Coastal ecosystems are important for so many human uses, but they also are incredibly fascinating on their own. Integrating environmental signals from land, rivers and the ocean, species in these habitats often need to cope with variable conditions and have very evolved unique ways of doing so (check out some examples being studied at Bodega Bay Marine Lab).
Estuarine and nearshore ecosystems provide many critical resources (e.g., fishing) and ecosystem services, but our activities also unfortunately can negatively impact them. Big threats to coastal species include biological invasions, over-harvesting, habitat loss and degradation, pollution, disease and climate change.
Studying these ecosystems helps us to understand natural processes and document how populations, habitats and communities can change with different human stressors- essential for effective conservation and restoration planning. For example, in Northern California there is a lot of interest in restoring native oysters, but do that we need to understand how they interact with their environment and other species (check out more details on Brian Cheng and Ted Grosholz’s work on this here and here).
Coastal Conservation Ecology in the Spermonde Islands, Sulawesi, Indonesia
Last fall, I had the privilege of joining the research team of Drs. Susan Williams and Rohani Ambo Rappe and contribute to several marine conservation ecology projects in the Spermonde Islands off of South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Our work was part of their ongoing international collaborative initiative between UC Davis and Hasanuddin University. In fact, Dr. Williams and part of the team just returned to Sulawesi last week, so we should hear some updates soon!
Projects include (Learn more details about the projects here):
- Investigating how biodiversity affects seagrass restoration success
- Monitoring of local coral reef restoration progress
- Surveying fish markets to understand local fishing patterns and identify species of concern
- Outreach activities to engage local communities in understanding and mitigating the impacts of marine debris on coastal environments