Bodega Marine Lab undergraduate students Michael Brito and Kenzie Pollard just won first prize for their short film, submitted to the 2020 UC Davis Research Rockstars Undergrad Slam Video Contest! Michael and Kenzie made their video as part of their independent research project last summer during the Coastal Marine Research (BIS 124) class at the laboratory, working under the guidance of Eric Sanford.
The video, titled "New-dibranch: The Great Northern Migration" centers around the change in species ranges occurring as a result of climate change. The students were able to get hands-on experience conducting fieldwork and research at the Bodega Marine Laboratory.
As global temperatures warm, the geographic ranges of many species have moved polewards to higher latitudes. However, we know little about how these shifting species influence resident species after they arrive in new communities. One of the most intense marine heatwaves on record occurred along the west coast of North America from 2014 to 2016. Among the many organisms observed to shift northward along the California coast with this ocean warming was a nudibranch (or “sea slug”) with the scientific name Phidiana hiltoni. This species is known to be an aggressive predator on other nudibranchs in tidepools. After observing an increased number of this nudibranch in Bodega Bay, we conducted a laboratory experiment to test whether the presence of this predator influences the feeding rates and behavior of other resident nudibranchs. Our results suggest that a continued increase in this southern nudibranch might have negative impacts on some of the local nudibranchs. As the state of our climate becomes more dire and marine heatwaves increase in frequency the impact of the northern migration of southern species will become more prevalent and could harm communities of coastal animals.