Field Notes Archive
Field notes is an archive of monthly updates on multiple projects led by faculty and students in the School of Natural Sciences. The entries go from January of 2007 to December of 2016.
December 2016 I think we’re starting to see the first broccoli heads out in the field! Isabel Zaragoza, 2015 graduate of the Environmental Science Technology and Policy program at CSU, Monterey Bay has been working on a study in Gonzales, CA to quantify the benefits of best management practices for irrigation and nutrient management. Recent graduates and current students are working in collaboration with Salinas Valley growers, NASA Ames Research Center, UC Cooperative Extension and UC Davis to help quantify crop yield, nitrate leaching and N2O emissions, and examine the use of on-farm best management practices for Central California’s commodity crops. The project aims to provide growers with tools that will make it easier to use data-driven approaches to manage irrigation and fertilizer in the Central Coast.
November 2016 CSUMB Research Divers Go Deep Much of what we know about the ecology of marine fishes along California's coast comes from SCUBA diving in relatively shallow water (100 m water depth). We know less, however, about the zone that falls between standard SCUBA and ROV sampling. CSUMB's Institute for Applied Marine Ecology is now conducting weekly diver-held video transects (35-40 m water depth) at points in southern Carmel Bay to learn more about fishes in this understudied zone.
October 2016 Dr. Kerry Nickols participated in an NSF-funded program over the summer: the Antarctic Biology Training Program for Early Career Scientists. The goal of this program is to provide early career scientists with hands-on experience conducting work in Antarctica to help them develop their own independent research programs in polar science. Dr. Nickols conducted research during the austral winter aboard one of the US Antarctic Program's Icebreakers and at Palmer Station, located on the West Antarctic Peninsula.
September 2016 Five CSUMB undergraduate students (Alesha Corral, Lisa Fredenburg, Dylan Jones, Levi Matsushima, and Cynthia Okereafor) worked on laboratory research projects in summer 2016 under the mentorship of John Goeltz, an assistant professor of chemistry in the School of Natural Sciences. Alesha, Lisa, and Cynthia investigated new methods for measuring equilibria in water. Their work will enable more accurate knowledge of molecular behavior in real world environments and improved methodologies for teaching and learning about pH and acidity. Dylan and Levi investigated deep eutectic solvents, mixtures of salts that form room temperature ionic melts. Their work may find applications in energy conversion and storage, though some of the materials also appear to be excellent non-toxic rust removers. John and his students thank the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center and a Faculty Incentive Grant for funding.
Summer 2016 The CSUMB School of Natural Sciences is offering a new summer course - BIO 362: Field Ornithology (4 units). Students in the class master bird field identification while visiting a variety of regional habitats, including oak woodlands, wetlands, pine forests, coastal estuaries, and bays. This summer, students were treated to an up-close look at the raptors being used for pest abatement in the building demolition on campus, and also got to join biologists with the Ventana Wildlife Society as they tracked condors in Big Sur.
May 2016 Students in Dr. Jenny Duggan’s BIO 364: Mammology (4 units): Mammology class learn about the evolution and ecology of the diverse mammals found throughout the world. This semester, they conducted the first surveys of small mammals on newly established monitoring sites at the UC Fort Ord Natural Reserve. Students learned how to capture, handle, and identify local species of mice and kangaroo rats. The data they collected will be used to examine how small mammal communities change where grasslands are converted to shrub lands in California. If students in other classes visiting the reserve can implement the same methodology as efficiently as the students in Mammalogy, this new monitoring program will be expanded to include sites on other UC Nature Reserves.
April 2016 In ENVS 315: Soils and the Environment (4 units), taught by Meagan Hynes, students get to tour various local agricultural operations in the Salinas and Pajaro Valleys of California. This semester they assisted with research at The Company Ranch (TRC) for Driscoll’s strawberries with Stefanie Kortman (CSUMB). The class also visited a vineyard to learn about soil moisture sensing research with Kirk Post (CSUMB & NASA). Field trips focus on application of introductory soil science topics such as soil chemistry, physics, fertility, and microbiology. Students learn about how soil is the important link between agriculture and the environment.
March 2016 Students in Nikki Nedeff’s Spring 2016 BIO 342: Plant Communities of CA (4 units) class (California Plant Communities) walk through restored coastal dune habitat near Spanish Bay in Pebble Beach. Concepts related to disturbance ecology and habitat restoration are folded into lecture topics focused on the natural communities found throughout California. During field trips, students identify indicator plant species using plant identification techniques and dichotomous keys. So, can you tell the difference between an interior live oak, a canyon live oak and a coast live oak?
February 2016 CSUMB's Special Topics in Mycology (BIO 495: Special Topics (1-4 units)) course gets a field tour on mushroom identification with Phil Carpenter. This year has been an exceptional year for mushroom hunting and some students have taken advantage of this in their coursework. BIO 495: Special Topics (1-4 units) is taught by Timothy Miles and in this course, students are collecting and identifying mushrooms as part of their class project along with other microscopic fungi. Phil Carpenter was formerly the president of the Fungus Federation of Santa Cruz and can site identify several hundred species in the Monterey Bay area. More information about the Fungus Federation can by found here: http://ffsc.us/
December 2015 Students in Dr. Allison Gong’s Marine Invertebrate Zoology class spend class time learning about comparative anatomy and functional morphology in animal body plans. They accomplish the former by observing living specimens within the major animal taxa (Mollusca, Crustacea, Cnidaria, and Echinodermata) and the latter by dissecting animals to study how bodies are constructed. This work culminates in an excursion to the rocky intertidal, where the students play the role of investigative journalist: they put their observational skills to the test by “interviewing” animals to learn as much as they can, from the animals themselves, about how they make a living where they live.
November 2015 Students in Dr. Rob Burton’s Quantitative Field Methods course initiated a potentially long-term study of the distribution of Sandmat Manzanita and Coast Live Oak on the UC Fort Ord Reserve in order to better understand successional relationships of these two plant communities in a setting where natural disturbance regimes are suppressed. Students then quantified and analyzed apparent habitat preferences of reptiles within those vegetation types and evaluated the implications for species diversity in the face of changing plant community dynamics. Students also surveyed birds at a CDFW wildlife management area and compared diversity indices with those calculated by CSUMB students in previous semesters; providing insight into the efficacy of water level management for maximizing habitat complexity. In addition students assisted BLM with collecting and analyzing data from long-term grassland monitoring plots,they quantified forest stand structure, and applied quantitative field techniques for characterizing small mammal populations.
October 2015 UROC Researcher Skylar Kensinger is working with a new adjunct research faculty, Dr. Melissa Garren, to help The Nature Conservancy’s Hawai’i team test the effectiveness of recent watershed restoration efforts for improving water quality in the neighboring marine environment. In Prof. Arlene Haffa’s laboratory, they are examining samples taken from coral reefs around Pelakane Bay on Hawai’i Island to compare the data with matching samples taken before restoration efforts began in 2010. They are measuring the nutrient levels and quantify the microbial communities using fluorescent stains and epifluorescence microscopy. This work is supported by NOAA Habitat Blueprint.
September 2015 Jose Madrid has been working with new faculty member Alison Haupt on a project to examine population genetics structure of the white-tailed damselfish, Stegastes beebei, across the Galápagos archipelago. This fish exhibits differences in demographic parameters (growth,age of sexual maturity, reproduction period, size, etc) across the archipelago, and Jose is interested to find out if these demographic differences are due to underlying genetic variation. Over the summer Jose worked to figure out the best tissue type to use for DNA extractions and over the school year will be testing out different loci to look for genetic patterns.
