California Polytechnic University, California Sea Grant
We conduct lab and field studies to evaluate how human disturbance and environmental variability affect persistence and recovery of marine systems, and how we can manage complex systems for long term sustainability. We use results to inform management and conservation policies locally and globally. The lab focuses on kelp forest and estuary ecosystems in California. Dr. O'Leary also conducts work on MPA management in East Africa (see about J. O'Leary) in collaboration with the Kenya Wildlife Service and Tanzanian Marine Parks Authority.
CURRENT RESEARCH PROJECTS:
Causes and Consequences of Eelgrass Decline in Morro Bay
This is a working group with other Cal Poly faculty looking at why eelgrass has declined so dramatically in Morro Bay and what factors are impeding restoration efforts. We are evaluating biological, physical, and historical data. The O'Leary Lab is helping develop the field monitoring program with the Morro Bay National Estuary Program, and is conducting field data collection on grazing, competition, and epifauna communities. We may be accepting a graduate student to work on this project for Fall 2016 (with field experience and statistical skills in R or Matlab). Co-PI: Ryan Walter, Physics, Cal Poly.
Effects of seastar loss on intertidal communities
We are working with 3 other California Universities (Stanford, UC Davis, and Humboldt State) to conduct long term field surveys of how intertidal communities change in the absence of seastars and during seastar population recovery from the 2013-14 wasting disease. The O'Leary Lab is contributing to the this state-wide study, and also looking at changes associated with seastar loss in the presence and absence of human trampling and harvest. The local public radio station recently reported some of our findings: http://kcbx.org/post/star-fish-population-rebound-along-west-coast
Abalone Recruitment Dynamics
We are assessing recruitment dynamics of red abalone (Haliotis rufescens) and the abundance of abalone settlement substrate (crustose coralline algae) in Northern and Central California. We are evaluating the timing of larval settlement and how distribution and abundance of abalone affect recruitment rates. We are collaborating with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to inform management efforts of the important red abalone recreational fishery. (Co-PI Laura Rogers-Bennet, CADFW)
We are developing novel meta-genomic techniques to allow rapid assessment of recruitment from numerous small and spatially explicit field samples. Co-PIs Steve Palumbi, Bryan Barney: Stanford University)