I have been incredibly fortunate to conduct research in some amazing places and recognize these places as the ancestral homelands of Alaskan Native and Native American Peoples. In particular my PhD was conducted on the traditional lands and waters of the Tlingit and Haida of Southeast Alaska and benefitted from numerous conversations with community leaders and members who hold an intimate knowledge of these ecosystems. I am grateful for these opportunities and thank the Klawock Cooperative Association and Hydaburg Cooperative Association for there support of APECS research.
Spatial and temporal patterns and population effects of sea otter harvest in Southeast Alaska
While sea otters are protected from commercial harvest under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), coastal Alaska Natives are exempt from this ban. Sea otters harvested by Alaskan Natives are reported to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. These data are what my co-authors and I are using to describe the spatial and temporal patterns of harvest. We are also using these data to develop a population simulation model which will allow us to test the effect that known harvest mortality may or may not have on the sea otter population as a whole. We hope to submit a manuscript for publication in early 2019.
The project is funded my Alaska SeaGrant and published in Ecosphere.
Eelgrass community relationships across a gradient of sea otter recovery
As a part of the APECS project, I am investigating the role of sea otters in eelgrass beds in Southeast Alaska. Specifically we are interested in whether trophic (food-web) cascade patterns observed in Elkhorn Slough California and similar patterns in the Baltic Sea scale up to Southeast Alaska. In 2017 the APECS team collected data from multiple eelgrass sites on Prince of Wales Island on eelgrass, epiphytes, grazers, crabs, fishes, and sea otters. A manuscript of this research is currently under peer-review.
This project is funded primarily by the National Science Foundation but has also received support from a number of small grants I have obtained including a North Pacific Research Board Graduate Student Research Award, the Steven Berkeley Marine Conservation Fellowship from the American Fisheries Society, and the Lerner-Gray Fund for Marine Research. APECS has also collaborated with the Earthwatch Institute to make this project happen.
Disentangling trophic relationships of Southeast Alaska eelgrass communities
Building off my work in eelgrass beds we wanted to delve deeper into the trophic relationships among eelgrass associated species. For this project we are using stable isotopes and fatty acids from key members of the eelgrass community to trace energy flow and tease apart dietary relationships. Field work for this project was conducted in 2018 and tissue samples will be processed during the 2018/2019 school year. A manuscript of this research will be submitted for peer review by the end of 2020.
This work is funded by the same sources as Chapter 2 and benefits from a close partnership with my committee member Aaron Galloway and his lab at Oregon Institute of Marine Biology
MarineGEO Global seagrass food webs
I lead the Alaska site for the MarineGEO Global seagrass food webs project. The project aims to collected seagrass community data from around the world to investigate biotic and abiotic drivers of energy flux and food web dynamics. In summer 2019 we collected seagrass community data at Echo Cove near Juneau Alaska.
Trends and carrying capacity of sea otters in Southeast Alaska
This project aims to improve the population estimate of sea otters in Southeast Alaska using Bayesian analysis techniques and by incorporating sea otter harvest data. This project is lead by Tim Tinker. I have used my experience with the sea otter harvest data from my Ph.D. to integrate those data into this new population model. You can view the open access article in The Journal of Wildlife Management.
Blue carbon of eelgrass (Zostera marina) meadows in the Pacific Northwest
This project led by Carolyn Prentice aims to synthesize sediment carbon stocks from Oregon to Southeast Alaska. "Blue Carbon" ecosystems, such as mangroves, salt marshes, and seagrasses, have been identified for their potential to store large amounts of carbon. However, detailed information on the magnitude of carbon storage across ecosystems remains sparse. Our analysis characterizes carbon stocks across the Pacific Northwest in eelgrass meadows providing a benchmark for blue carbon stocks in the region. The work has been published in Global Biogeochemical Cycles.
Ocean Bitemap seeks to measure top-down processes (predation) in nearshore ecosystems around the world. I led the Alaska based experiment near Juneau, AK. Results from this global experiment were analyzed by Matt Whalen and in published in PNAS.
Using condition estimates of kelp to infer temporally integrated seawater nutrients
In collaboration with Tom Bell we are trying to use reflectance measurements of mature giant kelp blades in the visible region of the electromagnetic spectrum to estimate tissue nitrogen content. This technique was developed in California and our goal is to see if we can improve it by including data from other regions. This project is ongoing and was made possible by Goetz Instrument Program.
Sea otter - Zostera network
This project led by Brent Hughes aims to combine data on sea otter and eelgrass from across the West coast of the U.S. to look at large scale patterns of sea otter - eelgrass community interactions.