ramona began her scientific career on the Farallon islands in 1994 studying seabirds and marine mammals. She completed her bachelor's degree at U.C. Santa Cruz in Biology and her M.Sc. at Sonoma State University where she studied development of diving behavior in juvenile northern elephant seals. Ramona has also worked with the Point Reyes National Seashore studying the movement of elephant seals between breeding colonies. She joined the Farallon Institute to investigate krill distributions in the California Current using ten years of NOAA acoustic data. Areas where krill distributions are persistent across years are likely to also be important areas for a suite of other marine organisms, such as salmon and whales, which depend on krill as a key prey resource.

Marcel Losekoot, M.Sc.

Computer Programmer/Analyst contact

Marcel Losekoot Marcel is a research and development engineer, computer programmer and analyst. Originally hailing from Europe, Marcel has a Master of Engineering degree from the University of Surrey in England (1991) and a Master of Science from Davis (2007). Marcel comes to us from Collecte Localisation Satellite (CLS), a subsidiary of the French Space Agency, which offers satellite-based products based on environmental (atmospheric and ocean) observations. Marcel works part-time for the FI and part-time for UC Davis Bodega Marine Lab where he operates their network of high-frequency radar (CODAR) stations used to monitor ocean currents in Northern California. Marcel’s interests and work with the FI involve production of physical and biological data products and analysis of hydro-acoustic and spatial oceanographic data.

Pete Davison, Ph.D.

Post-Doctoral Research Associate contact

Pete Davison Pete is a recent arrival from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, where he spent the past nine years as first a graduate student and then a post-doc. His research at SIO focused upon the ecology of mesopelagic fishes and their role in the global carbon cycle (Davison et al. 2013). While at SIO, he developed acoustic models of mesopelagic fishes in order to estimate their abundance acoustically (Davison 2011). At the Farallon Institute, Pete will develop acoustic models of forage fishes, estimate their abundance from a time series of multi-frequency acoustic data, and then explore their relationship to the success of piscivores in the California Current Ecosystem. Prior to his work in oceanography, Pete worked as an electrical engineer in Silicon Valley, and he holds a BS-EE from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an MS-ECE from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in addition to his Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography.

Jeff Dorman, Ph.D.

Post-Doctoral Research Associate contact

Jeff Dorman Jeff is a biological oceanographer who is interested in the drivers of zooplankton variability in the northern California Current. Jeff completed a Masters degree at San Francisco State University working on the response of krill to upwelling events and his Ph.D. in Integrative Biology at the University of California at Berkeley. His dissertation research involved running physical oceanographic models (ROMS) and interfacing the output with biological individual-based models of the krill species Euphausia pacifica. Jeff’s current research is an extension of this modeling work to better understand the conditions that lead to boom and bust cycles of this important prey species of the California Current.

Marie Sydeman

Communications Blogger

Marie Sydeman A recent Petaluma High School graduate, Marie is working for the Farallon Institute on communications for general audiences. Over the course of her high school career, Marie enriched her learning experience by regularly challenging herself with Advanced Placement courses, including Environmental Science, English, and Statistics, all of which have proved essential to her work with the Farallon Institute. Her duties as Communications Blogger include social networking through sites such as Facebook as well as the distillation of published research articles into concise yet thorough summaries for the Farallon Institute’s blog. Marie will be attending the University of Washington in autumn of 2013 with the intent of majoring in English while continuing to pursue her passions for French, social justice, and education reform.

Sonia D. Batten, Ph.D.

Collaborator

Sonia Batten Sonia completed her PhD. at the University of Southampton, UK in 1994. After working with the North Atlantic Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) data set at the Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science (SAHFOS) for six years she transferred to the west coast of Canada to set up and coordinate the Pacific CPR survey. Sonia is a biological oceanographer with a focus on zooplankton and their role as indicators of the marine environment (Batten and Welch 2004) and their place in the food chain (Batten et al. 2006). The Pacific CPR survey has completed its eighth year of sampling and in that time has collected plankton along transects totalling over 200,000 km of the north Pacific.

Bryan Black, Ph.D.