August 2015 New Marine Science faculty member Dr. Kerry Nickols has been working with Dr. Kristy Kroeker and Dr. Mark Carr of University of California, Santa Cruz to understand the nearshore oceanographic and biogeochemical environment around the Monterey Peninsula. In conjunction with this project,UROC Scholar Serena Thurston is studying the zooplankton communities in this region, comparing community composition and invertebrate larval abundances at sites along an oceanographic gradient.
May-June 2015 Plant Pathology Laboratory students are studying host resistance to fruit rot diseases in a wide range of commercially grown cultivars. The goal of this research is to identify the spectrum of resistance to common diseases in strawberry fruits such as Gray mold and Rhizopus rot which annually cause significant losses both in the field and in storage. Fruits are harvested and then incubated in humidity chambers and assessed daily for the presence of pathogens. This preliminary research will hopefully allow the laboratory to study some interesting aspects of resistance such as determining the biochemical and molecular factors that contribute to the basis of resistance.
April 2015 ESTP and ENSTU students in John Silveus’ BIO 230: Environmental Biology (4 units) class learn ecological sampling techniques in the rocky intertidal of Carmel Point in conjunction with the local chapter of the LiMPETS program. Students use the experience as background for a project involving mining data from a long term data set of species diversity in the rocky intertidal along the California coast. Students form hypotheses regarding environmental factors and interspecies interactions, graph and analyze the data, and prepare a report of their findings.
February 2015 In the upper division service learning course BIO 378S: Health Sciences Service Learning (5 units) taught by Henrik Kibak, CSUMB pre-meds conduct a 10-week community health needs assessment for Natividad Hospital. This anonymous and comprehensive six-page survey, conducted in English or Spanish, provides important data on the healthcare needs and barriers to health in the Alisal Neighborhood, one of 14 State of California identified medically underserved communities.
December 2014 Dr. Suzy Worcester and AMWS student, John Inman, have been helping Bruce Delgado at the Fort Ord National Monument assess the effects of goat foraging on biodiversity in the extensive grasslands at the Monument. They are examining whether coyote brush encroachment into grasslands is reduced by goat browsing. A class of “BIO 211: Ecology, Evolution, Biodiversity and Plants (4 units) Ecology, Evolution, Biodiversity and Plants” students observed the goats while learning about strategies for conserving biodiversity.
November 2014 Students in Dr. Natalie Zayas' Introduction to Environmental Science class study sand crab population density working in conjunction with LiMPETS. Students get into the field during the second week of class to apply what they have learned about how science works, reinforce ecology concepts such as indicator species and bioaccumulation they have studied in class, graph the data they gather, and apply critical thinking skills by analyzing the data.
October 2014 Andrea Valdez, a senior Biology major, is on a microbe mission. Valdez, in conjunction with Gretchen Hofmann’s lab at UC Santa Barbara, is studying a wasting disease contributing to the recent demise of sea stars, a keystone species in the near shore environment. Valdez is using molecular techniques to determine the diversity of bacterial organisms found on sea stars with wasting disease, and comparing them to bacterial populations on healthy sea stars. The work, which comprises much of the NSF-GRFP application that Valdez is writing this Fall, will contribute to a greater understanding of this complex disease. Valdez began the study in Hofmann’s lab last summer, and continues it this Fall in Aparna Sreenivasan’s lab. She is funded in part by LSAMP and UROC and hopes to present this project at various regional and national conferences this year.
September 2014 Dr. Daniel Fernandez is working with several students on an NSF grant and collaborating with researchers at UCSC, USGS, MLML, UC Davis, Humboldt State, SF State, and elsewhere to measure the volume of fog water collected at a number of stations throughout coastal Northern CA, and to measure mercury compounds within the fog water at each of 7 stations within this network. In addition to better understanding the cycling of fog water through the ecosystem, they are also looking at changes in fog patterns associated with climate change.
July 2014 IfAME Launches Stereo-Video Transects Coast-wide The faculty, staff, and students of the Institute for Applied Marine Ecology (IfAME) are this summer initiating coast-wide collection of stereo-video imagery using SCUBA. Imagery will be collected by SCUBA divers to study the habitat-utilization and distribution of fishes and selected invertebrates inside and out of the State’s MPA network. Trained research divers will conduct transects using dual HD video cameras. The stereo video allows for precise quantification of fish lengths. Stay tuned for more!
June 2014 Students in 'Introduction to Environmental Science' (ENVS 201: Intro to Environmental Science (4 units)) put their knowledge of scientific method, ecology, and water quality in order to design and conduct water quality studies in the Monterey area on local ponds, outfalls, and the ocean. They gather data, analyze the data, and present their findings to their classmates in a their semester final project. The majority of ENVS 201: Intro to Environmental Science (4 units) students are non-science majors. With this project, they learn what it is to be a scientist.
May 2014 AMWS student Alex Snyder is leading an effort to map the outcomes of a beach nourishment project by the City of Monterey. The mapping is done using mobile topographic laser scanner (LiDAR) mounted on a beach cart, yielding a precise 3D image of the beach and dunes. The project is led by Dr. Doug Smith of the Watershed Geology lab and Dr. Rikk Kvitek of the Seafloor Mapping Lab.
April 2014 For her capstone project,Environmental Studies major Alyssa Nally works with the local Monterey Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation implementing their Rise Above Plastics Program. She took a leading role developing a presentation for elementary school students teaching them about negative impacts of plastic pollution on marine ecosystems, locally and globally, and the importance reducing plastic consumption. To date she has presented to 370 students from 14 classes in Marina and King City and hopes those children will spread the word to their parents, family members, friend and community.
March 2014 Ever wondered where the rarest cypress tree in the world grows??? Students in BIO 342: Plant Communities of CA (4 units), Plant Communities of California, hike into a grove of pygmy Gowen cypress trees (Hesperocyparis goveniana) during one of their many landscape ecology field trips through the natural lab around CSUMB. This endemic cypress occurs naturally in only two small groves inland from Carmel Bay, where the pygmy trees can be more than two-hundred years old and only 5-feet tall. BIO 342: Plant Communities of CA (4 units) students practice plant identification skills and keying out interesting Maritime Chaparral species associated with Gowen cypress in the shallow, acidic and nutrient-poor soils typical of the ancient granitic marine terraces found on the Monterey Peninsula.
February 2014 AWMS/CWSP graduate Daniel Orr and Marine Science undergraduate Patrick Sabordo conducting intertidal habitat and wave force surveys at the Bamfield Marine Science Centre in British Columbia, Canada. As part of a project funded by the National Science Foundation, Dr. Corey Garza and students in the Marine Landscape Ecology Lab are studying how the three dimensional structure of marine communities imparts resistance to physical disturbances such as storm surge. Their research is being used by ecologists and resource agencies to forecast how the structure of marine systems, such as intertidal and kelp forest communities, may affect their resistance to disturbances arising from predicted increases in coastal storm surge as a result of climate change.
December 2013 AWMS/CWSP masters student Gwen Miller works with recent ESTP graduate David Hamblin to weigh and record broccoli harvested as part of irrigation trials conducted in Salinas by CSUMB in collaboration with Tanimura and Antle, the UC Cooperative Extension, USDA, and the NASA SIMS project. Results from the trials conducted over the past two years indicate that scheduling irrigation to match crop evapotranspiration can reduce total applied water by more than 30% relative to standard practice without reducing yields. Initial results also suggest that efficient irrigation practices may have the additional benefit of reducing leaching of nitrate below the root zone.
