Ecology & Conservation

Dr. Sarah Cohen and her lab test the effects of environmental stressors on population health and measures genetic relationships among populations. Using diverse organisms such as sea anemones, sea squirts, sea stars, sea grasses, they compare population health to timing of temperature and salinity changes in wild habitats. They combine field and laboratory work to test our predictions using the EOS Center wet lab to raise organisms under controlled conditions of varied temperature and salinity. They assay population health with a variety of indicators including genetic measures of diversity and variation within and among populations, and study phylogeographic patterns to compare life history attributes and organismal behavior with population health and disease ecology.

The Hines Lab addresses population and community ecology of threatened and endangered species around the world as related to local conservation efforts and regional scale coastal and marine management science. They are committed to collaborating internationally with in-country scientists to solve conservation problems threatening marine mammals. In California, they work closely with National Marine Sanctuaries and local scientists around San Francisco Bay to model habitat and human uses for marine mammals and seabirds. They create risk assessments for anthropogenic threats such as shipping collisions, marine megafaunal bycatch and the effects of sea level rise on pinnipeds, sea otters, and birds in coastal estuaries.

The Boyer Lab (working with former Executive Director and Adjunct Professor Karina Nielsen) confronts ocean acidification and it's potential impact on the lower San Francisco estuary. With a pair of buoys and a new laboratory, the lab group has established a monitoring program for carbon chemistry. A second project aims to understand the fundamental structure and diversity of the bay’s rocky intertidal habitats on natural rock and cobble and on human constructed riprap and seawalls. Their research findings will contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of North American estuaries, especially urbanized estuaries. It will also fill two major knowledge gaps needed to inform restoration, climate adaptation, and conservation projects. These will inform ongoing work to conserve and restore native oysters, protect nursery habitat for many species including Dungeness crab, and habitats that contribute to the amelioration and sequestration of carbon.