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BOON research Projects > marine communities

Steven Morgan Ph.D.

Steven Morgan, Marine EcologyWe are investigating the effect of ocean conditions on year-class strength of marine invertebrates and fishes and the composition and structure of marine communities. Most marine species spend half their life cycle developing as microscopic larvae in the plankton, where they are susceptible to changes in ocean conditions. We are determining the effect temperature, light and tides on the timing of reproduction, which is critical for the survival of eggs and larvae being released into the water column by parents. We have made large strides in understanding the role of physics and behavior in regulating the transport of larvae between adult habitats and larval nursery areas. Multiple mechanisms regulate larval transport and recruitment to adult habitats, and these processes are identified by changing signatures of water masses (temperature, salinity, chlorophyll, turbidity) flowing through the region as a result of winds and tides. Wind conditions also affect the productivity of the ocean and whether offspring find enough food to survive. We are monitoring the effect of winds on ocean productivity to forecast year class strength of salmon and seabirds. Lastly, we are monitoring annual changes in temperature, oxygen and acidification to understand the effect of climate change on benthic and planktonic communities.