Use the filters below to find awards made to CSU faculty members by Program, Campus, Year or Keyword.
COAST Award Program
Remote forcing of seasonal currents in the California Current System
UCEs for CSUs: A metazoan target-capture panel of ultraconserved elements for use in seascape genetics
California’s groundbreaking network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) was designed to conserve habitats and communities of the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem by providing stepping-stones of protected habitat that are assumed to be connected, for most species, by planktonically dispersing larvae. However, although there has been much research effort invested in monitoring nearly every aspect of individual MPAs, there are currently no existing initiatives to evaluate the realized connectivity of the network. Seascape genetic methods promise to provide such an evaluation, yet have fallen short in the past due to theoretical issues surrounding large population sizes and high genetic diversity in marine populations, as well as practical challenges such as genetic marker development and coordinated multi-species sampling effort. The proposed project seeks to address these issues by developing a “universal” panel of genetic markers anchored at genomic elements that are conserved across the diversity of animal phyla (ultraconserved elements; UCEs). A panel of such markers would be broadly useful for phylogenetic and population genetic studies, allow easy comparison across species, and would facilitate undergraduate research due to their relative ease of use and broad applicability. UCEs would also lend themselves nicely to analysis with a family of population genetic methods called coalescent models, which I have shown to be more powerful for evaluating marine population structure than traditional methods based on summary statistics. The UCE panel together with the preliminary data and analysis that result from this work will be used in multi-CSU campus proposals to NSF and California Sea Grant that would combine biophysical modeling of larval dispersal with coalescent modeling to test the hypothesis that California’s MPAs contain distinct ecological populations that are connected by direct dispersal of larvae.
Evaluating genetic responses to fishery selection in two Southern California fishes
Preliminary data for an NSF-DEB collaborative proposal: using phylogenomics to resolve the evolutionary origin of air-breathing molluscs
Aside from insects, air-breathing snails and slugs (pulmonates) comprise the most species-rich radiation of animals that evolved from a marine ancestor. However, the events and trait changes leading to this explosive diversification of >30,000 species remain unclear; neither studies using handfuls of genes from hundreds of species, nor hundreds of genes from handfuls of species, have resolved the evolutionary branching at the base of the pulmonates. We will collect preliminary genomic data to support an NSF-DEB pre-proposal, demonstrating we have the samples needed, and can collect the necessary data, to resolve this evolutionary puzzle. Our team combines experts funded by NSF-DEB who study Sacoglossa, photosynthetic sea slugs (Krug and Valdes), and Siphonarioidea, false limpets (Eernisse); one (or both together) likely comprises the sister group of pulmonates, but which one remains unclear. Moreover, our work has shown that deep evolutionary relationships within Sacoglossa and Siphonarioidea require genomic data to resolve, and many species remain to be described. We propose to use cutting-edge exon-capture techniques and next-generation DNA sequencing to generate five transcriptomes, and then to obtain sequences for 500 nuclear genes from ethanol-preserved tissues of 10 sacoglossan and two siphonariid genera. This will demonstrate (i) that we can generate and analyze phylogenomic data, and (ii) that combined with existing pulmonate sequences, our project will resolve relationships across this critical gastropod radiation. These data will support a full NSF proposal requesting support to sequence the remaining 24 sacoglossan and 2 siphonariid genus-level lineages plus outgroups. COAST funds ($20,000) will support generating and analyzing DNA sequence data, with a pre-proposal submitted to NSF-DEB by Jan 23, 2018. Our project will address major goals of DEB by (1) clarifying the evolutionary origins of Pulmonata and its key traits, (2) providing new systematic frameworks for Sacoglossa and Siphonarioidea, and (3) describing over 50 new species.
