Research

Even the smallest person can change the course of the future

- J.R.R. Tolkien

The first chapter of my PhD disseration assessed how kelp forest grazers respond to the co-occuring environmental changes brought on by upwelling. We first collected high-resolution pH, temperature and dissolved oxygen data from a central California kelp forest to inform our treatment conditions. We then used a mesocosm experiment to manipulate the pH, temperature and dissolved oxygen that sea urchin and snail grazers experienced in the lab and measured multiple biological and physiological responses to assess how these natural environmental changes affect the grazers in our study. This work is especially important as upwelling is predicted to increase in frequency and intensity due to climate change.  Aspects of this work were featured in UCSC ScienceNotes.

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The second chapter of my PhD disseration synthesized data across over 300 studies and used a meta-analysis to better understand how acidification and warming combine to impact marine organisms. Our aim was to use a mechanistic understanding of how species respond to pH and temperature in isolation to better predict how species will respond to concurrent warming and acidification. Since warming and acidification are happening at the same time in our oceans, this work will hopefully help improve predictions for how species will respond to future climate change.

The third chapter of my disseratation assessed whether populations from more variable environmental regimes are more resilient to future climate change compared to populations currently experiencing less variable environmental conditions. We first established a network of oceanographic sensors to characterize the environmental conditions within kelp forests along the coast of CA in collaboration with scientists from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) and ReefCheckCA. We then used a common garden experiment to rear red sea urchins collected from northern and southern CA at regional current and future environmental regimes and measured multiple ecological and physiological responses.  

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The first chapter of master's thesis at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) assessed how OA and warming impact the growth and physiology of a species of articulated coralline algae, Calliarthron cheiliosporioides. We found that growth and calcification were reduced under both warming and acidic scenarios, but the impact of acidity was often greater than warming. 

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The second chapter of my master's thesis focused on how ocean acidification and grazing by purple sea urchins alters community structure in kelp forests found in San Diego and Carmel, CA. We found that the impacts of OA and grazing were context-dependent and may be influenced by the initial assemblage structure (the identity and abundance of organisms) and prior pH exposure. Click here to read more about this project featured in the Environmental Monitor or check out our publication in JEMBE.

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