Collaborator

Bryan Black Bryan is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Marine Science at the University of Texas at Austin Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas, Texas. He completed his Ph.D. in Forest Resources at Penn State University in 2003 and applies dendrochronology (tree-ring analysis) techniques to growth increments of long-lived marine organisms including fish, bivalves, and corals. Resulting growth-increment chronologies can be used to establish the effects of climate on growth, reconstruct climate variability prior to the start of instrumental records, and make comparisons across species and ecosystems. Bryan has been particularly interested in integrating diverse biological indicators, including chronologies, to investigate the impacts of climate variability on marine and terrestrial ecosystems of the northeast Pacific. In the California Current, for example, rockfish (Sebastes spp.) growth-increment chronologies covary with records of seabird reproductive success, independently corroborating the importance of wintertime climate variability to upper-trophic productivity (Black et al. 2011).

Steven Bograd, Ph.D.

Collaborator

Steven Bograd Steven is an oceanographer at NOAA's Southwest Fisheries Science Center, Environmental Research Division, in Pacific Grove, California. Steven is also a Research Associate at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and a fellow with the Cooperative Institute for Marine Ecosystems and Climate (CIMEC) at the University of California-Santa Cruz. He was co-Principal Investigator of the Census of Marine Life Tagging of Pacific Predators (TOPP) program, and is currently an Associate Editor at Fisheries Oceanography and an Academic Editor at PloS ONE. Steven's research interests are in eastern boundary current systems, climate variability, physical-biological interactions, marine biologging, and fisheries oceanography. Steven received B.S. degrees in physics and atmospheric sciences at the University of Arizona, a M.S. in atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington, and a Ph.D. in physical oceanography from the University of British Columbia in 1998. Steven worked for several years at NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory on the Fisheries Oceanography Coordinated Investigations (FOCI) program, and held the CalCOFI post-doctoral fellowship at Scripps Institution of Oceanography from 1998-2000. He also served as acting CalCOFI Coordinator at SIO in 2000. Steven has been at NOAA since 2001.

Michael Henry, Ph.D.

Collaborator

Michael Henry Mike completed his Ph.D. in phytoplankton ecology and biodiversity at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, in 2005. Currently residing in Montreal, Canada, Mike’s research is focused on the macro-ecology (large-scale distribution and abundance) and interactions of phytoplankton, zooplankton, and marine birds in the North Pacific (Batten et al. 2006, Hyrenbach et al. 2007). In his current research, Mike is determining how lower trophic level diversity and production influences seabird diversity and abundance between the Gulf of Alaska, southern Bering Sea, and western Pacific gyre, and assessing the effects of climate variability and change on these North Pacific ecosystems. Since 2002, Mike has spent over 330 days at sea on the container ship M/V Skaubryn surveying seabirds and marine mammals and deploying a Continuous Plankton Recorder 3 times per year along a 7,500 km transect stretching from Victoria, British Columbia to Tokyo, Japan.

Kyra L. Mills, M.Sc.

Collaborator

Kyra L. Mills Raised in Ecuador, Kyra received her graduate degree from the University of California Irvine, where she studied the behavior of seabirds in the inshore waters of the Galápagos Islands, including the foraging ecology of Galápagos Penquins using time-depth recorders. Kyra worked as lead biologist on the Farallon Islands, California between 1999-2001. With great interest in the concept of seabirds as indicators and predictors of forage fish populations, Kyra and collaborators (Mills et al. 2007) developed the "multivariate rockfish index" (MRI), a novel method to assess rockfish productivity in the central-northern California coastal marine environment. Kyra has also worked on seabirds as indicators of the ecosystem conditions that influence the survival of salmonids and herring during the ocean-going phase of their life cycle (Roth et al. 2007). Kyra wrote, edited, and coordinated the California Current Marine Bird Conservation Plan, an ecosystem-based approach for seabird conservation along the west coast of North America. Kyra currently works for the Oiled Wildlife Care Network at UC Davis, where she is the Field Operations Coordinator. During spill response, Kyra coordinates the wildlife capture teams and during non-spill times she is busy with trainings, outreach, readiness, and research.

Adele Paquin, M.Sc.

Collaborator

Adele Paquin Adele was first introduced to biological oceanography when she sailed on a five-week oceanographic cruise with Sea Education Association in the eastern tropical Pacific. She returned to land to complete a B.A. in Biology from Hamilton College, then moved to California to conduct research with Dr. Karina Nielsen on how oceanographic conditions mediate ecological interactions in the rocky intertidal. Adele entered the M.Sc. program at Sonoma State University in order to follow her interest in biological oceanography, and studied the event- and seasonal-scale forcing of surfzone phytoplankton community composition and abundance. Her current interest is in studying how phytoplankton links oceanographic conditions with patterns in secondary production and higher trophic organism communities.

John Piatt, Ph.D.

