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MERP seniors contribute to large, real-world project
MERP seniors contribute to large, real-world project

Working in collaboration with researchers from the U.S. and Mexico, four seniors in the Marine Ecology Research Program are contributing to a large study on the impact of climate change on abalone populations.

The researchers are focused on abalone in the California Current, which brings cool water down the West Coast from British Columbia to Baja, California. Specifically, the team is looking at how the interplay of off-shore and near-shore conditions affect the structure of abalone populations.

The project involves researchers at Stanford University, the University of Georgia, the Autonomous University of Baja California, and an NGO called Comunidad y Biodiversidad. It is funded through the National Science Foundation's Biological Oceanography program.

On January 16, three of the MERP seniors took part in a meeting with researchers at Stanford's Hopkins Marine Station. Rosemary Lee, Chanel Sun, and Candace Wong presented the results of projects they have been working on specifically for this collaboration. Rosemary and Chanel reported on their statistical analysis of oceanographic variability and abalone habitats off Isla Natividad, Mexico. Candace presented work she has done with Ava Owens on climate change's effects on algae that grow on seagrass.

These students will present their finished projects along with 10 other MERP seniors at the Ocean Sciences Meeting 2020 from February 17-21 in San Diego. This professional conference attracts ocean researchers from around the world. While there, the students will present their research in poster sessions, listen to talks, network, and attend workshops on many different aspects of ocean science.

The projects

  • The collaboration: "Evaluating how abalone populations in the California Current are structured by the interplay of large-scale oceanographic forcing and nearshore variability"
  • Rosemary and Chanel: "Statistical analysis of local oceanographic variability relative to abalone habitats off Isla Natividad"
  • Candace and Ava: "The differential effects of two dominant epiphyte grazers associated with surfgrass Pyllospadix torreyi in controlling epiphytic algae levels in seagrass beds"

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