Chemical tracers of human activities and ecological associations in California vernal pools
The effects of anthropogenic activities, such as pollutants, on water quality are important to assess because they can have extensive effects on human and ecosystem health. Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs) are a broad class of compounds that include pharmaceuticals, personal care products, illicit drugs, herbicides and pesticides. Their “emerging concern” is indicated by the fact that measurements are being made but they are not currently regulated. Many freshwater ecosystems in California, such as wetlands, have not been assessed for CECs and its association with ecosystem health. Our proposal will address this gap by quantifying CECs in California vernal pools under different land use practices. Vernal pools are seasonal wetlands or ponds that support numerous endangered and threatened species. Vernal pools represent greatly reduced habitat (< 10% remain), and this remaining habitat is found in a matrix of urban and agricultural development. Consequently, vernal pools may be especially susceptible as a recipient of CECs. In addition, vernal pools represent the upper watershed of the Central Valley and the Sacramento River, and as such are hydrologically connected to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and San Francisco Bay. Assessing the relevant sources of water quality impact on vernal pool ecosystems through CEC measurement will also allow assessment of the relevance of specific sources on coastal ecosystem health due to this hydrological connection. The research proposed by PIs Miller-Schulze and Kneitel will be focused on collecting preliminary data on CEC concentrations and associate them with local land use, vernal pool size characteristics, water physico-chemistry (e.g., phosphates, nitrates, conductivity), and aquatic invertebrate and plant density and diversity. This will be the basis for developing competitive research proposal for the National Science Foundation. Graduate and undergraduate students from Departments of Chemistry and Biological Sciences will be included in this research, interact collaboratively, and disseminate results.
Contaminant-selective sponges for removal of ocean toxins
Seawater contaminated with high levels of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) poses an alarming threat to the health of humans and marine mammals. Endocrine disrupting chemicals (e.g. bisphenol A) and carcinogens (e.g. dyes and phthalic acids) are typical POPs that must be removed from seawater. One approach for removal of POPs from water involves using an adsorbent to soak up and remove pollutants. Metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) offer a “sponge-like” platform for seawater remediation, since they are structurally and chemically diverse and highly porous materials that are constructed from metal nodes bridged by organic ligands. However, no experimental studies have investigated the adsorption mechanisms of POPs within MOF membranes. This is critical to improving selectivity of POPs for seawater remediation. In this project, we propose to (a) monitor the effects of varying the metal cations on acid-base interactions, (b) change the functional groups on organic ligands and observe resulting hydrogen bonding interactions, and (c) vary the chemical functionality as a function of layers on chemical adsorption. Specifically, we will: (1) use a quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) to monitor the growth of MOFs; (2) probe film composition, morphology, crystallinity, and thickness using energy-dispersive x-ray spectroscopy, surface/cross-sectional scanning electron microscopy, and grazing-incidence x-ray diffraction; and (3) collect QCM data to probe chemical adsorption properties. If successful, this work will elucidate the mechanisms of adsorption in MOFs, and provide insight into some structure-property relations that are important for chemical adsorption in MOF membranes. Importantly, this work will elucidate design criteria for MOF “sponges” for removal of POPs, such as endocrine disrupting chemicals and carcinogens, from seawater.
Mapping social modifications to the natural estuarine environment in Alamitos Bay, Southern California
We are requesting funds to support the development of a USC Sea Grant grant proposal seeking funds to develop a prototype GIS geospatial visualization learning tool demonstrating the ways in which human construction and development have altered Alamitos Bay, Long Beach, California, through time. USC Sea Grant has expressed interest in our grant application to their program. The first step in this process entails the organization and preliminary analysis of historic land use data for Alamitos Bay, identification of temporal and spatial data gaps, and assessment of the utility of historic aerial photographs. Alamitos Bay is a significant urban, permanently open mouth estuarine system evincing a wide range of urban human uses. Our long term goal is to expand the prototype to include other estuaries in the network of estuaries integral to the southern California Bight. Using COAST funds, we will: 1) Remunerate two CSULA graduate students to help organize and assess the existing collection of historic maps and photographs already assembled by Sullivan’s undergraduate methods classes; 2) Building on #1, develop and submit a proposal to USC Sea Grant for funds to create a prototype visualization geospatial learning tool. Our COAST GDP application is an interdisciplinary (anthropology and marine biology) collaboration between faculty from CSULA and CSULB, and our larger grant effort will expand that collaboration by including scientists from Southern California Water Resources Project (SCWRP), strengthening both the interdisciplinary aspect and GIS expertise of the project. Our project is original in that it organically integrates estuary science and social science, emphasizes the temporal dimensions of spatial change, emphasizes urbanization, and utilizes geospatial visualization modeling as the basis of a digital learning tool. The content and methodology of our learning tool will set it apart as unique among an emerging catalog of digital environmental applications.
