Funded Projects Spring 2013

Spring 2013 Funded Projects

Projects Funded: 14

Total Amount Distributed: $63,103.00

Project: Reef Check California

Total Amount Distributed: $10,830.00

Reef Check California (RCCA) is a community-based monitoring program dedicated to conserving California’s rocky reef ecosystem.  At UCSB, RCCA trains students in reef monitoring protocols.  Students then participate in RCCA’s annual surveys along the Santa Barbara coast and Channel Islands.  The students’ data is used by the MPA Monitoring Enterprise to inform the baseline monitoring of marine protected areas in southern California, by the Department of Fish and Wildlife and by leading marine scientists.  Funds will support staff, training and surveys, providing UCSB with increased opportunities for immersion learning, field experience, and active engagement in marine management processes in California.

 

Project: Fracking: Strengthening California’s Safety Net

Total Amount Distributed: $9,995.00

Hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) has become one of California’s most visible environmental issues, and is being utilized in the Monterey Shale underlying UCSB and much of the Central Coast. Local areas that have been fracked include coastal Ventura County, northern Santa Barbara County, and offshore platforms in the Santa Barbara Channel. EDC is pursuing multiple strategies to address fracking at the federal, state, and local level.

 

Project: Kids in Nature Peer to Peer Environmental Education Program

Total Amount Distributed: $9,320.00

 Five undergraduate students will be selected to serve as Kids in Nature (KIN) interns during fall quarter 2013.  The interns will have successfully completed the Education Practicum course (EEMB 189/ES 191), which has been have offered each quarter since 2008.  The KIN interns will serve as mentors for the newly enrolled UCSB students and also for the over 90 5th grade students who are part of the KIN program.  The interns will each lead one of the KIN groups of 4-5 students in classroom activities and on field trips.

 

Project: Devereux Urban Forester Intern Education Project

Total Amount Distributed: $5,900.00

Goleta Valley Beautiful will continue its commitment to training, and educating student interns, and to provide necessary replacement equipment at the Devereux Growing grounds. In learning to grow and care for GVB’s 2,000 trees native trees (500 of which are planted in public areas within the Goleta Valley each year), their interns acquire knowledge and skills applicable to careers in horticulture, urban forestry, and other environmental sectors. Furthermore, GVB’s efforts to grow native trees, plant trees in public spaces, and promote public awareness as to trees’ important role in maintaining a healthy environment benefits the larger Goleta and UCSB community as a whole

 

Project: The Peregrine Story

Total Amount Distributed: $1,436.00

The creation and presentation of an educational program that inspires and motivates students and community members to get involved in nature conservation.  Focusing on Coastal Peregrine falcons between San Luis Obispo and Ventura County plus the Channel Islands, the program will tell the story of the Peregrine’s near extinction and successful re-introduction into California by dedicated and innovative falconers, biologists, and students from the University of Santa Cruz, and the Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group.  This program will be presented to three groups of 30 students at three local Boys & Girls Clubs.  The PowerPoint presentation itself along with a live Peregrine falcon will be available as a stand-alone fee-based program for general audiences afterwards.

 

Project: Santa Barbara Restoration Project Data Base II

Total Amount Distributed: $6,300.00

The goal of the project is to create an on-line geographic resource, which identifies restoration projects in southern SB County and describes their scope, size and the sources for plant material. There are several goals: 1) to centralize information so that future seed and plant collectors will know where to collect certain species to avoid collecting seeds where source is uncertain or known to have a non-local source;  2) to map restoration projects around coastal Santa Barbara County in a natural resource context, and 3) to create a lessons-learned report that will be valuable for regulators and practitioners to ensure that local projects are done in the most efficient and mindful ways in regard to natural resource preservation.  This project aims to document 20 additional projects in this follow-up effort and build on the baseline of 10 projects previously funded to complete the inventory and create a mechanism for new projects to be incorporated into the database and a web-based public archive accessible to a wide audience.

 

Project: Restoration Intern Training Program Fall 2013 & Winter 2014

Total Amount Distributed: $3,600.00

CCBER provides the opportunity for student interns to participate in CCBER restoration work in multiple sites and habitats from the Campus Lagoon Dune and Bluff restoration to Storke Wetland. Eligible students have generally participated in CCBER’s Restoration Ecology Field Skills Class (ES95) in which CCBER Staff provide three or four options for three-hour training sessions per week for a quarter-long internship focused on a range of relevant restoration skills.

 

Project: The Consequences of Fishing-Induced Changes in Predator Size Structure for Predator-Prey Interactions and the Preservation of Kelp Forest Ecosystems

Total Amount Distributed: $7,360.00

The removal of predators by fishing has caused cascading effects in marine food webs. However, fisheries not only reduce predator density but also remove the largest individuals. Because body size determines what a predator can eat, reductions in predator size may result in the same functional loss of predation as removal, but this effect has rarely been considered. This project examines the consequences of shifts in size distributions of an urchin predator, CA sheephead, for mortality rates on sea urchins in local kelp forest ecosystems, and compares the effects of shifts in size distributions relative to reductions in predator density.

