The core of PISCO research is a long-term sampling program integrated with studies of ocean climate with population and community experimental studies in the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem.
Within the coastal ocean, we focus on kelp forests and the rocky intertidal which have proven to be model communities for both experimental and theoretical studies.
Researchers coordinate studies over a range of spatial scales to examine the causes and consequences of ecological changes relevant to marine populations and conservation.
One of the greatest challenges for conservation biologists is to unravel the causes of changes in biological communities. All conservation efforts in the nearshore environment, such as the design of marine protected areas and fisheries management decisions, are crucially dependent on understanding these ecological dynamics.
PISCO's goal is to increase understanding of the causes and consequences of ecosystem change. We use interdisciplinary approaches to investigate:
- Species distributions and interactions: where fish, invertebrates, seaweeds and seagrasses live; how abundant they are; how they interact; and the underlying causes for these ecological patterns.
- Population replenishment and connectivity: how ocean circulation affects the dispersal of marine organisms in their youngest stages of life, called “larval stages”; how populations are connected by larval dispersal processes.
- Coastal dynamics: how currents, upwelling, hypoxia, ocean acidification and other physical and ecological processes affect marine plants and animals.
- Oceanic climate: how the coastal ecosystem responds to changes in water temperature, currents, and other factors associated with climate change and ocean acidification.
- Marine ecosystem responses to management: how coastal ocean ecosystems respond to changes in management, such as implementation of marine protected areas and adjustments to fisheries rules.