San José State University celebrates 150 year anniversary with SJSU Heritage Day

On October 20, 2020, San José State University, the administrative campus of Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, celebrates 150 years in the city of San Josè! We take great pride in SJSU’s legacy as the oldest public university in California and the founding campus in the California State University system and look forward to the next 150 years.

To kick off the year-long celebration, SJSU has released the first in a series of videos that will explore our heritage and societal contributions but also look ahead to our future. Watch the SJSU Heritage Day video below and don't miss the segment featuring MLML!

Professor Amanda Kahn joins Nautilus Live Expedition

Professor Amanda Kahn of the SJSU/MLML Invertebrate Ecology Lab is currently serving as a "Scientist Ashore" with the Nautilus Live 2020 Expedition. The focus of this expedition is to shine new light on little-known regions of the deep sea along the North American West Coast, from British Columbia to Southern California. Professor Kahn is assisting with the Central California National Marine Sanctuary portion of the expedition that runs from October 3-16, 2020. Also serving on the expedition team is MLML alumnus Chad King who now works as a Research Specialist with the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

To learn more about Professor Kahn's contributions to the Nautilus Exploration Program, check out her profile on the Nautilus Live website.

SJSU/MLML research affiliate Sea Otter Savvy organizes Sea Otter Awareness Week 2020

Sea Otter Savvy, a research and educational organization and SJSU/MLML research affiliate, is hosting Sea Otter Awareness Week 2020. Held annually during the last week of September, Sea Otter Awareness Week (SOAW) is a celebration of these unique marine mammals. SOAW activities include include sharing stories, disseminating science, and generating media that inspire a deeper awareness of sea otters, their ecological importance, and the many challenges they face. The theme of this year’s SOAW is “Bridging The Gaps,” in acknowledgement of the breaches that exist in our understanding of how to keep marine ecosystems whole and resilient and how to protect vulnerable species. SOAW 2020 runs from September 20th-26th and is organized and sponsored by Sea Otter Savvy, Defenders of Wildlife, and the California Department of Parks and Recreation

You can also find the complete Sea Otter Awareness Week schedule here. Be sure to also follow Sea Otter Savvy and Moss Landing Marine Laboratories on our social media accounts linked below to make sure you don’t miss any of the SOAW activities and educational posts!

MLML Social Media

Sea Otter Savvy Social Media

EPA awards nearly $1 million in grant funds to SJSU/MLML researchers studying harmful algal blooms

We are excited to announce that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded a nearly $1 million grant to San Jose State University and Moss Landing Marine Laboratories to address the environmental challenges posed by harmful algal blooms (HABs).

SJSU/MLML research faculty member Dr. Holly Bowers and Central Coast Wetlands Group (CCWG) researchers Ross Clark and Kevin O’Connor will use the funds to research how to prevent and control HABs using runoff treatment systems to reduce nutrient discharges from farms. This grant is part of $6,487,188 million awarded to seven institutions across the country.  "We are excited to participate in this new research to measure the connections between agricultural runoff and harmful algal blooms, and to identify sustainable agricultural practices that will lead to better ocean conditions,” says SJSU College of Science Dean Michael Kaufman.

Read more here about this new research project in the EPA press release

SJSU/MLML aquaculture researchers help restore native Olympia oysters to Elkhorn Slough

The first effort to use aquaculture to restore native Olympia oysters in California has proven a success thanks to a team of researchers from San Jose State University/MLML, Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, and California Sea Grant.

Once so abundant that they could be harvested by the tens of thousands in just a few days, the population of oysters in Elkhorn Slough had plummeted to fewer than 1,000 individuals by 2018. In response to this decline, researchers raised thousands of oysters at the MLML Aquaculture Facility which were then outplanted in Elkhorn Slough. Two years of monitoring have shown that this effort successfully doubled the Olympia oyster population!

SJSU/MLML Research Faculty Member Dr. Luke Gardner reviews the success of this exciting project and the importance on conservation aquaculture in this California Sea Grant story. The results from this project were also published in a scientific journal article in Biological Conservation.

Professor Gitte McDonald receives prestigious NSF CAREER Award

MLML is excited to announce that Dr. Birgitte (Gitte) McDonald, faculty member of San José State University, has been awarded a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation for $935,931. The Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) supports promising young scientists, providing funds to allow them to greatly expand their research capability in the early stages of their career. Dr. McDonald will be using the funds to support graduate students and postdocs, develop a new biologging course, and contribute data to an NSF-funded afterschool program. Dr. McDonald’s research program is described below.

