Coastal Oceanography in the Santa Barbara Channel

Coastal Oceanography

The Santa Barbara Channel is embedded within the California current system, which includes the cool nutrient-rich southward-flowing California current to the north west, the warm oligotrophic Southern California Current flowing poleward from the South, and the inshore Southern California Counter Current. Seasonal upwelling in the Santa Barbara Channel provides nutrients that stimulate regular phytoplankton blooms of diatoms and other micro phytoplankton. The upwelling and predictable biological response makes the Santa Barbara Channel a unique location to examine microbial interactions with dissolved and particulate organic matter.

Although the Santa Barbara Channel is a coastal environment the DOM concentrations are generally < 70 µM C and < 6 µM N. These concentrations are typical of oceanic values and are significantly less than concentrations found in systems dominated by estuarine and riverine inputs. This relatively low "background" DOM signal allows us to resolve small temporal and spatial changes in bulk DOM and its chemical constituents rather easily. The diversity in nutrient and trophic states experienced in the Santa Barbara Channel make it an ideal model system for examining the factors that control organic matter partitioning between DOM and POM, the chemical character of each pool and the bioavailability of DOM to microbes during the growth and demise of diatom blooms. Here we examine the production and consumption of DOM and the bacterioplankton communities that respond to these dynamics.

Researchers

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My research interests are shaped by an interdisciplinary blend of marine microbial ecology, microbiology and ocean biogeochemistry.

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I am currently an Associate Specialist, responsible for curating DOM and microbial datasets, overseeing day-to-day operations in the lab, and facilitating fieldwork on the variety of projects ongoing in our lab group.

Despite being invisible to our naked eyes, bacteria are instrumental to sustaining human and global health, having roles that range from bolstering our immune defenses to recycling carbon and energy worldwide. I am intrigued by the way marine bacteria govern the movement and distribution of nutrients throughout the ocean basins via their interactions with dissolved organic matter (DOM); I am interested to know the extent to which these microscopic interactions between bacteria and DOM influence both regional and global carbon cycling and sequestration.
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My research interest lies at the interaction between marine microbial processes and ocean carbon biogeochemistry. I am specifically interested in the role of increased partial pressure of carbon dioxide on microbial processes and selection of its community structure.

I am a sea-going technician responsible for the collection and analysis of dissolved organic matter from a number of coastal and open ocean sites, including participation in the US CLIVAR Repeat Hydrography Program.

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My research focuses on the interactions between marine bacterioplankton community ecology and DOM biogeochemistry, and how both of these are shaped by ecosystem-level factors, both biotic and abiotic.