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Ecology of California Wetlands
An estuary is commonly defined as a partially enclosed coastal body of brackish water that joins one or more freshwater streams or rivers to the ocean. However, in regions like California, that experience Mediterranean like climate regimes, estuary mouth closure behind a sandbar or raised beach berm impounds systems of variable salinity during periods of lowered "summer" stream flow. This phenomenon has profound implications for estuarine function. The degree of closure strongly influences salinity, water quality, and tidal processes. In California, this is a common phenomenon where the vast majority of estuaries along the coast are partially or completely isolated from marine tidal influence either seasonally or episodically. My research looks at the biological responses to physical process. Specifically, how does mouth closure and/or breaching effect the presence/absence of native and endangered taxa, trophic dynamics, and community structure in a variety of estuarine habitats. Jacob's Lab Website
Conservation of the Endangered Tidewater Goby
The endangered tidewater goby (Eucyclogobius newberryi) is native to California, and specializes in estuarine habitats that exhibit some degree of seasonal closure or isolation from the sea (see above section). I have worked on the tidewater goby since 2010, describing its early life history (larval duration, size at settlement, and growth rates) through otolith analysis. In addition, I examined how variations in temperature effect larval development (download thesis here). Currently I am looking at how physical process, anthropogenic habitat modifications, and climate change influences tidewater goby persistence and dispersal using a variety of methods including field surveys, genetic analysis, and ecological modeling. In addition, I am also interested in broad scale ecological questions that are associated with the tidewater goby and other native/nonnative species that co-occur in seasonally closed estuaries. Jacob's Lab Website
SONGS Artificial Reef Project
Since 2010, I have worked with Dr. Mark Steele's Lab at California State University, Northridge on the SONGS (San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station) large-scale artificial reef mitigation project. The artificial reef is located off the coast of southern California, in San Diego County. The Steele lab is in charge of investigating the effectiveness of the artificial reef, with respect to reproductive output, growth rate and productivity of several kelp-associated fishes. Check out his website for more information on his lab and research interests.
Steele Lab website
Mo'orea Coral Reef Research
I was directly involved with four student research projects that were associated with the UCLA Marine Biology Quarter (MBQ) in Mo'orea, French Polynesia. Projects include: 1) density of the boring clam Lithophaga laevigata and the snail Dendropoma spp. in Porites coral heads as a function of water quality, 2) variation in benthic community composition of a reef flat, 3) the effects of small-scale boat channels on coral cover and fish diversity, and 4) the long-term impacts of dredging on a coral reef structure and community composition.
Affiliates and Supporting Agencies
© Brenton Spies Photography:
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