November 2013 Instructor John Skardon presented a new project-based clean energy curriculum at the IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference in Oklahoma City in October. The curriculum explores a wide-array of clean energy technologies including adsorption reactors, biomass energy pellets, microbial fuel cells, and geothermal heat exchangers. This work relates to John's consulting for the Southern Regional Education Board of Atlanta and the development of a new CSUMB course in energy and the environment.
October 2013 Last spring, undergraduates Josh Ambrose and James McClure, working in the Ecosystem Electronics Lab, custom-designed an ROV to explore coral reefs 150 meters (500 feet) deep. In the summer they took their invention to Ulithi, a remote Micronesian atoll with a unique island culture, and used their ROV to help the villagers and a team of ecologists learn more about Ulithi’s deep reefs. Josh and James are now back home analyzing mind-blowing footage of rare corals, sharks, and WWII shipwrecks.
August-September 2013 Undergraduate students Alex Blackwell (ESTP, ’13) and Patrick Carilli (Marine Science, ‘15) worked with Assistant Professor Cheryl Logan in the CSUMB Marine Environmental Physiology lab to deploy “robomussel” temperature loggers in the intertidal at Hopkins Marine Station. Loggers measured the internal body temperature of mussels mimics (mussel shells filled with silicone) for several weeks. The deployment was part of Blackwell’s Honors Senior Capstone project which investigated fine scale differences in cardiac physiology of mussels living in different microhabitats only a few meters apart. The project was funded by CSUPERB and COAST awards to Dr. Logan and a COAST student research award to Blackwell.
July-August 2013 In 2013, the final permits were in place for removal of the sediment-filled San Clemente Dam on the Carmel River. Every large dam removal project poses a large scale environmental experiment. This dam removal is especially worthy of study because it is a new technique designed to keep all the trapped sediment in place. Graduate student Sheldon Lieker and undergraduate August Delforge (UROC intern) are leading the charge to quantify unintended environmental consequences, as a way to guide future dam removal projects.
June 2013 CSUMB students are involved in monitoring greenhouse gas emissions in agricultural fields and assessing whether different methods of irrigation and fertilization can lessen the contribution agriculture makes to global warming. Gas is collected in field chambers and then analyzed in the Los Huertos lab at CSUMB using a gas chromatograph. Each sample is analyzed for three different greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane. Finally, statistical methods are used to determine if field practices, such as the use of sprinkler irrigation versus drip irrigation, can make a difference in greenhouse gas production. This information is shared with growers, conservation agencies, and other researchers so that more is learned about how we can influence the environment positively by the way we grow our food.
May 2013 Allison Moreno (Marine Science BS 2014, Minor in Mathematics) is working with Dr. Arlene Haffa on a study of the impact of the global marine harvest on the ocean iron cycle. They have obtained the dataset from the United Nations Fisheries and Aquaculture Organization, which contains 1650 marine organisms. Using elemental iron composition data from the literature they have arrived at high and low end estimates that suggest that 0.5-2% of bioavailable iron is removed on an annual basis. They have now begun working with Dr. Judith Canner to generate time series data for dissolved iron concentrations in the ocean over time. Allison has taken her data to the American Geophysical Union Meeting in San Francisco, December 2012 and recently won the best undergraduate student poster award at the NOAA-sponsored Sanctuary Currents 2013 Symposium.
April 2013 Return of the Natives Restoration Education Project (RON) headed by Watershed Institute Co-Director, Laura Lee Lienk planted a forest of California Live Oaks at Marina's Locke Padden Park this past February. RON's restoration assistants comprised of CSUMB undergrads led the planting of the fifty 15-gallon trees which comprised the new forest. Science Service Learning students, CSUMB's Otter Christian Fellowship, Marina High and Salinas' El Sausal Middle students, local families and other volunteers were shocked at how quickly the restoration occurred when everyone pitched in.
March 2013 Undergraduate students James McClure, Josh Ambrose, and Shelby Peters worked with Professor Steve Moore in the Ecosystem Electronics Lab (EEL) to design, build, and test six custom Remotely Operated Vehicles for educational outreach. The project was funded by the National Science Foundation through the Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations (C-DEBI). The small, battery-powered ROVs can be operated safely from a dock or kayak. (That’s James and Josh testing one from a kayak off Catalina Island in the photo.) These ROVs are only a few months old, but they have already recorded high-definition undersea video of hundreds of fascinating marine species including sharks, octopuses, electric rays, and harbor seals. Three of the vehicles will live permanently at the Wrigley Marine Science Center on Catalina Island in southern California. Three more will reside in Monterey. EEL students are now working on the design of a low-cost ROV for deeper dives (>100 m) to support student and faculty marine biology research projects.
February 2013 Students in Dr. Suzy Worcester’s ENVS 350: Quantitative Field Methods (4 units) Quantitative Field Methods class are not only learning field and analysis techniques, they are asking relevant questions about climate change. A sea anemone species from Southern California has moved north to the Central Coast and a Northern California anemone seems to be declining as ocean temperatures warm. Here, Shelby Rogers and Daniel Atkins, are quantifying the abundance of both anemone species in Pacific Grove. From their data the students are able to detect future changes in anemone populations as climate change continues.
December 2012-January 2013 Students at the Molera Road Treatment Wetland are researching how wetlands and bioreactors can remove pollutants from agricultural runoff. The original constructed wetland on the site was designed and installed in 2006 by a collaboration between the Central Coast Wetlands Group at Moss Landing Marine Labs and Dr Fred Watson at CSUMB. Graduate student Gwen Miller (top image) is sampling nitrate levels at the inlet and outlet of the main wetland - assisted by Shaelyn Hession. Undergraduates Janea Elliott and Jon Finch (bottom image) won the battle against flooding in December to install and test the first major prototype of a more-engineered farm-friendly 'bioreactor' system on the site (left image). They used data from the system to calibrate a computer model of pollutant removal, as capstone students in the ENVS 440: Environmental Modeling (4 units) Environmental Modeling class.
November 2012 Dan Shapiro's capstone students work on social justice and sustainability issues within the great community of Monterey County. Environmental Studies graduate, Angélica González (top, center; middle) worked with the Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas (CHAMACOS). She designed, created, and field-tested a model of an agricultural field and associated lesson plan for farmworker families to help them understand how pesticides can be inadvertently tracked into the home and how simple things like washing hands and removing work clothes before entering the home can reduce exposure. Angélica is currently the Environmental Science Workshop Coordinator for the City of Watsonville where she is continuing to use her model in addition to her other duties. Environmental Science student Chelsea Howe (bottom, right) did her service-learnig with Everyone's Harvest and is currently doing a project with the Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA)surveying past graduates of their organic small-scale farmer training program who are currently farming in the local area to determine best-practices for obtaining land following graduation.
October 2012 Last Fall CSUMB students in Biology 361, Eukaryotic Molecular Biology, used cutting edge genomics technology to annotate genes in chromosomes of various fruit fly species in conjunction with the Genomics Education Partnership (GEP), a Howard Hughes Funded project and collaboration with the Biology Department and Genome Center of Washington University in St. Louis. Six students’ work from BIO 361 is now part of a peer-reviewed publication in preparation through the GEP, CSUMB, and other partner institutions. Biology 361, taught by Dr. Aparna Sreenivasan is an example of how CSUMB Biology incorporates cutting edge research projects in the classroom, which enhance student learning, and actively contributes valuable skill sets to students, priming them for graduate research and industry jobs.