 

Project: Protecting Local Marine Habitats from the Invasive Asian Kelp, Undaria pinnatifida, Through Integrated Pest Management

Total Amount Distributed: $4,237.00

Invasive species continue to have detrimental impacts on ecosystems worldwide. The goal of this project is to engage students in the exploration of integrated pest management for control of the non-native invasive Asian kelp, Undaria pinnatifida, which poses a threat to marine habitats off UCSB and coastwide. The objectives include: 1) documenting the distribution of Asian kelp in the Santa Barbara Harbor, 2) correlating the distribution of mussels (Mytilus spp.) with Asian kelp abundance, 3) testing whether the kelp crab, Pugettia producta, may be a useful biocontrol agent and 4) evaluating whether limpets, Lottia spp., may be useful biocontrol agents

 

Project: Characterizing and Contrasting Soils of Invaded, Native, and Restored Coastal Sage Scrub Ecosystems

Total Amount Distributed: $325.00

This project explains how soils change as different communities of plants develop on them.  It focuses on comparing the differences in soil characteristics such as pH (base-richness), soil fertility (NPK) and soil structure (organic content) across a series of sites.  The target ecosystem to be studied in this project is a coastal sage scrub ecosystem.  Therefore soil samples from a relatively undisturbed coastal sage scrub system, an invaded coastal sage scrub system, and a restored coastal sage scrub system (of at least 5 years) will be collected for analysis and compared to quantify the differences in the soil and how the plants may have affected the soils.  Ideally samples will be collected from at least 2 different sites of each coastal sage scrub restoration condition in order to produce replication and provide more precise results.  At least 5 samples will be taken from each individual site.

 

Project: Watershed Restoration Internship

Total Amount Distributed: $900.00

South Coast Habitat Restoration is a local non-profit that is dedicated to environmental stewardship and habitat restoration. They focus efforts on preserving and restoring habitat for the endangered southern steelhead trout.  This project will provide students with the opportunity to participate in an internship position.  The interns will assist with the implementation of a variety of watershed restoration projects including: fish passage improvements, bank stabilization projects, non native removal, and maintenance and monitoring of project sites, under the guidance and supervision of SCHR staff. Additionally interns will be involved in community outreach and education at local festivals and volunteer events with SCHR. This work will focus on projects that restore stream habitat for the endangered southern steelhead trout throughout Santa Barbara County’s coastal streams. Interns will learn about native flora and fauna and be introduced to the process of project implementation including: planning, permitting, construction, native re-vegetation etc. The interns will work roughly 8 hours a week for 10 weeks over Fall 2013 Quarter.

 

Project: Isla Vista Surfrider Ocean Friendly Gardens Project

Total Amount Distributed: $900.00

 In order to make a powerful difference in the Isla Vista and Goleta communities, Surfrider is developing an Ocean Friendly Gardens project. This campaign sets an example in the community to inspire future projects that help to prevent runoff and harmful herbicides from reaching the ocean. IV Surfrider proposes the idea of using 100% native plant species and as well as organic compost and mulch. In addition to being a certified Ocean Friendly Garden, this garden will also serve as habitat to the monarch butterfly. All plants have been selected to provide a nectar source and most importantly, the garden will include milkweed for the butterflies in their larval stage.

 

Project: Investigating the Changes in Buoyancy of Giant Kelp Fronds of Different Ages

Total Amount Distributed: $1,000.00

The goal of the project is to measure the change in buoyancy of fronds of differing age classes, and to assess nutritional content of these fronds via chemical analysis.  This project will measure the buoyancy of fronds of various ages by dissecting and measuring the total gas volume of giant kelp pneumatocysts, the part of the plant responsible for floating the frond in the water column.  Combining this buoyancy data with oceanographic current data, and estimates of primary productivity should provide information to estimate the amount of giant kelp that is exported to different adjacent ecosystems.

 

Project: Assessing pH Variability on the Santa Barbara Coastline and the Subsequent Effects on Invertebrate Recruitment Dynamics

Total Amount Distributed: $1,000.00

This research project aims to observe the natural variability of pH along a stretch of the UCSB coastline, and how this variability affects the community structure of recruiting calcifying invertebrates. Research shows that anthropogenic activities continually increase levels of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere (Herr et al. 2012). Thus far, the ocean sequesters up to thirty percent of these emissions, thereby lowering the pH in a process termed ocean acidification (Sabine et al. 2004). If carbon dioxide emissions continue to increase at present rates, oceans are expected to become more acidic in the next fifty years than at any point in the last twenty million years, with largely unpredictable consequences to marine communities (Hauri et al. 2013). Currently, research points to deleterious effects on many calcifying organisms, such as urchins and mussels, which play vital roles in maintaining the diversity of the coastal waters (Sabine et al. 2004). The California Current System has a naturally low pH making it extremely susceptible to these changes (Hauri et al. 2013). To persist, organisms here will inevitably need to adapt to these changes. However, there is a lack of understanding as to how specific species are affected by the current natural pH variability. The aim of this project is two-fold: (1) Characterize near-shore pH variability in the Santa Barbara Channel and (2) Link pH variability with biodiversity of recruiting invertebrates.