Trainees will formulate interdisciplinary research projects that benefit from the involvement of at least two faculty mentors with active research programs based at the Estuary & Ocean Science (EOS) Center (formerly the Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies (RTC)). Our faculty have expertise in areas such as climate change, ocean acidification, marine environmental physiology, wetland restoration, impacts of sea level rise, invasive species, estuarine food webs, nutrient and phytoplankton dynamics, population genetics, marine mammal and sea bird conservation, conservation and marine protected areas, benthic-pelagic nutrient cycling, oceanography, carbon biogeochemistry of marine sediments, and marine spatial planning and ecology.
What controls the exchange of waters between estuaries and the coastal ocean? How do winds, waves, tides and river runoff affect these exchanges? How do coastal and estuarine circulation affect the transport of sediments, oxygen, nutrients, fish and invertebrate larvae, pH, and pollutants? How is climate change impacting the dynamics of coastal ecosystems?
Marine Spatial Ecology and Endangered Species
When you see a whale, a seal, a seabird, or a shark does that indicate you are looking at a healthy ecosystem, or are these predators just passing through? Marine megafauna such as marine mammals, seabirds, sharks and turtles may also dramatically influence the kinds and numbers of plants and animals that live in the marine ecosystems where they spend time.
Oysters and Water Quality
What happens to water quality when you remove an oyster farm from a bay? Oysters strain microscopic algae out of the gallons of water they filter every day. A single oyster can filter as much as 50 gallons a day. A unique opportunity to answer this question emerged when about 5 million cultured Pacific oysters were removed from Drakes Estero in California.
Crashing Waves & Baby Sea Urchins
Many ocean creatures send their planktonic babies, or larvae, into offshore waters to grow and develop while they also look for a home. Yet the sea is vast and the dangers are many! There is only a very slim chance that a larva will find its way to a place it can call home and safely transform into an adult. For larvae whose adult forms live on wave-exposed rocky shores, the survivors will be those that seize the rare opportunity to transition to adult life when the conditions are right. How do they figure this out?