September 2012 Emily Aiken (Marine Science BS 2013) is working with the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and the Monterey Harbor District on a study of the invasive bryozoan, Watersipora. Emily is using SCUBA to study differential rates of predation on the bryozoan across a spectrum of habitats ranging from pier pilings, to low-relief rocky reefs, to open sand flats. Her results should offer critical insight into natural controls on the spread of marine invasive species.
August 2012 Marine Science undergraduate student Mitchell Takata and CWSP graduate students Sean Windell and Mary McCormick conducting intertidal and subtidal surveys of foraging habitat for Pacific Spiny Lobster and California Sheephead at the USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies on Santa Catalina Island. As part of a project funded by USC Sea Grant, Dr. Corey Garza and students in the Marine Landscape Ecology Lab are investigating the value of incorporating intertidal habitat into the design of marine reserves for these two ecologically and economically important marine species. The results of this work will help inform ecosystem based management strategies focused on sustaining populations of both species.
July 2012 Moss Landing Harbor and Elkhorn Slough have become genetic melting pots for two closely related mussel species. One is an invader from the Mediterranean that seems to be more tolerant of warmer temperatures and the other is native, possibly more tolerant of fresh water. Collecting and analyzing DNA from the invader, native, and hybrids, will help us understand which genes are facilitating this invasion. Here working under faculty member Henrik Kibak, students Mark Callaghan and Annette Verga-Lagier collect mussels along a transect near a fresh water source in the slough.
June 2012 Faculty memberCorey Garza (left) and CWSP PSM student Corina Marks (right) use GPS to safely navigate the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve during SNS's inaugural Boating Class this May. Graduates of this certification course to be offered each semester will be able to check out and use any of the three new inflatable boats and trailers recently purchased for research and teaching through UROC’s STEM Articulation Grant. This 3 day course meets all DOI MOCC and SBSA requirements, qualifying the participants to operate small boats at many state and federal resource agencies and universities.
May 2012 Division Chair Dan Fernandez and several capstone students have been involved in research to collect water from fog since 2005. Dr Fernandez has six “standard fog collectors” deployed in the Monterey region. These simple instruments coalesce tiny droplets of fog and can be used to measure the amount of water from fog and the chemicals contained within it. Dr Fernandez is currently working with researchers at NASA and UC Santa Cruz to characterize long-term temporal and spatial variability of the fog, to look at the role fog plays in the survival (and extinction) of various species, and to examine the chemical content of fog water.
April 2012 CWSP student, Ty Brandt, was selected to participate in the NASA DEVELOP internship program, a NASA Applied Sciences national training and development opportunity. In collaboration with scientists based at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Ty analyzed data from NASA’s GRACE satellites to measure changes in total water storage in the Central Valley of California. The team concluded that the Central Valley lost approximately 15.35 ± 7.66 km3 of groundwater over a six year period. Ty presented this research at the AGU Chapman Conference on Remote Sensing of Terrestrial Water in Kona, Hawaii in February 2012.
March 2012 Did you ever wonder why native populations of Monterey pine (Pinus radiata) are found in only five small and geographically restricted populations, yet genetically selected radiata pines are the most commonly planted timber trees in the world? Or why the even more narrowly distributed native groves of Gowen cypress and Monterey cypress fringe the rocky coast of Carmel Bay… and grow naturally nowhere else in the world? Nikki Nedeff’s California Ecosystems class (BIO 342: Plant Communities of CA (4 units)) explores these complicated questions and pulls together botany, geology, ecology and a basic understanding of landscape processes to explore the why’s and where’s of California’s amazingly diverse natural communities – from the foggy edge of the continent to the arid interior deserts. Students concentrate on indicator species and field observation, and learn the basic techniques of plant identification using dichotomous keys… what’s the difference between glabrous and glandular again? How many ways can you say “hairy” using botanical terms? For more information, see the recent book on the Monterey Pine Forest (available at local nature outlets), co-authored by Nikki.
February 2012 Shelley Petruccelli, first-year CWSP Masters Degree student, is operating the data-collection unit for a mobile, terrestrial LiDAR system. Dr. Rikk Kvitek mounted the system on an all-terrain-vehicle to help quantify terrestrial erosion rates. Dr. Doug Smith will work with both graduate and undergraduate students to create three-dimensional maps of erosional features and landslides at the Hollister Hills off-highway vehicle park near campus. Student researchers on this project include Carrie Williams, Colin Nicol, Kathy Nitayangkul, and Sarah Moreland. This long-term monitoring project will help California State Parks develop policies aimed at sustainable off-road vehicle use.
December 2011 Student Matthew Tran has begun a project to clone, express, and characterize genes found by data mining the genome of an ocean microbe. The first genes to be studied are proteases that appear to be homologues of vertebral trypsin and chymotrypsin, A better understanding of these novel proteases will help to describe biogeochemical nutrient cycling, but may also have biotechnology applications. He is working with new faculty member Dr. Arlene Haffa whose research interests include protein structure and function, microbial evolution, and human-microbe interactions. Past students Jason Busse and W. Kent Kovac have helped to develop software tools that extract and display gaps in whole genome alignments, providing details on mechanisms of evolution. These tools also shaped the data mining efforts. Dr. Haffa is currently teaching Ethics, Science, and Environmental Policy (ENVS212) and Bioethics (BIO300) and will also be teaching microbiology (BIO 320: Microbiology (4 units)) and helping to teach service learning geared toward health professionals in the spring.
November 2011 SNS welcomes new faculty member, marine physiologist Dr. Cheryl Logan. Dr. Logan's research interests include ecological and evolutionary physiology (particularly the effects of climate change on marine fishes and inverts), ecological forecasting, and climate change policy. Dr. Logan will teach BIO242/L in Spring 2011 and a new Animal Physiology course next Fall (2012).This November, Dr. Logan is collaborating with scientists at NOAA, Princeton University, and the University of British Columbia to provide NOAA Coral Reef Watch an updated method for detecting coral bleaching events based on global SST satellite measurements. Dr. Logan looks forward to working with CSUMB students this Spring as she ramps up her new lab.
October 2011 Natalie Jacuzzi, graduate student with Dr. Marc Los Huertos in the Coastal and Watershed Science & Policy program, is joined by faculty by students to help conduct percolation tests near the Carmel Lagoon. This collaborative project with private consultants and UC Santa Cruz faculty has been designed to accurately estimate the sustained percolation rate. The long-term goal of this project is to use to increase the habitat value for Steelhead in the Carmel River and Lagoon.
September 2011 Students taking non-major science courses from Myriam Kodl acquire a wide variety of fieldwork experiences. They conduct hands-on field work at Point Lobos learning about geology; they collect population monitoring data at local beaches; and they actively learn about sustainability and integrated waste management from the Monterey Regional Waste Management District.
July 2011 The unique maritime chaparral ecosystem on Ft. Ord is home to a number of endemic plant and animal species. Beginning in 2004, Lars Pierce and several students have worked with the Ft. Ord Reuse Authority, US Army, BLM, US Fish & Wildlife Service, and CA Dept. of Fish & Game to study the effects of fire on maritime chaparral. With the help of local fire departments, we burned a 150-acre parcel of Ft. Ord maritime chaparral in 2005. Since then, we have been monitoring annual changes in plant cover and density on this parcel. We have found that in areas where the maritime chaparral must be mechanically-cleared to remove unexploded ordnance, prescribed fire can help to restore the cover of those special-status plant species which can only reproduce from seed following fire.
