In this Newsletter...

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

In this issue:

  • Going with the Flow
  • Photo of the Month
  • Event: Marine Science Day
  • About the Author
  • A day in the Life
  • Why biology is awesome
  • Shout outs
  • Sally the Scientist
Photo of the Month:
Sally the Scientist helps Dr. Jeremy Long set up an experiment in the rocky intertidal. These cages prevent predators from eating the algae and snails inside. This "caging experiment" will help Dr. Long study the effect of predators on marine communities.

Shout outs!


Emily Jones received the Jordon D. Covin Memorial Scholarship and the Graduate Student Travel Fund

Robert Dunn accepted into the NSF Graduate Research Internship Program
Sponsoring Agency: Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Bocas del Toro, Panama
Co-PI: Dr. Andrew Altieri
Project Title: Can depauperate predator communities limit coral reef recovery from algal dominance through a trophic cascade?

MEBSA received $6000 from the SDSU Student Success Fee to enhance our Marine Science Seminar Series. Check out our seminar schedule!

(SDSU Authors in bold)

Oczkowski, A., C. Thornber, E.E. Markham, R. Rossi, A. Ziegler, and S. Rinehart. 2014. Testing sample stability using four storage methods and the macroalgae Ulva and Gracilaria. Limnology and Oceanography  Methods.

In press. M.C.N. Castorani and K.A. Hovel. Invasive prey indirectly increase predation on their native competitors. Ecology. [PDF]

About the Author
I grew up in Utah and Idaho, but have always wanted to be a marine biologist. When I attended the University of Oregon (GO DUCKS!), I finally got the opportunity to study marine systems. As an undergraduate, I spent a year researching on the coast of Oregon in Coos Bay, where I studied the invertebrates that live in the shallow subtidal zone of Cape Arago. Now I am at SDSU where I study estuarine systems with Dr. Brian Hentschel.
Why is being a biologist awesome?
Biology allows me to be the curious person that I am. My favorite part about the scientific process is puzzling out what my data are telling me about my study system. Working at CMIL allows me to work with many other world-class scientists, giving me access to a wealth of knowledge about our marine systems! 

Sally the Scientist
Sally the Scientist helps Nick collect worms at The Tijuana RIver National Estuarine Research Reserve.

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! 

Going with the Flow

Predators & Prey Respond to Estuary Impacts
By Nick Hayman, M.S. Candidate

Estuaries are special habitats. They support a high diversity of life and perform important ecosystem services like water filtration. But because estuaries are in close proximity to human populations, these habitats and the services they provide are threatened.

In San Diego, humans have affected estuaries by modifying the shape of their tidal channels, altering the natural flow of water through these habitats. Agricultural use of pesticides and herbicides can also disturb estuaries because these chemicals travel downstream and accumulate in estuarine water and sediments.


MEBSA member exhibit at High Tech Fair
Fieldwork: Nick and his undergraduate assistant Jared use a sieve to find worms at the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve.

I am studying how human activities affect predator-prey relationships in estuaries. Specifically, I am testing how water flow speed and an insecticide, chlorpyrifos, change the feeding behavior of the California killifish and a small, tube dwelling worm.
Nick Hayman, M.S. student at SDSU, presents his research on estuarine ecosystems to the scientific community.
The Laboratory Flume: This experimental setup allows Nick and the Hentschel lab to explore the effects of flow speed on estuarine organisms.

Water flow can dramatically alter how successfully fish can grab their worm prey. Think about trying to grab a shiny rock on the bottom of a fast flowing stream; it takes so much effort to maintain your position that it is difficult to snatch the stone. Grabbing stones is much easier in a calm stream.

The worms are "interface feeders," meaning they use different feeding strategies in high and low water flow. During high flow, worms extend their palps (feeding structure) into the water column and during low flow they spread their palps over the sediment looking for food particles.

I have discovered that fish exposed to an insecticide are lousy hunters and feed less. Exposed worms also feed less and spend more time withdrawn in their tube burrows.

My goal is to better understand these effects so that we can restore and manage these critical habitats.


A California killifish attacks a small, tube dwelling worm during Nick’s experiment. Notice the palps (the feeding structure of the worm) sticking out of a tube to the right of the fish attack. 

A day in the life...
I spend most of my time collaborating with other researchers, trudging through the beautiful salt marshes around San Diego, and inspiring the next generation of marine scientists! I spend long days running flume trials, protein activity assays, and writing up my results. I am also a co-leader of MEBSA, so I spend a lot of time planning science outreach events in San Diego, including Marine Science Day March 15th!

Author: Nick Hayman, M.S. Candidate & MEBSA Co-Chair, contact at


Visit CMIL for Marine Science Day!

Habitats & Humanity: Exploring San Diego's Coastal Ecosystems

Ever wonder what goes on inside a marine research laboratory?  Join us for the Coastal and Marine Institute Laboratory’s 4th annual Marine Science Day!
  • Free event for all ages & backgrounds
  • Interactive activities about coastal habitats in San Diego County 
  • Research talks by students & faculty
  • Marine life touch tank & SCUBA gear demonstrations
  • Check out our video from last year's event!

Download our flyer here!
Copyright © 2015 Coastal and Marine Institute Laboratory, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
4165 Spruance Rd.
San Diego, CA 92101
Sarah G. Wheeler, Editor
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