The nearshore marine environment, where land meets sea, is one of the most biologically productive areas on Earth. Minerals from weathered rock wash down to meet sea-borne nutrients. The mixture provides enriched waters to support intertidal and subtidal organisms at all phases of their development, whether they be larvae or whales. However, harmful substances also get washed into the marine environment in the process. Scientists in this group look at the complex dynamics of these natural forces and those induced by humans, and how they affect the plants and animals of the nearshore environments.
This group concentrates on species, processes, and environments of the nearshore. The methods and approaches the scientists employ are as varied as the species they study. Using molecular tools and innovative field methods, scientists in this group explore population biology and genetics, systematics, reproduction, community structure, evolutionary biology, and ecosystem health.
Coastal Biology Cluster Members
Bernardi, associate professor of biology. Bernardi
Scientists in this group have great success in developing unique field and lab techniques to investigate wild populations of marine mammals, marine birds, and raptors. These birds and animals are difficult to study in the wild because they live in remote and often inaccessible environments.
The marine vertebrate cluster, one of the largest in the institute, includes researchers who study a broad range of animals including dolphins, whales, sea otters, seals, sea lions, peregrine falcons, penguins, and eagles.
They use new technology to study energetics and physiology of captive animals, hearing and vision of marine mammals in the field and lab, and foraging and diving behavior of wild animals. The predatory bird research group tracks golden eagles with radiotelemetry devices that follow eagles' seasonal migration routes across entire continents.
Marine Vertebrate Biology Cluster Members
Costa, professor of biology. Costa group
Scientists in this group explore the oceans to gain deeper understandings of the chemical, physical, and biological parts. From Antarctica to the Monterey Bay, they travel on ships that cross the ocean surfaces and probe the midwater and deep sea.
For humans, coastal seas are about the most important and vulnerable areas of the world oceans. We use these areas for food supplies, as much of the world's fish catch is taken from coastal waters and adjacent upwelling regions.
Phytoplankton are the first link in the ocean food chain. This chain links marine fish, mammals, birds, and humans. As a result, phytoplankton blooms control a lot of what occurs in coastal ecosystems and especially Monterey Bay. Scientists think that natural cycles of when blooms occur and what kinds of phytoplankton are in the bloom are being altered on a global scale by human activities. These activities include introducing essential nutrients and toxic contaminants into the oceans, changing river flows, and moving marine plants and animals from port to port through ships' ballasts.
Oceanography and Ocean Processes Cluster Members
associate project scientist
Climate pretty much controls the diversity and organization of continental and marine ecosystems. Researchers in this cluster look at the big picture of Earth's marine and land history and past climates and environments. They develop tools used to investigate the physical, chemical, and biological properties of the seafloor or preserved sediments that contain the store of Earth's historical record.
These past records help us understand historical ocean circulation patterns, global climate changes, and variations in Earth's floral and faunal populations.
Paleoclimatology involves sedimentary geology and paleontology, and includes newer approaches such as light stable isotope interpretations and modeling of the Earth system with supercomputers. With this knowledge, human influences on global climate change can be better understood, and we gain insight into the processes that drive migration and extinction of animals.
Paleoceanography, Paleoclimatology, and Global Change Cluster Members
Delaney, professor of ocean sciences
Earth scientists who are interested in the physics, chemistry, and geological evolution of the ocean form this group.
Some of these scientists are active in the Ocean Drilling Program and have worked throughout the world's ocean basins. They are interested in fluid flowing through the Earth's crust below the oceans, from locations where the crust is young, to where old seafloor is destroyed at oceanic trenches. Fisher and Gill are also active in studying coastal hydrogeology and water quality.
Others study geological materials at locations where the Earth's crust is being changed by earthquake and shoreline processes. The active California coastline has a range of coastal and offshore processes and problems within a few minutes or miles of the UCSC campus.
Marine and Coastal Geology Cluster Members
Fisher, professor of earth sciences. Fisher group
These scientists come from the new UCSC department of environmental toxicology. Clean water is a limited resource for much of the world's population; public health and food from the sea are often jeopardized by water pollution. Despite the seriousness and urgency of the problems facing society, little attention has been paid to research in aquatic toxicology.
Environmental toxicologists search for a better understanding of the poisons which exist throughout the environment, whether they occur naturally or are created by humans. Environ-mental toxicology deals with the nature, properties, detection, transport and fate, and biological effects of all environmental chemicals that may pose a significant hazard to any component of the web of life.
Environmental Toxicology Cluster Members
Flegal, professor of environmental toxicology. Flegal
Scientists in this group study a wide range of topics, from finding out how many fish there are to looking at the factors that affect fishes' lives. They are also interested in how fishery regulations affect the humans who are dependent upon the fishery for survival.
The National Marine Fisheries Service Santa Cruz Lab is located adjacent to Long Marine Lab. The lab supports 50 scientists and staff, many of them IMS research associates, whose focus is on Pacific Coast groundfish, salmon, and fisheries management. The 53,000-square-foot facility opened in 2000.
Fisheries and Fishery Management Cluster Members
supervisory fishery research biologists