Maya’s research reveals how the fundamental relationship between feeding morphology and feeding ecology on the individual level can help to shape the trophic ecology of an ecosystem. My lab further explores how environmental change may alter these relationships. We approach these classic questions in functional morphology and ecology by integrating tools from animal behavior, biomechanics, stable isotope ecology, robotics, and engineering.
Dr. Liz Alter is a population geneticist and evolutionary biologist who recently joined the faculty of the Biology and Chemistry Department at California State University Monterey Bay. She is also a Research Associate at the American Museum of Natural History. Her research, published in peer-reviewed journals including PNAS and Molecular Ecology, focuses on understanding how aquatic biodiversity is generated and maintained, particularly in extreme environments including urban estuaries and rivers, using the tools of genomics. She directs an undergraduate STEM initiative funded by the National Science Foundation (Bridge to Research in Environmental and Applied Metagenomics), which aims to improve retention and academic success in STEM among underrepresented and first-generation students by immersing them in real-world research experiences, and to simultaneously improve our state of knowledge about pressing local environmental issues. Liz also advises the Scientific Advisory Board of the Billion Oyster Project, which seeks to restore urban marine ecosystems while training high school students in marine science. She received her B.A. in Anthropology and Biology from Yale University, and PhD in Biological Sciences from Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station.
Liz Alter Presents: Using genomic tools to explore fish evolution in extreme environments
Heavy metal pollution of the aquatic environment continues to be among the most challenging environmental concerns in the Gulf of Guinea. The problem has escalated over the past few decades mainly because of the lack enforcement for regulating industrial effluent discharges into the aquatic environment and the indiscriminate use of toxic metals in artisanal gold mining. The study presents a historical assessment of heavy metal accumulation trends in Ghana’s coastal environment looking into ecotoxicological risks and seafood safety implications.
Dr. Edem Mahu Presents: Ocean Health and Seafood Safety in the Gulf of Guinea
Melissa’s fisheries background spans across academic, governmental, and non-profit sectors. She has performed a wide variety of fisheries research projects including age and growth studies of rockfish, fishery sustainability and markets, socio-economic analyses, geo-spatial mapping and qualitative ethnographic research.Early in her career, Melissa developed a fisheries education project for Monterey Bay area youth (now run by NOAA’s Sanctuary Program), and most recently a documentary film to tell the stories of California’s commercial fishermen (www.oftheseamovie.com).
Prior to joining EDF’s team, Melissa worked for The Nature Conservancy of CA, forming collaborative partnerships with fishermen to test new co-management techniques, market-based incentives, and monitoring technologies for improved fisheries management. Melissa currently serves as Steering Committee member to the National EM Working Group and as an Advisor to the Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust, a local non-profit serving the commercial fishing industry.
Melissa Mahoney Presents: The Age and Growth of an MLML Ichthyology Alum: 20 years in and around the Pacific Groundfish fishery
Ross Clark has 20 years of experience drafting and implementing California’s Nonpoint Source Control Program both as a university researcher and as state agency staff. He is currently charged with developing regional programs to improve the restoration and management of state wetland resources and implementing programs to reduce nutrient loading to Central Coast surface waters. Ross manages a team of field scientists supporting the development and implementation of the State’s wetland monitoring program and the integration of wetland restoration activities into regional and State water quality and land use planning efforts. Since 2008 he has also been tasked with developing the City of Santa Cruz strategic plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and identify key threats from, and appropriate responses to climate change and sea level rise.
Ross Clark Presents: Sea level rise vulnerability of natural and human coastal ecosystems
Dr. Crissy Huffard earned a PhD through UC Berkeley, conducted a postdoctoral fellowship at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), and worked for several years with Conservation International Indonesia. In 2012 she joined a team at MBARI studying deep-sea carbon sequestration at Station M--an abyssal time-series site off the California coast.
