I'm so pleased to be featured on the Oregon State University Graduate School homepage! The image is definitely representative of my graduate dissertation field research: a joyful and excruciating exercise in navigating among waves to collect data in the early hours of the morning.
A few months ago, after posting the above image on Twitter, I was contacted by Natalie Sopinka, who writes for the "Back Page" section of the American Fisheries Society's magazine (Fisheries) to share the story behind this photograph. You can find the full-text of the article at this link. Here, I wanted to share a few additional photographs about what it's like to work in the intertidal after dark.
What are the conditions like at night compared to daytime?
- Interview Excerpt, Intertidal after Dark, Sopinka & Barner
As the sun sets, it becomes exponentially more difficult to get work done, so we often arrive at a site hours early, waiting for the first chance to work as the tide "goes out". Ideally, the most difficult tasks are done in the remaining light, however dim. For example, above, we are counting thousands of tiny mussels and barnacles on the rock within the white PVC square "quadrats". We use quadrats to make sure we always are counting plants and animals in the same sized area - a square quarter-meter. This way, all of our data are comparable.
Getting darker and darker.
The tools of the trade: PVC pipes, waterproof cameras, rulers, pencils & Rite in the Rain paper, headlamps and our trusty brightly colored "foulies"
PVC pipes (left) can be easily assembled (and disassembled) into a stable frame to hold a camera - especially at night when the dim light means camera shutter is open for longer and thus the camera must be very still to capture a clear picture. We often take pictures (center) in standardized ways (with a ruler, or with a consistently sized plot) to speed up the fieldwork process. Take pictures now - analyze later! (right) Headlamp illuminates a clipboard of waterproof paper, our datasheets.
Animals in the dark
(clockwise from top left) Pycnopodia helianthoides, a limpet cruises across a nice bare rock, a field of purple sea urchins, and Henricia leviuscula amid the urchins
To guide international humanitarian efforts over the next 15 years, the United Nations has ambitiously proposed 17 goals to work toward environmental, economic, and social prosperity for all. These Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) tap into the fundamental aspirations that cross all cultures and nations, and into our most fundamental humanity:
This Agenda is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity. It also seeks
In this framework, all people have a role to play in achieving the SDGs. For scientists in particular, what role can we play in service to these humanitarian goals? In concert with the recent finalization of these goals, we recently published a commentary in Nature Geoscience [pdf] discussing the different ways that scientists could participate in the global effort. The Goals set a formidible, and seemingly overwhelming, task for individuals to make a difference, but there are tangible ways in which all scientists can embed their work and their practice in this global framework.
This past spring, I was awarded the Oregon State University Lenore Bayley Fellowship from the OSU Graduate School. This month, the Graduate School sponsored a special luncheon for all graduate student award recipients, a summary blog of which features me and my Ph.D. advisers. Thanks again to the Graduate School for their continued support of graduate students at Oregon State University!
A new piece in The Conversation by Jane Lubchenco and Steve Gaines highlights our recent review in Oceanography on the benefits of pairing rights-based fisheries management and marine reserves. In our review, we discuss the various solutions to managing an overfished ocean, and how so-called TURF-Reserves offer a way forward to sustainable harvest, healthy local economies, and the preservation of marine biodiversity.
After almost four years, the fruits of our Oregon State University graduate student biodiversity collaboration has paid off! Starting in fall 2011 as a NSF-sponsored Dimensions of Biodiversity Distributed Graduate Seminar, we have continued to work on our two projects and this summer we see both of our papers published in PLoS ONE!
Evaluating Temporal Consistency in Marine Biodiversity Hotspots
Patterns and Variation in Benthic Biodiversity in a Large Marine Ecosystem
Despite ample evidence from the terrestrial environment for a globally coherent pattern of increasing biodiversity towards the equator, patterns of marine biodiversity don't always follow this pattern and show inconsistencies in large-scale macroecological patterns of biodiversity. We explored taxonomic and functional biodiversity patterns for groundfish and benthic invertebrates along 15-degrees of latitude on the US West Coast, with data gathered from the same trawl survey as Piacenza & Thurman et al. 2015 (above). The patterns of bentic diversity are complex, whereby fish and invertebrate diversity differed most strongly along a depth gradient, rather than a latitudinal gradient. In particular, invertebrate diversity increased at depth, but fish diversity peaked at shallow depths along the continental shelf.
Piacenza SE, Barner AK, Benkwitt CE, Boersma KS, Cerny-Chipman EB, Ingeman KE, et al. (2015) Patterns and variation in benthic biodiversity in a large marine ecosystem. PLoS ONE 10(8): e0135135.
See more about our DBDGS group at Oregon State University, featured in Nature News.
I'm still reeling from a great week at the annual Ecological Society of America meeting earlier this month in Baltimore! The session organized by myself and Lindsey Thurman on biotic interactions & species distributions was a huge success! Thanks to all our great speakers for joining us and stimulating such great conversations. You can find more information about the session at our unofficial website. If you couldn't make it, check out the associated papers for two of our speakers: Dave Harris & Phoebe Zarnetzke.
As for the other talks I attended, my new strategy of sitting through entire organized sessions and symposia paid off: investing in thinking about a single subject for several hours was intellectually rewarding (and much less exhausting than running between talks). I particularly enjoyed the symposium "Understanding Temporal Trends in Biodiversity", organized by Nick Gotelli, Maria Dornelas, Brian McGill and Anne Magurran. The speaker list was phenomenal and they tackled a difficult and controversial subject with brilliance and thoughtfulness.
Of the individual talks I attended, I noticed two emerging themes (likely more a reflection of my own research interests):
1. In the context of thinking about ecological states and changes between them (i.e. "regime shifts", but also no-analog communities with climate change), there is much discussion on the commonness of disequilibrium between species distributions/community structure, and climate.
Finally, I am so pleased to have won the Best Student Talk Award from the Aquatic Section!
This is such an honor and I am so grateful to all that attended. I'll post the slides from my talk here as soon as possible.
Rogue Ale's new Wasted Sea Star Purple Pale Ale is now available! In May, members of the Menge lab and OSU PISCO attended to taste & to hear members of the Rogue community, representatives from the Oregon Coast Aquarium, and our very own Jenna Sullivan talk about the collaboration between Rogue, OSU, and PISCO. Now you can order it online (for delivery to WA or CA only). A portion of the proceeds go towards research on the sea star wasting syndrome epidemic now in it's second summer in Oregon.
More information can be found below: