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COAST Award Program
SACNAS National Diversity in STEM Conference
Something in the water: environmental DNA profiling of tide pool biodiversity
The harsh environment of the rocky intertidal zone makes it one of the most diverse and unique ecosystems on Earth; its inhabitants rely on a fragile balance of stressors and adaptations which are easily disturbed. As pollution levels and human disturbance steadily increase, reliable monitoring is crucial for conservation efforts of intertidal species, particularly by providing a baseline measurement of the species present in the environment. The analysis of environmental DNA (eDNA), or genetic material left behind by an organism in the form of tissue, excrement, or bodily fluid, has been instrumental to the conservation of other aquatic ecosystems. As no exclusive analysis of intertidal rocky tide pool habitats has been performed to date, we examined the capacity for eDNA extraction and analysis in the rocky tide pools of Southern California as a novel method for biomonitoring. We extracted eDNA from water samples taken from isolated tide pools at two different rocky intertidal sites across a three day period. Using the portable MinION nanopore sequencer (Oxford Nanopore Technologies) we performed polymerase chain reaction amplification and real-time DNA barcoding of our eDNA samples. Our results suggest that nanopore sequencing is a viable method for the barcoding of intertidal organisms despite complicating environmental factors such as the shifts in the tide. Possible changes in current conservation methods to implement nanopore sequencing may ultimately improve the speed of species identification and reduce the need for large teams of scientists to enter the field, thereby helping to limit human disturbance in the intertidal zone.
Ocean Sciences Meeting, San Diego, CA
Variations in salinity and oxygen isotopes in the southern Indian Ocean
Stable isotopes of water (deuterium, D, and oxygen, ä18O) have been used as important tracers in the ocean for river run-off and importantly, for interior water masses in the world ocean because these isotopes are conservative once ocean water masses leave the surface. Like salinity, ä18O in the ocean can vary due to evaporation/precipitation, the influx of freshwater from river runoff and the melting of glaciers or sea ice. Paired ä18O and salinity can help to provide information about provenance and mixing of deep water masses. Previous studies have shown that surface waters generally exhibit a linear ä18O - salinity relationship where the slope depends on regional conditions. To better understand processes governing the isotopic signal in the surface ocean and their effect on deeper water mass values data from a range of depths and locations is needed. However, data sets with both surface and deeper waters are extremely sparse and limited, particularly in the Indian and Southern Oceans. In this study, water samples were collected along two transects between 30-42°S and 77- 115°E in the southern part of the Indian Ocean crossing from subtropical to subantarctic waters. For all locations water masses from the surface to 20 meters above the seafloor were sampled during November-December 2018. These transects are nominally located north and south of the subtropical front (STF), which separates the sub-antarctic and sub-tropical surface waters, and cross the formation zone for Subantarctic mode water (SAMW). Over 200 samples were collected and analyzed for water isotopes and compared to shipboard CTD measurements of salinity. Surface data show a correlation between…
Ocean Sciences Meeting, San Diego, CA
Elevated springtime macronutrient concentrations near freshwater inputs of Humboldt Bay, California and their effects on primary productivity
The number of coastal sites reporting hypoxia is slowly increasing each year as a consequence of eutrophication, characterized by excessive nutrients resulting in increased primary productivity. This research focuses on potential eutrophication in Humboldt Bay (HB), California, due to its several freshwater inputs subjected to agricultural runoff. This inflow of external nutrients may enhance the riverine concentrations of macronutrients. We hypothesized that macronutrient concentrations in HB near river mouths would be elevated above background levels during springtime high water flow and result in elevated primary productivity. Sampling occurred throughout HB during an ebb tide in April 2019 to assess nutrient concentrations (nitrate, nitrite, phosphate, ammonia and silicate), hydrographic parameters, chlorophyll concentration, density of phytoplankton cells, and phytoplankton community structure at each location. Station EB-1 (at the HB mouth) had the highest salinity, 1 psu greater than the highest value of any of the other stations within HB. Therefore, EB-1 serves as an ocean “reference location” to which we can compare HB conditions. The warmest (12.98-13.94℃) and least saline (30.74-32.10 psu) waters were observed in the North Bay, potentially indicating more significant freshwater influence. North Bay also had higher concentrations of chlorophyll and phytoplankton cells. Phytoplankton communities within North Bay were >90% similar to each other, and stations at the Elk River mouth (ERM) and within South Bay (SB-2) were <30% similar to other samples. Preliminary nutrient results show elevated silicate concentrations at station ERM, relative to station EB-1. These preliminary data suggests that North Bay experienced increased macronutrient concentrations from external sources that elevated primary productivity.
Macronutrient inputs in Humboldt Bay: collaborative oceanographic field work and research within the 2019 Senior Capstone Project at Humboldt State University, California
Surface ocean trace metal distributions across basin-scale transects: patterns from GEOTRACES GP15 and a comparison with GP16 and GA03
Surface ocean trace metal concentrations are governed by a myriad of factors including input from the air-sea interface, biological uptake, and particle scavenging. The GEOTRACES GP15 Pacific Meridional Transect traversed a wide range of surface ocean conditions, including (briefly) several marine biomes with variable nutrient demands, the coastal margin to the highly oligotrophic gyre, and a range of dust and biological particle regimes. In this work, these ocean conditions are compared with the surface dissolved trace metal concentrations from this cruise to better elucidate the biogeochemical cycling. Furthermore, the dissolved trace metal distribution data from previous GEOTRACES cruises in the North Atlantic (GA03) and South Pacific (GP16) are compared with GP15, highlighting broad patterns in surface trace metal distribution.
Reconstructing holocene upwelling conditions using diatom assemblage abundance in Monterey Bay, CA
National Audubon Society Conference
Reading a birds mind with GIS: utilizing technology as a conservation tool
Traditional monitoring methods of Endangered Species has always utilized harass by survey methodology that can be distressing to species of interest. However, with today's advances in technology we can redefine and modernize monitoring methods and techniques. By implementing ArcGIS and ArcPro accompaniments like Survey123 and Collector, we can analyze the role that these GIS applications can play in developing predictive models that can guide habitat management. These applications, as well as the utilization of drone technology, can provide more accurate recovery metrics to study the populations of Endangered Species such as the Western Snowy Plover and California Least Tern.
Understanding the seasonal dynamics of chemical and biological processes in a bay of the Central Coast of California
Nearshore regions provide a unique opportunity to study how local and large regional-scale processes interact to structure the chemical and biological environment. In this study, we couple inorganic carbonate chemistry with metrics assessing the biological community (e.g., chlorophyll a concentration and phytoplankton community structure via high throughput sequencing) to understand their seasonal variability in the coastal waters of San Luis Obispo Bay, CA. Seawater samples were collected monthly for approximately 1.5 years from the end of the California Polytechnic State University Pier in San Luis Obispo Bay using a CTD and sampling rosette. While carbonate chemistry is controlled broadly by large-scale ocean mixing and seasonal wind-driven coastal upwelling which bring low pH and low oxygen seawater into the bay, we also observe the impact of local physical (e.g., tides, local freshwater inputs) and biological (e.g., photosynthesis, respiration and bloom events) processes on the inorganic carbon dynamics. These processes can cause extreme variability and vertical stratification in this 10-m deep semi-enclosed bay. Given the importance of nearshore regions on global ocean dynamics, these results are significant for characterizing natural ecosystem variability, predicting future changes, and integrating coastal areas in our understanding of ocean biogeochemical cycling.
SACNAS - The National Diversity in STEM conference
Size matters: comparative morphology of Rockfish Urogenital Papilla
Rockfishes are a popular recreational and commercial fishery in California. Rockfish catches account for 20% of the state’s commercial harvest, which contributes $550 million dollars annually to California’s economy. As an economically and ecologically important fishery, regulatory agencies monitor the status of rockfish populations. However, there is no accurate method to identify sex, data that has important implications for fishery management. The objective of our study is to increase our understanding of rockfish reproduction by characterizing the male urogenital papilla of various rockfish species in order to establish a reliable method of externally identifying sex in the field. Rockfishes [starry (Sebastes constellatus), vermilion (Sebastus miniatus), squarespot (Sebastes hopkinsi), blue rockfishes (Sebastes mystinus)] were collected in southern California via hook and line. Gonadal tissues and genital papilla were dissected and preserved, then embedded in paraffin wax. Tissues were sectioned using a rotary microtome, stained, and histologically examined. Additional specimens were borrowed from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County for external measurements. We have determined that the morphology of the urogenital papilla is species-specific and can be used to accurately identify males. Our future work includes describing the morphology of additional rockfish species to develop a comprehensive tool for fishermen and agency biologists.
Behavioral responses of cultured white abalone (Haliotis sorenseni) to predatory sea stars in a laboratory experiment
White abalone (Haliotis sorenseni) was listed as federally endangered in 2001. Current conservation efforts include outplanting cultured abalone to enhance wild populations. However, one challenge to the success of these efforts is the high risk of predation on captive-bred abalone, which are naïve to predators. This study aimed to investigate whether cultured white abalone exhibit defense responses when exposed to a predator, if those defenses allow the abalone to escape, and whether the abalone escape more quickly after multiple encounters. In a laboratory experiment, cultured white abalone were exposed to a predator, the Giant Spined Star (Pisaster giganteus), over three consecutive five-minute trials. The type and duration of abalone behaviors were recorded throughout each trial, and then compared to those observed during a control trial where abalone were touched by a non-biological sponge, as well as a baseline trial with no stimulus applied. The abalone altered their behavior when exposed to P. giganteus relative to control and baseline trials, effectively breaking contact with the sea star by twisting (i.e., successive rotation of the shell) and galloping (i.e., rapid directional movement). They also escaped more quickly after the initial trial. These results indicate that cultured white abalone have an innate ability to recognize and respond to predators, and they can learn to escape more effectively through repeated encounters with predators. Predator exposure in the laboratory prior to outplanting may thus improve their survival in the wild.
Are western gulls (Larus occidentalis) in California spreading keratinophilic pathogens including Coccidioides spp. between habitats?
How are hagfish morphologically adapted to burrowing?
Elephant seal migration tendencies
Understanding the economical and nutritional effects of Southern California marine protected areas on recreational fishers of Ventura County
Characterizing the population structure of the invasive species Watersipora subtorquata in rocky intertidal communities
Variation in anal fin morphology in surfperches within and between species
Supplementing soybean meal and effluent bioremediation by the polychate worm Alitta brandti
Production of sablefish and seaweed in an IMTA system
I See CI
Documenting changes in terrestrial sediment sources to Monterey Bay over decadal and centennial time scales
The potential of Ulva lactuca in bioremediation under varying salinities
Understanding the physiological response of bull kelp under warming conditions
Southern California tegula thermaltolerance species comparison
Development of histological procedure for cross species comparison of the lateral pallium in Muraenidae
Microplastics in diatoms along an urban-
I See CI
Effect of calcium carbonate supplementation on lactate buffering and bone quality in the American alligator
Oxygen consumption rate of Southern California notchbrow blenny (Hypsoblennius gilberti)
Opposing influences of fasting stress and Igf1 on skeletal muscle gene pathways for Igf-signaling and myofibrillar protein degradation in gopher rockfish
Cold water corals as recorders of intruding circumpolar deep water along the Antarctic Margin
Extraction and detection of microplastics from water, sediment and biota (mole crabs) from Del Monte Beach, Monterey
Applying stomach content and stable isotope analysis to determine diet and trophic ecology of Hydrolagus colliei along the U.S. West Coast Boarder
Investigation of development rates of four Tigriopus californicus populations in response to different temperatures
Using machine learning to classify and estimate relative abundances of heterotrophic protists
Respiration of purple urchins, Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, in kelp forests and urchin barrens
Examining the effect of chemicals generated by the Camp Fire on the immune system of fishes
DNA barcoding of echinoderm larvae in Southern California
Southern California Tegula thermal tolerance species comparison
Assessing standardized gear types on the catch on nearshore groundfish
Designing and prototyping accessory optical imagery device for aid in data collection
Effects of contaminant cocktail on California least tern egg quality
Low-cost imaging instrument for harmful algal bloom detection
How temperature, light and nutrition effects symbiotic zooxanthellae in Anthopleura artemisia
The effects of pH on clams of the San Francisco Bay Delta Watershed
The relationship between ammonium concentrations and tidal current fluctuations through the Carquinez Strait
Adding resilience to kelp forests through the development of heat tolerant varieties for restoration
Red light-blue light: alkenone production in Isochrysis galbana is enhanced by red light, while growth is optimal under blue light
Investigation into magnetic orientation and turning neurons in the sea slug Tritonia tetraquetra