Project Description: The Seasonal Dynamics of Sandy Habitat Geomorphology and Epifaunal Associations on the Continental Shelf of Monterey Bay, California

Summary

In many areas geomorphology drives species distribution and abundance. On the continental shelf, the sandy plains habitat comprises one of the largest habitats of the north-eastern Pacific and is of great importance to California’s largest commercial fisheries, Dungeness crab and market squid. Yet, large knowledge gaps remain and impede a clear understanding of the dynamics of the sandy substrate geomorphology as well as for understanding of what drives organismal distributions. This research will investigate how structural changes of the seafloor of the continental shelf (15-160 m depth) impact the biological habitat. Seasonal use of, acoustical methods (mulitbeam and side scan sonar) will be used to quantify geomorphological dynamics of the seafloor and video methods gathered via remotely operated vehicle will be used to quantify associated epifaunal species densities. The results of this research will not only fill needed knowledge gaps for the scientific community but, it will also provide timely information to coastal marine resource managers and policy makers.

Student Involvement

To date the project has supported the participation of 4 undergraduates. Three CSUMB students Nicole Barbour, Madison Heard and Jesirae Collins are active participants in the projects. Chelsea Burgess of Haskell Indian Nations University in Kansas participated in the project as student researcher through the CSUMB Ocean Science REU program this past summer.

Broader Significance

The project provides new insights into how geological variation on the continental shelf drives populations dynamics in this commercially important fishery species in California.

IfAME PI

Dr. Corey Garza

Financial Support

National Science Foundation

Field Support

CSUMB inflatable and R/V VenTresca. Side scan sonar and ROV.

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