California is one of 25 global hotspots of biodiversity that encompass 1.4% of the Earth’s surface but account for 60% of the world’s species. Researchers study the area from San Francisco to Point Arena, a stretch of coastline known for the complexity of its marine and terrestrial environments and the global prototype of coastal upwelling areas. Local habitats at the Laboratory are particularly diverse. Researchers study seagrass beds, mudflats, coastal prairie, dunes, sandy beaches, subtidal and rocky intertidal communities. Researchers explore these habitats to tease apart the complex relationships among terrestrial and marine organisms – from the neural pathways of behavior to community structure shaped by predator and prey.
Invasive species are a leading cause of declines in biodiversity and the productivity of ecosystems worldwide. Bodega Marine Laboratory (BML) is a primary field site for invasive species research at UC Davis, a leading institution for invasion biology in the United States. BML scientists find novel and effective approaches for the control of invasive species through better understanding of community interactions and ecological theory. The Laboratory supports access to two of the best-studied marine environments for invasive species in the world, Bodega Harbor and San Francisco Bay. Further, BML researchers are at the forefront of using oceanographic data to better understand and quantify the dispersal of larvae in coastal upwelling ecosystems. In particular, hourly maps of surface currents obtained from an array of HF radar stations have proved invaluable in the assessment of connectivity between nearshore adult habitats. Oceanographers and ecologists at BML work closely to develop an integrated view of larval ecology.