Project Description: Landscape Ecology of Nearshore Biological Communities Along the California Coast: from Video-based Diver Transects to Spatial Modeling

Summary

The three-fold goals of this project are a) to study patterns in the distribution of nearshore marine communities across the state, b) to collect data inside and out of State marine protected areas, and c) to establish a video archive of imagery for use in future analyses. The project replicates in the nearshore (< 20 m water depth) of California a similar study design to our existing ROV sampling across the state ranging from Point Arena to La Jolla in waters ranging from 20 – 500 m water depth (http://sep.csumb.edu/ifame/). We collect both structural and biological community data in the shallow, rocky subtidal at locations including northern CA, north-central CA (north of Pt. Conception), south-central CA (south of Point Conception), and southern CA. Specific sampling locations include (from north to south) Gerstle Cove within the Salt Point State Park, the Big Creek Ecological Reserve, Refugio State Park, Leo Carillo State Beach, and La Jolla Cove. Each location was selected for the general biogeographic regime that it represents, the presence of existing monitoring data (e.g., California Reef Check), and for the presence of state marine reserves or conservation areas (at most sites).
In Summer 2016 three additional sites will be added around the Monterey Peninsula, including Carmel River State Beach, Carmel Beach, and McAbee Beach in Monterey.

Student Involvement

All SCUBA dives are conducted by trained research divers from CSU Monterey Bay’s Research Diving Program. Additional sampling sites and time periods are planned as the number of project partners is expanded in the coming years. At total of 20 undergraduates and two graduate students have participated directly in the project to-date. Two graduate internships (through CSUMB’s Professional Science Masters Program) will be focused on the project over the summer of 2016.

Broader Significance

Analyses of project data will include changes in abundance, diversity, and species composition with latitude as well as inter-annual changes related to recent El Nino events. Other on-going efforts include fine-scale analyses of patterns in fish-habitat interactions within and among sites as well as inside and out of State Marine Protected Areas, and spatial modeling resulting from the combination of observational data and the high-resolution topographic maps produced by the California State Mapping Project.

IfAME PI

Dr. James Lindholm

Financial Support

SEP.org, US Department of Education, Private Donations to the IfAME

Field Support

CSUMB Research Diving Program

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