Christine Huffard Presents: Don’t blink: what we’ve learned from persistent autonomous instruments at the Station M abyssal time series
Sherry Palacios is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Marine Science at California State University, Monterey Bay. Her expertise is in using remote sensing and modeling tools for understanding water quality in estuarine and coastal systems, identifying and tracking water masses in coastal environments including river plumes and harmful algal blooms (HABs), and developing algorithms to discriminate phytoplankton functional types to understand phytoplankton biodiversity in coastal systems and inland lakes. Potential applications of her work include tracking carbon flow through ecosystems, understanding the ocean carbon budget, and monitoring for cyanobacterial HABs in drinking water systems.
She has a career total of 8-months at-sea or shore-based field-work in remote locations. Prior to CSUMB, she was a research scientist at NASA Ames Research Center where she worked on remote sensing algorithm development for next-generation hyperspectral satellite sensors. She also worked on a number of education and capacity building projects including the NASA Student Airborne Research Program (SARP), NASA DEVELOP, NASA ARSET, and the NASA Indigenous People’s Initiative. Sherry is passionate about STEM education and is on the board of Elevate Tutoring, a STEM tutoring organization helping under-served communities. She holds a B.A. in Biology with a minor in Marine Science from Smith College, a M.S. from Moss Landing Marine Laboratories with a focus on seagrass biology, and a Ph.D. in Ocean Science from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a focus on Biological Oceanography and ocean optics.
Sherry teaches Introduction to Oceanography and Biological-Physical Oceanography at CSUMB.
Sherry will talk about her current research projects, career path, opportunities with her group, and things she’s learned along the way.
Murray Duncan, Stanford/Hopkins Marine Station
Hosted by The Ichthyology Lab
Presenting: "Integrating physiology and ocean weather to predict climate change responses of fishes"
MLML Virtual Seminar | September 3rd, 2020 at 4pm
Dr. Murray Duncan is a fisheries eco-physiologist currently doing a postdoc at the Department of Geological Sciences and Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford University. Before moving to California, Murray obtained his PhD from Rhodes University in South Africa and completed a one-year postdoc at the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity. He has worked extensively throughout the coastal zone of southern Africa, from Namibia to Mozambique, where he has developed and led field and lab eco-physiology research. His overarching focus is using physiological mechanisms to elucidate responses of marine organisms to the environmental stress caused by climate change. In his current position he is testing the efficacy of physiological models which incorporate temperature and oxygen availability at explaining climate effects on purple urchin (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus) and red abalone (Haliotis rufescens) in the California Current System.
Scott Shaffer, SJSU (MLML Visiting Scientist)
Hosted by The Vertebrate Ecology Lab
Presenting: "Devil's in the details: Adaptability in habitat use of Western gulls"
MLML Virtual Seminar | August 27th, 2020 at 4pm
Plasticity in foraging behavior among individuals, or across populations may reduce competition and likely enhances the adaptability to buffer changes in food resources. Western gulls (Larus occidentalis) consume a wide range of marine and terrestrial foods but foraging patterns are not well understood, especially across multiple populations. My colleagues and I have been using GPS loggers to compare foraging behavior of western gulls breeding at seven colonies from Oregon to southern California. Detailed behavior of the gulls has revealed some interesting and surprising results at the population, individual, and when combined with additional sampling, the microbiome level.
Tierney Thys, National Geographic
Presenting: "Creative conservation for the unconverted"
MLML Webinar | May 7th, 2020 at 4pm
As Rachel Carson wrote, ”It is not half so important to know, as to feel.” Acknowledging, understanding and wielding the power of emotional messaging for scientifically-informed, conservation causes is an ongoing, challenging task. We, humans, are complex, emotionally driven creatures who make decisions based on our own sets of wide-ranging values. To effectively message marine science and conservation requires a multi-step process involving three integral components: 1) quantifying the current state of the ocean’s goods and services for people; 2) framing those scientific findings in a narrative way that speaks to the audiences’ diverse sets of values and; 3) experimenting, evaluating and honing those narratives since there is no one-size-fits-all. Multi-disciplinary collaborations are integral to this iterative process and the number of innovative groups experimenting in this realm is growing. In this talk I present a range of interdisciplinary conservation projects, lessons learned along the way plus offer a hopeful look to the future.