Joseph Merz

Title                 Assistant Adjunct


Division    Physical & Biological Sciences

Department                 Ecology &                                                         Evolutionary Biology

Affiliations     Institute of Marine Sciences

                 Cramer Fish Sciences





FAX                       831-459-3383


Center for Ocean Health                       252B

Campus Mail Stop

Long Marine Lab

Mail                 100 Shaffer Road

Santa Cruz, CA



The interplay of species, dynamic habitats, and the human-dominated landscape are of particular interest to me.  For instance, California is perhaps one of the most diverse environments in North America.  While its Mediterranean climate suggests an arid land, plate tectonics, numerous mountain ranges, and seasonal storms blown in from the Pacific Ocean set up a hydro-flux unlike anywhere else on Earth.  The ebb and flow of nutrients via migratory fish, ungulates, and waterfowl create a productive landscape rivaling the Serengeti.  This climate, fertility, and hydro cycle have been mirrored in the influx of diverse peoples, creating a population growth at the forefront of the world’s developed nations.  This mixture has generated one of the wealthiest economies and put California at the lead of environmental research and legislation.  Yet, it has also set the stage for a potentially devastating outcome as our growing population continues to stress water supplies and the resources that rely upon them.

The focus of my research has been on the relationships between various aquatic species and their environments, and the effects of anthropogenic influences on those relationships.  I am especially interested in effects of flow regulation and bed sediment manipulation on aquatic communities of highly regulated river systems of the Sierra Nevada and the Central Valley of California.  My most recent work entails the study of marine-derived nutrient transfer in a highly altered salmon stream of California’s wine country.  Do the pathways of nutrient transfer still function in a human-dominated landscape?  Is there potential for exploiting salmon carcasses instead of inorganic fertilizer to help support the economy of this region?

As the world’s 8th largest economy, California’s diverse landscape, peoples, and economic backbone (agriculture and technology) create a unique opportunity to study ecosystem management and its influence on diverse cultures and their access to those ecosystem resources.  It is extremely important that we understand these dynamics to conserve and protect the resources we rely upon.


Statement of Interest

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