Karina Nielsen

Karina Nielsen

Former Executive Director, Adjunct Professor of Biology / Director, Oregon Sea Grant
Coastal Ecosystems
Email: karina.nielsen@oregonstate.edu


My scientific research focuses on how oceanographic, climatic and anthropogenic factors influence the functioning of coastal ecosystems, spanning the boundaries of disciplines and ecosystems. I also work at the boundary between science and policy in my professional service. I am a member of the California Ocean Protection Council’s Science Advisory Team (OPC-SAT) and serve on the Governing Council for the Central and Northern California Ocean Observing System (CeNCOOS). I earned my BS in Biology from Brooklyn College, City University of New York and my PhD in marine ecology from Oregon State University. I spent two years as an National Science Foundation International Postdoctoral Fellow at the Estación Costera de Investigaciones Marinas, Universidad Católica in Las Cruces, Chile and then another two years as postdoctoral fellow with the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans. Before coming to SF State, I was a Professor of Biology at Sonoma State University.

My students and I have done field work in rocky intertidal, sandy beach and salt marsh ecosystems, and studied the nearshore and surf zone ecosystems that wash over them. We address questions about the physiological ecology intertidal seaweeds such as how heat and desiccation stress, changes on ocean pH or nutrient availability influence their distribution and abundance. We examine how these factors combine with species interactions to influence intertidal community structure and function. We investigate how surf zone phytoplankton assemblages are influenced by nearshore physical processes. We study ecosystem connectivity between sandy beaches, subtidal kelp forests and other nearby ecosystems. We are interested in how conservation and natural resource management actions, such as marine protected areas and species specific regulations for harvest or take, influence the structure and functioning of marine ecosystems and populations.  We conduct experimental and observational research to increase our understanding of how environmental conditions and human activities, including conservation and management policies, influence marine life and ecosystem health.  We communicate what we learn to inform conservation and management policies, and to enhance public understanding and appreciation of marine science.

Selected Papers

  • Hacker SD, Menge BA, Nielsen KJ, Chan F, Gouhier TC. 2019. Regional processes are stronger determinants of rocky intertidal community dynamics than local biotic interactions. Ecology.DOI: 10.1002/ecy.2763
  • Saarman ET, Owens B, Murray SN, Weisberg SB, Ambrose RF, Field JC, Nielsen KJ, Carr MH. 2018. An ecological framework for informing permitting decisions on scientific activities in protected areas. PloS one 13(6):e0199126.
  • Freiwald, J, Meyer, R, Caselle, JE, Blanchette, CA, Hovel, K, Neilson, D, Dugan, J, Altstatt, J, Nielsen, KJ and Bursek, J. 2018. Citizen science monitoring of marine protected areas: Case studies and recommendations for integration into monitoring programs. Marine Ecology39, p.e12470. doi.org/10.1111/maec.12470
  • Ramirez KS, Berhe AA, Burt J, Gil-Romera G, Johnson RF, Koltz AM, Lacher I, McGlynn T, Nielsen KJ, Schmidt R, Simonis JL. 2018. The future of ecology is collaborative, inclusive and deconstructs biases. Nature Ecology & Evolution2(2):200.
  • F. Chan, J. A. Barth, C. A. Blanchette , R. H. Byrne, F. Chavez, O. Cheriton, R. A. Feely, G. Friederich, B. Gaylord, T. Gouhier, S. Hacker, T. Hill, G. Hofmann, M. A. McManus, B. A. Menge, K. J. Nielsen, A. Russell, E. Sanford, J. Sevadjian & L. Washburn 2017. Persistent spatial structuring of coastal ocean acidification in the California Current System. Scientific Reports | 7: 2526 | DOI:10.1038/s41598-017-02777-y