Species numbers going UP in the coastal ocean

Ryan just published a paper in Ecology Letters showing that the number of species in many parts of the coastal ocean is going up, not down as many would expect.  He spent the past few years trying to understand how marine biodiversity is changing, but his findings were initially so surprising that he doubted them.

Globally, biodiversity is going down. But because some species have started to live in more places, and different places, what happens globally isn’t what we see locally.

He studied decades of patterns in biodiversity around the North American coastline, and surprisingly, most of these regions show *increases* in the number of species present. At the same time, He found that organisms that were previously rare in these areas are becoming increasingly common.

The natural world is full of surprises.

Welcome Allison Dedrick and Joyce Ong

Allison Dedrick and Joyce Ong have just joined the lab as postdocs, and we’re excited to have them here! Allison is coming from a Ph.D. with Marissa Baskett and Loo Botsford at UC Davis, and Joyce just finished her Ph.D. with Mark Meekan at U. Western Australia. They will be working on reef fish metapopulation dynamics (Allison) and synchrony in marine population dynamics (Joyce).

Allison Dedrick
Joyce Ong

New papers from the lab

Exciting news on the publication front:

  • Jim’s paper on rapid responses of marine animals to winter temperature variability is now out in Global Change Biology. He found strong variation in how animals responded to a warm winter (higher or lower abundance; or shift north vs. south), but the rate and direction of response was predictable from thermal affinity.
  • Ryan has been hard at work to understand long-term trends in species richness in marine ecosystems all around North America. The paper was just accepted in Ecology Letters! More on this later.
  • Jordan Holtswarth was an REU student in our lab last summer, and her paper on reproduction in clownfish is now in press at Bulletin of Marine Science!

Field season in the Philippines

It is May, and we have a larger-than-usual team this year headed to Visayas State University in the Philippines to continue our research on metapopulation dynamics in coral reef fish. Michelle is leading the tagging and sample collection, Katrina is trying new oceanographic measurement sand field experiments, Allison is getting her first introduction to the system in preparation for modeling efforts, and Malin is helping out all around and catching fish (thanks to training from Tony Nahacky last year). We also have the indispensable help of local assistants Gerry Sucano and Rodney Silvano, plus Apollo Lizano (visiting student from U. Philippines Marine Science Institute). It’s great to be in the water again!

Jim @ Fisheries Leadership & Sustainability Forum

Postdoc Jim Morley is just back from presenting and participating in the latest Fisheries Forum in Monterey, CA earlier this week. The topic was “Managing Fisheries in a Changing Environment,” and participants included Fisheries Management Council members, staff, NOAA employees, and many state agency employees. Lots of interest in how to adapt to the rapidly changing ocean conditions that we are seeing. Jim talked about how OceanAdapt and the species distribution projections we are developing can help.

Patrick defends!

Patrick Flanagan very successfully presented and defended his MS Thesis today, “Community-temperature mismatch in a benthic marine ecosystem.” He investigated whether changing temperature could be used to understand ecological community change on the northeast US continental shelf. Congratulations, Patrick! He’s graduating from the Graduate Program in Oceanography.