June 2011 Students in Laura Lee Lienk's "Community Based Watershed Service Learning Course" ENVS 369s can be found working with community partners throughout the area restoring habitats, communities, and connections between people. In this class, restoration success is measured in units of "youth engaged in hands-on science", "sections of local parks adopted by school classes", as well as, native plants planted on degraded landscapes, or birds returning to newly created wetlands. Class partners include: Watsonville Wetlands Watch, Save the Whales and Return of the Natives.
May 2011 Students in Natalie Zayas' Introduction to Environmental Science (ENVS 201: Intro to Environmental Science (4 units)) course are non-science majors who get out in the field and often experience for the first time doing science. Water quality projects are a large part of the course. Students design their own projects and select their locations for sampling. In order to help them learn how to sample in the field, they visited vernal pools on Fort Ord. Not only did they get to experience field sampling they also learned about the ecology of vernal pools. A new experience for most of these students.
April 2011 Last semester, students in Dr. Steve Moore’s Electronics/Robotics class (PHYS 330: Robotics for Ecological Research (4 units)) outfitted a surfboard with pontoons, propellers, navigational sensors, depth sensors, cameras, and a pair of microcontroller brains. This semester the students have programmed their custom “SurfBot” robot to head out to sea on its own, measure the depth of an offshore submarine canyon, and return safely to the beach. It’s all just a fun excuse to learn valuable electronics and programming skills that will give these students a technology edge and help them get into top graduate schools and to find rewarding jobs upon graduation.
March 2011 Through CSUMB's Cooperative Agreement with NASA Ames Research Center, graduate students in the Coastal and Watershed Science & Policy M.S. program are developing new techniques for estimating crop irrigation requirements using satellite data. Under the leadership of Forrest Melton and Lars Pierce (Adjunct Faculty), the research team is combining satellite data, observations from agricultural weather stations, wireless sensor networks, and soil water balance modeling to map crop irrigation demand for vegetable row crops, orchards, and vineyards. In these photos CWSP graduate students Roger Arenas, AJ Purdy, Carolyn Rosevelt, and recent CWSP graduate Randy Holloway, are installing wireless sensor networks in agricultural fields in the Salinas and San Joaquin Valleys for use in evaluation of the satellite-derived estimates of crop irrigation demand. Through this project, the researchers are developing an automated system for mapping crop canopy conditions and estimating crop irrigation demand at the scale of individual fields. The goal of the project is to assist California farmers in maximizing the benefit of the water they have available, by providing a new source of information for use in making irrigation scheduling decisions. The system is designed to be adapted to other locations around the state and beyond.
February 2011 Students in ENVS 349S “Interpreting Monterey Bay Natural History for the Community” service learning course learn about natural history interpretation techniques from professionals in the field. Students learned about a new hiking trail being created at Palo Corona Regional Park from Jackie Nelson and Tim Jensen of the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District (MPRPD). The students' task was to create an interpretive walk for the new Vista Lobos trail. At a view point, students reflected on the beauty of the area to think about how to interpret this location to other hikers. Students in ENVS 349S also work with biology students at Seaside High School to create interpretive products for the community. For example, teams of CSUMB and Seaside High School students worked with Jackie Nelson at the MPRPD to create a poster for the Marina Dunes Preserve and to create a Facebook page for the district. Here the Marina Dunes Preserve team is seen at their project presentation at Seaside High School.
January 2011 CWSP masters student Jeremy Kerr was selected as a winner from a pool of global participants in Digital Globe's "8-band Research Challenge". Jeremy investigated the use of Worldview-02's 8-spectral bands to optically-derive bathymetry in coral reefs. His work expanded on a previously developed optical derivation model and demonstrated that the increased spectral information provided by this new satellite combined with the expanded model resulted in more precise depth estimates. Jeremy will use this new method in his work to map remote coral reef systems as a member of the Living Oceans Foundation’s Global Reef Expedition.
December 2010 Last year, students in the CyanoHabLab began using molecular methods to tackle a problem in the Monterey Bay Area – the presence of potential toxin producing cyanobacteria in local lakes. While greenish freshwater is prevalent in our region, not a lot is known about the composition of the organisms that make that water green, and whether these organisms have the capability to generate toxins such as microcystin. Biology and CWSP students Jena Cleveland and Erin Stanfield designed oligonucleotide primers to amplify parts of the microcystin gene cluster using the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). Stanfield has worked for more than one year in Pinto Lake, in Watsonville California, collecting surface water samples for chemical and biological analysis. Kevin Johnson, a Biology undergraduate assists her with cell counting and PCR, and is conducting a parallel study at Loch Lomond Lake in Santa Cruz. Erin's work will help inform water management agencies around the Monterey Bay Area, and garner new information about how these surprisingly complex organisms sense their environment and produce toxins. She has identified the presence of the microcystin gene cluster before, during, and after bloom events and traced intracellular toxin concentrations in some of the samples. The data indicate that presence of toxin doesn’t always mean that the organisms that produced it are still around, and vice versa. So, green water isn’t always toxic, but you still might not want to play in it.
November 2010 Students in the ENVS 436/536 Remote Sensing and Image Processing class used Landsat imagery to estimate increases in woody plant cover on Fort Ord BLM Lands since Army base closure. The estimates were calibrated using field-based survey of vegetation cover using laser vegetation samplers.
October 2010 A contingent of students and faculty presented at the SACNAS National Conference in Anaheim in early October 2010. Maren Mitch won best poster in Marine Biology; other students presenting and attending included Alin Gonzalez, Anthony Basilio, Elizabeth Lopez, Isael Rubio, Krystal Schneider, Mark Callaghan, Michael Diaz, Sara Kelly, Sarah Moreland, Lydia Jennings, and Clover Lee.
September 2010 A contingent of students and faculty gave presentations at the California and the World Ocean 2010 conference in San Francisco in early September 2010. Topics addressed included "Estimating Protozoal Removal in Wetland Systems Using a Multi-Scale Model-Based Approach", "Recovery in Seafloor Communities Impacted by Trawling in Central California", and "Monitoring Beach Litter Type and Abundance In The Monterey Bay".
May 2010 In 2009, CSUMB became an organizational member of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences and is currently teaching the first Scientific Diver Training class this semester. The course teaches a number of underwater research skills such as transecting, quadrat surveys, fish and invertebrate identification, photography, and night diving. Divers must also learn the fine art of taking notes underwater while doing these tasks! These divers will be able to conduct and assist in the growing number of SCUBA-based thesis, capstone, and professional research projects at CSUMB and are also eligible to dive with other AAUS research institutions. Check out the Science Diving website for more information.
April 2010 Sometime less than 100 years ago, an unnoticed cryptic marine mussel invasion began, probably in San Diego Bay. Currently, all southern California bay mussels are the Mediterranean invader, Mytilus galloprovincialis. North of Cape Mendocino, the mussels appear to still be the native Mytilus trossulus but along the central coast there is a mixed zone, including hybrid mussels. Under the supervision of Dr Henrik Kibak, ESTP major Maren Mitch is purifying DNA from mussels collected around Monterey Bay, amplifying specific gene regions and running gel electrophoresis to make the identifications. This information will allow Maren to choose the best enzymes for successfully discriminating between the species for multiple mitochondrial and nuclear genes and will hopefully allow for processing of up to fifty samples per day. Since both mussels are within the Mytilus taxa, further analysis of their genetic sequences should also provide insight into what makes the Mediterranean mussel such a successful invader over its sibling species.
