When it Rains, it’s Gonna Pour

Fires and floods are becoming all too common for coastal Southern California residents — but are these ‘extreme’ events likely to become even more frequent? Answering this question requires a comprehensive understanding of precipitation patterns in the region and how they are likely to change in the coming decades. Most previous research on climate change… Read more »

The Devil’s in the Details for Kelp Forest Biodiversity

fish swimming through giant kelp forest

Kelp forests have long been known to harbor a high number and diversity of marine species, from tiny crustaceans to large fish and marine mammals. This biodiversity tends to be attributed to the complex structure and productivity of giant kelp, earning it the title ‘foundational species’. Surprisingly, however, little quantitative data has been assessed to… Read more »

2018 NSF LTER Symposium: Understanding Our Ocean Connections

colorful coral reef

The National Science Foundation Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network presents an overview of the rich and varied research taking place at its 28 sites. In 2018, the topic of this annual half-day symposium is ocean ecosystems and their connections to marine species and human well-being.

LTER Road Trip: Kelp Forests link land and sea

Close up of kelp fronds

The path to the beach was steep, partially eroded by the wind and rain on this Pacific Ocean-facing cliff in Santa Barbara. Carefully holding my camera, I scampered down as gracefully as I could after Kyle Emery and Nick Schooler, two PhD students at the University of Santa Barbara. From the top of the cliff,… Read more »

LTER Road Trip: Beach Hoppers Illustrate Coastal Resilience in Santa Barbara

Closeup of a beach hopper (aka sand flea)

Two undergraduate students bent over shiny metal trays loaded with wrack from the nearby beaches at the Santa Barbara Coastal Long Term Ecological Research site (SBC LTER). Bright lights lit up their tweezers as they sifted through vegetation and detritus, searching for specific creatures: beach hoppers, beetles, flies, and isopods, as well as different species… Read more »

A Changing Tide: Biodiversity on Sandy Beaches

Pile of kelp fronds on a beach

Credit: Ingrid Taylar. CC BY 2.0To maintain the image of a pristine beach—wide stretches of sand absent of fly-ridden piles of seaweed—managers often add sand to beaches and remove seaweed. This removal may lead to a more enjoyable experience for humans, but it constitutes a major loss of habitat for sandy beach critters, which use… Read more »

Adventure is Out There: Pokémon and Wildlife Await

You’ve probably heard about Pokémon Go, the recent craze that has captured America and the world. After stealing the hearts of children over a decade ago, Pokémon are back — this time in our smartphones. People of all ages are tracking rare Pokémon, trying to “catch ’em all”. But what about interaction with the world that exists outside of our phones?

At Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve (CDR), in East Bethel MN, community members have graduated beyond virtual quarry. There, they track living animals across the reserve. CDR’s new wildlife tracking citizen science program, the Cedar Creek Wildlife Survey, taps the same vein of enthusiasm as chasing Pokemon. It and other similar programs are making use of people’s passion for tracking and adventure and applying it to local data collection and exploration.

SBC LTER researchers respond in force to the Refugio oil spill

Traveling west along the Gaviota coast on the afternoon of May 19, 2015, Santa Barbara Coastal (SBC) Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) scientists Mark Page and Jenny Dugan and graduate student Nicholas Schooler first noticed a very strong smell of oil starting about a mile east of Refugio State Beach. They decided to park along… Read more »