Proteomic response of the mussel Mytilus californianus to warm water discharge from Diablo Nuclear Power Plant: a "crystal ball" into future climate warming effects
Along the California coast, seawater is warming because of climate change, El Niño events and unusual “warm blobs.” It is imperative that we understand physiological responses of marine organisms to ocean warming to predict robustness and resilience of mussels in aquaculture, range shifts, survival, and evolutionary selection and local adaptation. The PG&E Diablo Nuclear Power Plant discharge area (DC) provides the opportunity to study future climate change effects on marine organisms by having a habitat where a warmer seawater gradient (up to 10-11°C higher than ambient) has existed for 30 years. A novel tool for studying environmental effects on marine physiology is proteomics, which is the study of global protein changes in an organism. Proteins act as the biochemical machinery functioning in an organism’s response to changing environments and allow us to assess the potential for adaptation to stressful conditions. We propose investigating proteomic responses of the marine intertidal mussel Mytilus californianus to warm and control seawater conditions. We hypothesize that mussels collected along the thermal gradient at DC will show increased abundance of key stress response proteins (heat shock proteins, proteases, antioxidants) in comparison to mussels collected from control sites. Our proposed work will provide vital information for coastal management and policy, while also advancing our knowledge of climate warming impacts on marine systems, which are priorities of CSU COAST. Our work will create research opportunities for two undergraduate assistants who will learn cutting-edge molecular biology techniques, be listed as co-authors on scientific publications, and present their work at national conferences. In total, we are requesting $16,164.00 from COAST to complete our proposed work and anticipate a completion date of August 2018 with submission to extramural funding from the National Sciences Foundation in 2019.
Development of a Sustainability Index for California’s Beaches: A Workshop
This COAST grant will facilitate a two-day workshop, sponsored by CSU Channel Islands, with the goal of constructing a Beach Sustainability Index (BSI), an objectively derived quantitative score based on readily available data or standardized observation. The BSI will accommodate the varying taxonomy of beach habitats across coastlines. We will bring together researchers, NGOs and stakeholders involved with policy/management to discuss how coastal ecosystem functions goods and services can be assessed/evaluated.
Establishing the age class and health status of fall congregations of humpback whales, Megaptera novaeangliae, in the coastal waters of Central California and the Santa Barbara Channel, using aerial photogrammetry
The highly productive waters of the Central California coastline and the Santa Barbara Channel serve as a key feeding ground for humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) of the Eastern North Pacific. Essentially, the region represents the southern-most extent of their feeding range along the western seaboard; typically, humpback whales feed in the region from early spring through late fall. Foraging opportunities during the fall may be particularly important, potentially representing a final opportunity for whales to build up energy reserves prior to migration to nutrient-impoverished breeding regions. In this study, we will compile surface photography and use a small UAV to gather aerial imagery of these fall aggregations of humpback whales. Surface photography will be used to identify whales, through the comparison of fluke markings to known fluke ID catalogues. Aerial images will be used to determine body morphometrics, establish age class and assess body condition in the individuals that make up these seasonal groups. As this population is currently under consideration for down-listing, potentially leading to loss of their protected status, this new information will provide timely, baseline details for use in future health assessments. Furthermore, as body condition potentially influences migratory behavior, detecting and describing body condition and associated health status of whales within this spatial and temporal window, immediately preceding their departure for the breeding grounds, may also inform our understanding of recently reported basin-wide anomalies in humpback whale migratory behavior during the 2016 El Nino event.
This proposal seeks Rapid Response funding for the 2017 sampling of a time-series analysis describing soft corals on shallow reefs in St. John, US Virgin Islands. The intellectual merit of the project lie in addressing how coral reefs will change in the future, but rather than focusing on the extensively-studied topic of the death of stony corals, it focuses on soft corals that are replacing stony corals in this location. My ongoing work provides a unique opportunity to describe this transition, as my students and I have been studying stony corals in St. John for 30 y. Recently we have analyzed 25 y of photographs to describe a gradual regime change in community structure favoring soft corals over stony corals. A limitation of this analysis is that soft corals cannot be identified to species in photographs, and with NSF support in 2014, we started in-water analysis to identify soft corals to species. At the end of the soft coral grant (May 2017) we have 3 y of data with which trends can be described, but the time series remains too sparse for rigorous analyses. An application for renewal to NSF recently was declined, and with the next submission due in August 2017 (for research in 2018), there is an urgent need to support 2017 surveys to maintain the integrity of the time-series, and test the hypothesis that soft corals communities are differentially changing relative to stony corals. This COAST proposal requests $7,500 that will be used for graduate support to conduct a 1-month fieldtrip to St. John, analyze data at CSUN, maintain competitiveness for NSF support, and promote graduate research leading to the MS degree. A grant submission for ~$500k will be submitted to NSF concurrent with the fieldwork supported by this application.
The current and potential distribution of an invasive annelid in central and southern California