March 2010 Shae Mitchell of the Marine Landscape Ecology Lab is studying owl limpets (Lottia gigantea) for her Master’s thesis (advised by Susan Alexander & Corey Garza). Owl limpets are ecologically important grazers that live on exposed rocky intertidal coasts and can be impacted by human use. This study investigates size, structure, and abundance patterns of L. gigantea at locations with different levels of vulnerability to human use along the central coast of California. Shae and other Marine Landscape Ecology Lab members conduct limpet surveys at six different locations in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, where L. gigantea are tagged, counted, and measured. Photos, distance from Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW), and visitor surveys are also collected. These data will be used to estimate potential human-mediated reductions in owl limpet population size.
February 2010 Brian Spear earned the prestigious 2010 Elkhorn Slough Conservation Research Award for his research report, “Twenty-Nine Years of Geomorphic Change at Elkhorn Slough, California.” During 2009, Brian precisely re-shot survey points that were originally shot 29 years prior. The geomorphic change revealed by this work gives resource managers at the Elkhorn Slough National Research Reserve a better understanding of long-term salt marsh dynamics, and how the marsh plain might respond to anticipated sea level rise. Brian recently presented this work to science students and faculty as partial fulfillment of the CWSP Masters of Science degree.
December 2009 In September 2009 CSUMB Seafloor Mapping Lab (SFML) students and staff joined world renown cave explorer, Tom Iliffe of Texas A&M University, and colleagues from the Bermuda Zoological Society to use SFML’s high resolution multibeam sonar and remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to thoroughly explore and characterize the upper edge of the Bermuda pedestal and adjacent mid-ocean seamount. Our goals were to confirm the existence of deep water (~60-200 m depths) caves, and document wave cut notches, drown reefs, terraces and other features formed during Ice Age low sea stands of the Pleistocene epoch (roughly defined as the time period between 1.8 million to around 10,000 years ago). Sponsored by NOAA’s Ocean Exploration Program, videos from and a profile of this project can be found at the NOAA OE project website.
November 2009 Maintaining high water quality in the central coast region requires collaboration between water purveyors, regulators, and researchers. Erin Stanfield (left) has developed a Master's Thesis research project with Professor Marc Los Huertos that has implemented this type of collaboration. Using an underwater photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) quantum light sensor, Erin studies freshwater cyanobacteria harmful algal blooms (CHABs) in the California central coast. She is working with a multidisciplinary research group at CSUMB (CyanoHAB Lab) and in collaboration with the Cities of Watsonville and Santa Cruz to study the environmental factors associated with cyanobacteria in Loch Lomond drinking water reservoir (Lompico, CA) and Pinto Lake recreational area (Watsonville, CA). Studies using the PAR sensor will contribute to prevention, prediction, reduction and mediation plans for addressing CHABs.
October 2009 What do these students have in common? Since they’re students at CSUMB, they are probably working towards achieving one or more learning outcomes. Have you ever wondered “to what extent are the learning activities described in my class syllabi aligned to help me achieve the course learning outcomes”, or, “I wonder what percentage of CSUMB students actually achieve the stated learning outcomes in ULR or major courses?”, or, “CSUMB seems different from other universities, I wonder if the alumni found these aspects of CSUMB’s educational model valuable” ? As part of CSUMB’s work towards reaccreditation, faculty member Dr. Swarup Wood has worked with colleagues across campus to develop and support research to address exactly these kinds of questions. The research will help us understand how well CSUMB is serving students and producing the kind of student learning that will help our graduates to be successful 21st century citizens and successful in their chosen careers. Most of you know that the faculty at CSUMB to be incredibly devoted to student learning and student success. The results of this research are likely to help us be even more effective in our work with students.
September 2009 CWSP graduate student and Seafloor Mapping Lab (SFML) Hydrographic Technician, Todd Hallenbeck recently received a scholarship from the Marine Technology Society to pursue his Masters thesis work. The research investigates the spatial distribution of demersal fish communities in subtidal soft sediment habitats, and the implications for the design and evaluation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Utilizing high-resolution seafloor maps to identify sediment patches, a newly acquired Remotely Operated Vehicle (courtesy of CCRAA) to collect fish observation data, and multivariate geospatial statistics, Todd is using innovative approaches to help inform policies about how best to manage marine resources. In September, Todd and a research team from CSUMB and SFML will be traveling to Bermuda with the ROV to investigate the biota of deep-water caves in collaboration with the University of Texas A&M, Galveston.
August 2009 The California Transect class is back from its 12th annual trip studying Californian landscapes and environmental issues along a 1000-mile, 15-day route. Many photographs on the class web site illustrate the dramatic scenery, exciting natural history, science topics, and general group activities.
July 2009 ESTP graduate Kelly Burwell received CSUMB’s Service Learning Institute’s Service Learning Major Award for her long-term and extensive work with the Chinatown Community Garden and her capstone project, “Community Food Security: An Assessment of the Chinatown Neighborhood in Salinas, California,” that compared the accessibility of healthy, sustainably produced food among local, economically diverse communities. Kelly Burwell and other students working at the Chinatown Community Garden, which provides low-income community members with skills and land for growing their own organic food, learn about challenges and opportunities for integrating environmental sustainability and social equity goals in the real world.
June 2009 The first-ever Erik Edmonds Award for an Outstanding Capstone was presented to two undergraduates for their outstanding integration of science and policy in their Honors Capstone Theses. Alon Keller received the award for his project "Transportation fuel taxes in the United States". Nicholas Donlou received the award for his project "Site fidelity and movements of blue rockfish (Sebastes mystinus) in Carmel Bay: implications for the efficacy of marine protected areas". This award is made possible by a generous donation to the Institute for Applied Marine Ecology (IfAME) by alumnus Erik Edmonds, who wanted to honor students making strong links between science and policy in their undergraduate research.
May 2009 Students in Quantitative Field Methods (ENVS 350: Quantitative Field Methods (4 units)) learn how to collect and statistically analyze ecological data by working on applied projects. In April, the class worked with Bruce Delgado of the BLM Fort Ord Projects Office. On Fort Ord, sheep are brought in to seasonally graze the grasslands to increase the diversity and abundance of native plant life. CSUMB students having been collecting data on how effective sheep grazing has been at meeting these management goals for the past 5 years. Besides getting to spend time outside in the fields of lupines, students learn valuable quantitative skills and gain a connection with their local public lands and land managers.
April 2009 Faculty researchers have a long track record of including students as active partners in their research – taking students into the field and giving them direct access to the tools of research. New to this equation is the recently formed Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center (UROC), lead by Dr William Head. The center works to support faculty-student collaboration through training, research, and professional development. Participating students come away from the UROC experience with a deeper appreciation of the research process, a thorough understanding of their curriculum content, and a clearer pathway to graduate school and post-college job opportunities. Students are given the opportunity to apply classroom knowledge in the field, with the guidance of a faculty mentor. They contribute to large research projects and develop research questions of their own, which they then connect to the broader community through professional conferences and research publications. The UROC office is on the second floor of the Tanimura & Antle Family Memorial Library.
