Our Research


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Climate Change, Stress and Behavior

The Earth is changing.  Temperatures are getting warmer and more variable, ocean waters are getting more acidic and they hold less oxygen.  The salinity of coastal waters is becoming more variable. How are these environmental changes affecting the animals that live in the ocean? How does their metabolism change, and can it change enough to compensate? Will marine animals move from the places they used to live to new habitats that are more hospitable?  Will they reproduce less or at different times of year? Will their behaviors change?


Coastal Oceanography

What controls the exchange of waters between estuaries and the coastal ocean? How do winds, waves, tides and river runoff affect these exchanges? How do coastal and estuarine circulation affect the transport of sediments, oxygen, nutrients, fish and invertebrate larvae, pH, and pollutants? How is climate change impacting the dynamics of coastal ecosystems?


Marine Spatial Ecology and Endangered Species

When you see a whale, a seal, a seabird, or a shark does that indicate you are looking at a healthy ecosystem, or are these predators just passing through? Marine megafauna such as marine mammals, seabirds, sharks and turtles may also dramatically influence the kinds and numbers of plants and animals that live in the marine ecosystems where they spend time. 


Oysters and Water Quality

What happens to water quality when you remove an oyster farm from a bay? Oysters strain microscopic algae out of the gallons of water they filter every day. A single oyster can filter as much as 50 gallons a day. A unique opportunity to answer this question emerged when about 5 million cultured Pacific oysters were removed from Drakes Estero in California.



Crashing Waves & Baby Sea Urchins

Many ocean creatures send their planktonic babies, or larvae, into offshore waters to grow and develop while they also look for a home. Yet the sea is vast and the dangers are many! There is only a very slim chance that a larva will find its way to a place it can call home and safely transform into an adult. For larvae whose adult forms live on wave-exposed rocky shores, the survivors will be those that seize the rare opportunity to transition to adult life when the conditions are right. How do they figure this out?