In this Newsletter...

We feature current research, events and outreach activities at SDSU's Coastal and Marine Institute Laboratory.

In This Issue:

  • Caution: Invader!
  • Events
  • Photo of the Month
  • Shout Outs
  • About the Authors
  • Sally the Scientist
  • Support MEBSA

Marine Science Day- March 13 at CMIL, SDSU's marine lab.
Photo of the Month:

This month MEBSA students, Tracey Grimes (pictured) and Julia Ledbetter, visited the Living Coast Discovery Center to participate in an outreach event with YMCA students. These students spent the night learning about kelp forest food webs and the consequences of losing important predators (Photo by Julia Ledbetter).

Shout Outs!


Congratulations to Miranda Brett, Robert Dunn, Matthew Haggerty, Julia Ledbetter, Shelby Rhinehart, Sadie Small, and Genoa Sullaway for receiving the COAST Graduate Student Research Award. 
(SDSU authors in bold)

Dunn, Robert P. 2016. Tool use by a temperate wrasse, California sheephead, Semicossyphus pulcher. Journal of Fish Biology 88: 805-810.

Morton, Dana N., Tom W. Bell, and Todd W. Anderson. 2016. Spatial synchrony of amphipods in giant kelp forests. Marine Biology, 163(2): 1-11.

Renick, V.C., K.L. Weinersmith, D.E. Vidal-Dorsch, and T.W. Anderson. 2016. Effects of a pesticide and a parasite on neurological, endocrine, and behavioral responses of an estuarine fish. Aquatic Toxicology 170: 335-343.

Renick, V.C., T.W. Anderson, S.G. Morgan, and G.N. Cherr. 2015. Interactive effects of pesticide exposure and habitat structure on behavior and predation of a marine larval fish. Ecotoxicology 24 (2): 391-400.

About the Authors:

Sadie Small
Sadie grew up in the southern California desert, but moved to San Diego to attend UCSD and has been living here ever since. Sadie developed a love of seaweed and benthic ecological research while working in the Dayton laboratory at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Sadie is now a Master's candidate in the Edwards Kelp Forest Ecology Lab at SDSU.

Genoa Sullaway  
Growing up around San Diego's diverse marine habitats helped cultivate Genoa's love for the ocean. However, a high school class in marine biology instilled her desire to combine science and her love for the ocean. Genoa got her B.S. in Biology at California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo and is now a Master's candidate in the Edwards Lab at SDSU. 

Sally the Scientist

Statistics Sally loves significant results! Here Sally helps M.S. student Kate McDaniel analyze some of her data. 
(Photo: Kate McDaniel)

Click here to print your own Sally. Send in a picture of you and Sally exploring!  Every month we showcase our favorite Sally picture in our newsletter.
Support MEBSA

Our entire budget comes from donations and grants. If you would like to make a contribution to Marine Science outreach in San Diego, CA, please click here to donate. We greatly appreciate it! 

Caution: Invader!

Investigating the invasive algae, Sargassum horneri, in Southern California

By Sadie Small and Genoa Sullaway 
Picture a healthy garden. You may think of carefully tended flowers and a variety of plants that produce delicious vegetables. A gardener puts a lot of effort into this healthy garden to keep out certain weeds. These weeds can harm the other plants by sucking up water and nutrients, or by taking up space so that other plants don't have room to grow.

Weeds also exist in the sea. A species of recent concern is an invasive seaweed called Sargassum horneri (=S. filicinum) that has arrived in Southern California.

       A field of adult S. horneri at Catalina Island, Channel Islands (Source: G. Sullaway). 
This alga likely traveled from its native habitat in Japan to the U.S. West Coast via cargo ship ballast waters. Interestingly, the alga was first found on a dock in the international shipping port of Long Beach Harbor in 2003. Since then it quickly spread to the CA Channel Islands and to Baja, Mexico!
As indicated by the orange markers in the above map, S. horneri has been documented in Southern California and Baja, Mexico. (Source: S. Small)

Why has it spread so quickly?

As humans travel around the world, they spread invasive species to new habitats. However, only some of these species end up persisting in the new habitat and threatening native communities. 

Like invaders in a garden, S. horneri has many “weedy” characteristics that help it colonize and dominate new habitats. For example, it grows more quickly than native algae species; in just one year, this annual species can grow from being microscopic in size to 10 feet tall. To top it off, S. horneri may be able to self-fertilize, so a single rogue alga can start a whole population! These traits have contributed to the rapid invasion of S. horneri. 
Current Invasive Species Research at the SDSU CMIL

Sadie, a Master's student in the Edwards Lab and the CMIL student manager, studies the invasibility of S. horneri by examining its responses to different environmental conditions.

Specifically, she looks at how different temperatures, salinities, nutrient concentrations, and light levels affect growth and photosynthesis of S. horneri. Sadie conducts laboratory experiments to see if these responses differ among algae from different locations, or during different parts of their life cycle.

This environmental tolerance information can be used by management agencies to understand and predict the spread of this species.

Genoa, a Master's student in the Edwards Lab, studies how S. horneri affects native algae species. These native algae species are important because they provide habitat for many invertebrate and fish species and contribute to coastal primary production. She examines how this invasion, and the related change in native algae, may alter the amount of photosynthesis, or primary production that occurs in these near shore algae-dominated habitats.

Researchers at CMIL and other institutions are discovering that when S. horneri invades a new ecosystem, it takes advantage of open space on the seafloor and starts growing quickly. This disturbs the natural relationships between native algae, fish, and invertebrates. Over the course of an invasion, it appears that native algae species die off and the environment becomes dominated by S. horneri.

Research by CMIL students will help us understand the important factors that influence species invasions in near shore habitats, as well as the magnitude of their effects on ecosystem services.


Author: Sadie Small and Genoa Sullaway. Contact Sadie and Genoa at or find them on Twitter: @subtidalsadie and @genoasully.

Copyright © 2016 Coastal and Marine Institute Laboratory, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
4165 Spruance Rd.
San Diego, CA 92101
Genoa H. Sullaway, Editor
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