March 2009 In 2008, three faculty members formed the Cyanobacterial Harmful Algal Blooms (CyanoHAB) research cluster. Drs. Henrik Kibak, Marc Los Huertos, and Aparna Sreenivasan are utilizing biochemical, molecular genetic and ecological techniques to answer research questions regarding cyanobacteria toxicity in the Monterey Bay region. The research lab (which currently has three undergraduates and one graduate student) is linked, in part, to courses that will be offered in Fall 2009: Environmental Biotechnology (BIO 444L) and Environmental Monitoring (ENVS 355: Environmental Monitoring (4 units)). In Biology 444L, students will learn how to collect and test environmental samples using traditional molecular biology techniques. The interdisciplinary research cluster encourages both ESTP and BIO students to enroll in BIO 444L. In ENVS 355: Environmental Monitoring (4 units), students will learn to compare sampling methods, map Cyanobacteria populations, and evaluate potential causes of bloom formation. The CyanoHAB lab is particularly interested in gauging the number and scale of cyanobacterial species that contain toxin genes in local rivers and streams. Recently, members of Los Huertos’ lab, through sample collection and microscopic analysis, found high numbers of potentially toxin-producing cyanobacteria in local waters. But exactly whether these cyanobacteria have the ability to produce toxins (i.e. contain toxin genes OR actually generate toxins) is unclear at this time. To answer these questions, one of the CyanoHAB lab’s research projects is to generate simple molecular tools to identify organisms in environmental samples that contain particular toxin genes. The goal is to generate an effective and efficient method so that students can perform the experiments. It is the hope that these data can be used to assist local water purveyors and agencies in decision-making processes.
February 2009 In 2008 and 2009 CSUMB has offered, to the university and the Monterey Bay community, "Focus the Nation". This full-day event addresses issues associated with global warming and what can be done about them. It features a series of speakers at the University Center Ballroom, free food, and various student exhibits. In 2008, students (many through the Environmental Committee and the Environmental Science, Technology, and Policy (ESTP) program) volunteered their time and set up a "Green Dorm Room" in the Living Room of the University Center. Students are also the largest group of attendees, with over 350 attending the 2008 event. This year students are again playing a large role in the organization and execution of Focus the Nation. Several students from the College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences will be performing music and reading poetry as well. Twenty-seven different presenters will present on topics relating to global climate change, including 8 local mayors will be discussing initiatives related to reduction of the carbon footprint within their communities. For more information on the event, please see csumb.edu/green.
January 2009 Each semester, students from Ecology (BIO 340/340L) explore the local marine and terrestrial ecosystems of the Monterey Bay region. In Fall 2008, the students took 3 trips to the Great Tide Pool in Pacific Grove, where Ed Ricketts was known to collect specimens, to study the rocky intertidal ecosystem. The students recorded patterns of abundance, distribution, and diversity of algae and invertebrates in the various zones of the rocky intertidal. First the students conducted a survey of species in the area by making a species-area curve, and then they measured diversity at different tidal levels (or other intertidal features). These data, collected each semester, may help us to see patterns related to disturbances like changing climate and human impacts in the intertidal zone.
December 2008 Three lucky graduate students from CSUMB’s Institute for Applied Marine Ecology had the marine biology research opportunity of a lifetime – living under the sea for eight days. Professor James Lindholm, graduate students Jeremiah Brantner, Mathew Subia, and Ashley Knight, and undergraduate Nicholas Donlou headed to the Florida Keys in November for a study designed to understand the fine-scale movements and habitat utilizations of three coral reef species: black grouper, blue parrotfish, and hogfish. They observed over 150 individuals and dove for up to 7 hours per day, a benefit of saturation SCUBA diving made possible by the Aquarius Undersea Laboratory. Aquarius, the world’s only undersea habitat dedicated to scientific research, sits at a depth of 60 feet in the coral reef offshore of Key Largo and is owned and operated by NOAA and the University of North Carolina, Wilmington.
November 2008 Students from the Geomorphic Systems class (GEOL 360: Geomorphic Systems (4 units)) have now installed nearly 20 benchmarked cross sections across the Big Sur River and Arroyo Seco. Their reports, quantifying present channel geometry and stream bottom characteristics will form the baseline data required to evaluate the potentially catastrophic changes anticipated from the post-fire winter rains of 2008-09. These surveys, including hundreds of photo-monitoring shots, will help us understand how rapidly impacts occur, and how many years they linger. Our periodic resurveys and reports may help residents plan for flooding events. These data will be used in capstones and in at least one Masters thesis.
October 2008 A field trip to Monterey Abalone Company lets CSUMB students get up-close and personal with friendly gastropods (abalone). Monterey Abalone is located underneath Pier #2 in Monterey Harbor and is an environmentally conscious aquaculture operation utilizing a rapidly renewable resource and one of the fastest growing plants on the planet, kelp, to feed the farm. The trip is part of one of two ESTP courses taught by Don Mautner: Introductory Oceanography (ESTP 271) and Monterey Bay: A Case Study in Environmental Science and Policy (ESTP 282). These courses also engage students in assessing wave action and coastal erosion at Del Monte Beach in Monterey.
September 2008 The rainy season is just a month or two away. This is when planting of native plants in Salinas' riparian corridors, on the dunes, or in the BLM backcountry takes place - a favorite time for Laura Lee Lienk. Laura Lee wears multiple hats at CSUMB all revolving around "science in service to the community". In SNS, Laura Lee teaches "Community Based Watershed Service Learning" and supports other SNS faculty in their community partnerships for service learning courses. Laura Lee is also a Co-Director of the Watershed Institute where she directs the Return of the Natives Restoration Education Program (RON). Students and community members work with RON to restore local habitats - especially in uban situations where people need opportunities to be closer to nature!
August 2008 Students Xeronimo Castaneda and Ben Nilsen are shown assisting with research at Point Lobos State Reserve that is being conducted through the Marine Landscape Ecology Lab at CSUMB. Under the supervision of Dr. Corey Garza students are assisting with the development of survey methods that can estimate scale dependency in the relationship between environmental factors, such as topographic complexity, and patterns of species distribution and abundance in rocky intertidal communities. General landscape ecology theory suggests that factors that affect species distribution and abundance at the scale of a few meters may not necessarily relate to species distribution and abundance at larger spatial scales. The data gathered by students in the lab will be used to develop GIS and statistical models that will help provide estimates as to how strongly physical and biological processes structure intertidal marine communities at local and regional scales. The development of such models can not only provide insight on the general relationship between environmental factors and species distribution but can also help guide environmental monitoring designs aimed at tracking the relationship between the environment and marine species at multiple scales.
July 2008 In June, the California Transect class of 2008 completed a 1000-mile lap of the Sierra Nevada. Twenty-two students and seven staff completed the trip, taking in campsites, hikes, and field activities in diverse locations such as Mt Whitney Portal, Death Valley National Park, Mono Lake, and the Freeman Grove of Giant Sequoias. The class focuses on the aspects of environmental science and history that relate to contemporary issues such as water scarcity, climate change, threatened species, pollution, and public land management.
June 2008 ESSP undergraduates Mary Young and Miles Daniels participated in the 22nd annual system-wide CSU Student Research Competition against undergraduate students throughout the CSU system. Both competed in the Biological and Agricultural Sciences round. Mary presented her capstone project “Multivariate Prediction Models of Rockfish Abundance & Distribution in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, California”. Miles presented on “Inorganic Nutrient Removal from a Constructed Treatment Wetland in Monterey County, California” and won first place in his session!
May 2008 Jon Detka, a lecturer currently teaching FYS (First Year Seminar for Science Majors), Chem 110L, and PHYS 121L: Integrated Phy Science Lab (1 units) is working to conserve threatened and endangered rare plant species throughout Fort Ord and the Central Coast. Jon graduated from the ESSP program in 2001, and has just finished an MS at SJSU in Conservation Biology & Ecology by conducting research for USFWS and BLM that identified the potential affect of fire on a rare maritime chaparral shrub Eastwood's Golden Fleece (Ericameria fasciculata, Asteraceae). This work continues, and Jon is now building on this experience while working for Denise Duffy and Associates to monitor rare plant populations along the Central Coast.