Collaborator

John Piatt John Piatt is a research scientist for the USGS Alaska Science Center in Anchorage, Alaska. John studied the behavioral ecology of murre and puffin predation on capelin in eastern Newfoundland until he was lured to Alaska in 1987 to study auklets at St. Lawrence Island. Since then, he helped document the impact of the Exxon Valdez oil spill on seabirds, and examined how natural variability in marine food webs in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea affected the biology and behavior of breeding seabirds. In recent years, John has studied oceanography, forage fish and seabirds in glacial-fjord ecosystems of the Gulf of Alaska and in passes of the Aleutian archipelago. John has served on the science advisory panel for the North Pacific Research Board, as editor for The Auk and Marine Ecology Progress Series, and as Affiliate Professor at the University of Washington and Oregon State University. John and his wife Nancy Naslund currently reside in Port Townsend, Washington, on the Flying Auk Ranch.

Ryan Rykaczewski, Ph.D.

Collaborator

Ryan Rykaczewski Ryan is an Assistant Professor in the Marine Science Program and the Biological Sciences Department at the University of South Carolina. He completed his Ph.D. in Oceanography at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (University of California, San Diego) in 2009 where his research investigated the influence of wind patterns on planktivorous fishes and their prey (Rykaczewski and Checkley 2008). During postdoctoral work at the NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton University, and the NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center, Ryan acquired experience with general circulation and earth system models used to project the impacts of future climate change on marine ecosystems. His current interests focus on large-scale, coupled, physical-biological processes through which climate influences marine food webs and carbon fluxes—particular in eastern boundary currents (e.g., Rykaczewski and Dunne 2010). Prior to his graduate work, Ryan received a B.S. from the University of Miami and served as a fisheries observer in the Bering Sea.

Jarrod A. Santora, Ph.D.

Collaborator

Jarrod A. Santora Jarrod is a researcher for the Center for Stock Assessment Research (CSTAR) at the University of California Santa Cruz and studies comparative ecosystem oceanography.

Nandita Sarkar, Ph.D. & Isaac Schroeder, Ph.D.

Collaborators

Nanditat Sarkar and Isaac Schroeder Physical oceanographers Drs. Nandita Sarkar and Isaac Schroeder have joined Farallon Institute as collaborators. Housed at NOAA's Environmental Research Division (ERD), Isaac and Nandita are working on a variety of projects related to integrating measurements of upwelling and currents with the productivity, habitat selection and population dynamics of top predators in the California Current and Gulf of Alaska. Trained at the Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography of Old Dominion University in Virginia, both Isaac and Nandita worked on linking physical oceanography and ecosystem productivity in the Gulf of Alaska for their doctorates. Their skill sets include satellite oceanography, analysis of in situ oceanographic measurements (CTD casts, etc.), and advanced time-series statistics, including maximum entropy, spectral and wavelet analyses. They live in Monterey with their son.

Robert Suryan, Ph.D.

Collaborator

Robert Suryan Rob is an Assistant Research Professor at Oregon State University's Hatfield Marine Science Center and has been conducting research in the North Pacific Ocean for over 15 years. His research interests include marine ecosystem processes and their effect on foraging ecology, reproduction, and population dynamics of mid to upper trophic-level consumers, particularly seabirds (Suryan et al. 2006a). Additional investigations include satellite remote sensing applications to study atmospheric and oceanographic effects on apex predator distribution (Suryan et al. 2006b), identification of biological "hotspots", and the effects of climate change. Some of Rob's studies also involve seabird-fishery interactions (Suryan et al. 2007).

Kenai Mia Luna

Office Assistant

Kenai’s academic achievements include a M.Sc. in the ecology of small mammals, with an emphasis on pocket gophers. Kenai specializes in capture and mark (recapture is often not possible) studies of gophers, and statistical analyses of gophers consumed per dig. She’s also adept at the identification and abuse of fence deficiencies. Her office duties include visitor and staff welcome and reception, providing comfort and distraction from serious scientific focus, and minding the clock to announce the impending end of each workday.

Keshi

Office Assistant

Keshi is an avid birder with a specialty in seabirds. She studies their behavior, migration patterns and resilience to stalking and staring. However, she also extends this research to other canines. Keshi's office duties include enthusiastically greeting people, teaching Spanish to the office staff, providing toys when a break from research is needed, and preventing Kenai from distracting the scientific process. As a dedicated working dog, Keshi is ready to go to work very early in morning, every single day.