As ice-dependent top predators, Emperor Penguins are indicators of both drastic and subtle changes occurring throughout the food web and the state of the sea ice. Like other predators, they are vulnerable to environmental change: these changes permeate through the food web, modifying foraging behavior, and ultimately survival and reproduction. Despite their importance in the Southern Ocean ecosystem, relatively little is known about the mechanisms Emperor Penguins use to find and acquire food. This study combines a suite of technological and analytical tools to gain essential knowledge on Emperor Penguin foraging energetics, ecology, and habitat use during critical periods in their life history.

Specifically, this project (1) investigates the foraging energetics, ecology, and habitat use of Emperor Penguins at Cape Crozier, the 2nd most southern colony, during late chick-rearing. Energy management is particularly crucial during late chick-rearing as parents need to feed both themselves and their rapidly growing offspring, while being constrained to regions near the colony. And (2) study the ecology and habitat preference of Ross Sea Emperor Penguins after the molt and through early reproduction. The post-molt foraging trip may be the most dangerous time for Emperor Penguins as they recover from a 50% loss in protein, while doubling their body mass for the reproduction fast ahead of them. This study fills important knowledge gaps on the energy balance, diet, and habitat use of Emperor Penguins during these critical periods, while also addressing fundamental questions in ecology.

Research faculty member Dr. Iliana Ruiz-Cooley studies movement of harmful algal bloom toxins through food web

Harmful algal blooms (HABs) occur when colonies of toxin-producing algae grow out of control. Along the California coast, some of those most severe blooms are caused by the algae Pseudo-nitzschia (pictured here), which produces a neurotoxin called domoic acid. This toxin accumulates in small fish, like sardines and anchovies, which are then eaten by marine mammals and humans, leading to neurological disorders and ultimately death if not treated.

SJSU/MLML research faculty member Dr. Iliana Ruiz-Cooley uses stable isotopes to study how domoic acid moves through marine food webs in Monterey Bay. This California Sea Grant-funded research will advance our understanding of HAB dynamics and improve both fisheries management strategies and marine mammal conservation efforts.

Read more about Dr. Ruiz-Cooley’s HAB research in the California Sea Grant story.

California sea lion exhibiting effects of domoic acid toxicity. Photo credit: Iliana Ruiz-Cooley

Alumna Brijonnay Madrigal awarded NOAA Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship

MLML alumna Brijonnay Madrigal was recently named a 2020 Nancy Foster Scholar! The highly competitive NOAA Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program supports women and minorities pursuing graduate research in oceanography and marine biology.

Bri received her MS in Marine Science from MLML in 2019. Her master’s thesis research through our Vertebrate Ecology Lab examined the acoustic behavior of killer whales from the Bering and Chukchi Sea in Alaska. She will be heading to the University of Hawaii at Manoa to begin her PhD in the fall.

Learn more about Bri and the Nancy Foster Scholarship Program in the NOAA media release.

Professors Michael Graham and Scott Hamilton receive new California Sea Grant funding

SJSU/MLML Professors Michael Graham of our Phycology Lab and Scott Hamilton of our Ichthyology Lab have received new grant funding from California Sea Grant. Their project titled “Assessment of practical methods for re-establishment of northern California bull kelp populations at an ecologically relevant scale” will focus on restoring native seaweed populations and combatting destructive sea urchin overgrowth.

This grant is one of six funded by California Sea Grant as part of their 2020 Kelp Recovery Research Program. Together the grants total $2.1 million and are funded jointly by California Sea Grant and the California Ocean Protection Council, in collaboration with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Read more about Dr. Graham and Dr. Hamilton's new research project here.

Professor Gitte McDonald featured on Voices from Antarctica Podcast

SJSU/MLML Professor Gitte McDonald and Vertebrate Ecology Lab graduate student Parker Forman are featured in the latest episode of Radio New Zealand’s Voices from Antarctica podcast.

Last fall, Dr. McDonald traveled to Cape Crozier, Antarctica to lead a team of researchers studying the foraging ecology of emperor penguins. Learn more about their research and what it’s like to live and work in Antarctica in the podcast! Listen here.

Photo credit: Gitte McDonald

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