April 2008 Condor Tech Support Team. Graduate student Tamara Myers (left) and undergraduate student Katie Lannon are developing new technologies to help save the endangered California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus). These magnificent soaring birds came perilously close to extinction when, in 1982, a total of only 22 individuals remained alive. Intensive captive breeding programs have since raised those numbers to over 300. The Ventana Wildlife Society (VWS) is now leading efforts to reintroduce some of these condors to the steep mountains of Big Sur and the Ventana Wilderness, located less than an hour's drive south of CSUMB. Condors often travel over 100 miles a day, so tracking and monitoring them in these rugged mountains is a challenge. Tamara and Katie are working with VWS biologist Joe Burnett and Professor Steve Moore in CSUMB’s Ecosystem Electronics Laboratory (EEL) to develop video surveillance systems for remote monitoring of wild condor behavior during nesting and in pre-release pens. They are also experimenting with inexpensive ways to automate the tracking of condor movements in remote areas. Their research will help answer questions about condor biology and behavior and will assist VWS in its condor reintroduction efforts.
March 2008 DNA Barcoding Cryptic Invaders. Over the past century all of Southern California's and most of Central California’s native Bay Mussels (Mytilus trossulus) have been replaced by the European Blue Mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis) and no one noticed a thing. Because the two species appear so alike, one has to use DNA analysis to tell them apart. And because the mussels are so similar scientists hope to learn a lot about what it takes to make a successful invader. To help track the ongoing northward expansion of the invader, High School Biology Teachers and some Moss Landing graduate students have been working each summer with professors Henrik Kibak (CSUMB) and Simona Bartl (MLML) to sample the DNA of mussels from area waters.Based on this ongoing research experience, the teachers prepare lessons and practice techniques with a summer contingent of RISE students with the ultimate goal of sharing these concepts with their own classrooms. More info...
February 2008 CSUMB students have been studying the future Fort Ord Dunes State Park as a living laboratory to study restoration in BIO 240L and to learn about natural history interpretation in ESSP 349S. These dunes were once used for target practice by soldiers stationed at Fort Ord. After the bullet casings were removed, State Parks staff teamed with Beach Garden Project volunteers to plant tens of thousands of dune plants to recreate the vibrant dune plant community that once existed there. CSUMB introductory biology students have been assessing the progress of this restoration effort by comparing it to a reference site at the Martin Dunes (co-owned by the Big Sur Land Trust). Biology students Mary McLellan and Sarah Park stand in front of a restored dune, while Lindsay Flores and Alex Vega collect vegetation data along a transect. In preparation for the Fort Ord Dunes State Parks grand opening, ESSP349S students, Daniel Miller, Esa Morrison, and Monique Flores, created an orientation sign with State Parks staff during fall semester 2007.
January 2008 Students in Marine Geospatial Technologies and Seafloor Mapping (ESSP 433/533) conducted a hydrographic survey of Elkhorn Slough from CSUMB Seafloor Mapping Lab’s R/V VenTresca. Elkhorn Slough, one of California’s last remaining coastal wetlands, has been impacted by increasing tidal scour since the 1947 opening of Moss Landing Harbor. Class data will be compared with time series from previous surveys to assess changes in slough erosion rates for presentation at the May 2008 Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Symposium at CSUMB. Above, Brian Spear, Anthony Zelensky, and Eric Adams recover the multibeam sonar. Below, Jacob Hinkle and SFML staff/instructor Pat Iampietro monitor navigation and multibeam data collection.
December 2007 Students from the Geomorphic Systems class (GEOL 360: Geomorphic Systems (4 units)) made high-precision surveys of a channelized reach of Carneros Creek to establish present stream conditions. Carneros Creek is the main waterway feeding water and sediment to the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve. The creek is slated for wetland and stream restoration in coming months. The student-generated data will add to a long-term stream monitoring database, and will be used to create, and evaluate, restoration proposals. ESTP student Lauren Grounds records data from a cross section survey.
November 2007 Last month, students from the BIO 345: Marine Biology (4 units) Marine Biology class assisted in the collection of data at the Del Monte shalebeds, a diverse ocean seascape just off the coast of Cannery Row in Monterey. A small video camera (held by CSUMB student Josh Hess, in the picture) was deployed over the side of R/V MacGinitie and towed for 45 minute transects. Data on fish and invertebrate species as well as habitat attributes were recorded using a geospatial annotation system. These data will be integrated into a growing data library as CSUMB develops the shalebeds as a "living laboratory" for the conduct of student-driven scientific research.
October 2007 Capstone student and CCoWS intern, Jessica Watson, is studying the life cycle of invertebrates in Carmel Lagoon. These invertebrates form part of the prey base for threatened steelhead trout rearing in the lagoon. The lagoon habitat was greatly expanded by State Parks in 2005 for the benefit of the trout. Previous CCoWS studies led by Dr Fred Watson have shown that the invertebrate populations fluctuate significantly, and Jessica's thesis aims to find out why. She's focusing on Corophium - a tiny crustacean that lives in tubes it builds on the sandy bottom of the lagoon. It is intended that this work will help future habitat enhancement projects in other lagoons optimize their steelhead habitat.
September 2007 Graduate student Jeremiah Brantner and Dr. James Lindholm of CSUMB’s Institute for Applied Marine Ecology are investigating the effects of seafloor complexity on the use of acoustic telemetry. Currently, automated acoustic telemetry is widely utilized to address questions regarding the movement of aquatic organisms in relation to marine protected area (MPA) boundaries. While this technology provides researchers with a previously unavailable view of fish behavior, it is suspected that seafloor complexity (ie. high, rocky relief) plays a role in limiting the operating range of acoustic tracking devices. By quantifying these effects, researchers will gain a better understanding of fish behavior and thus the requirements of effective MPAs.
August 2007 This summer, Dr. Marc Los Huertos and collaborators from UC Santa Cruz and Stanford University began work to characterize the biogeochemical processes occurring in the Harkins Slough Aquifer Storage Recharge System in Watsonville, CA. Water from Harkins Slough is pumped into this depression and percolates into the groundwater to be pumped later for irrigation purposes. Evidence suggests that nitrate in the pond is reduced as the water moves through the hyporheic zone toward the water table. Dr. Los Huertos and his colleagues are currently installing instruments to measure the water flux and nitrate removal when the pond is full.
July 2007 In an effort to improve water quality, growers along the Central Coast have collaborated with researchers at CSUMB's Division of Science and Environmental Policy to test the use of treatment wetlands to reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorous concentrations and loads to surface waters that drain into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Many growers are willing to implement practices to improve water quality at their expense, but they want to determine if these efforts are cost effective. This research is the first step to determine the effectiveness of these treatment systems. This project has been developed in collaboration with the Resource Conservation District of Monterey County.
June 2007 Students and faculty from CSUMB’s Institute for Applied Marine Ecology joined scientists from the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary on board the NOAA ship McArthur II to study the recovery of seafloor habitats and associated taxa following the cessation of bottom trawling along California’s central coast. Data collected with the towed video camera sled (pictured above) will be used to compare areas that are no longer fished to areas that continue to be fished. This was year 2 of a multi-year collaborative study directed toward improving our understanding of the ecological consequences of fishing activity.