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Multiple Stressors and Abalone Populations

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Eastern boundary current systems, including the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem (CCLME), routinely experience upwelling driven low pH, low dissolved oxygen (DO) waters, with the magnitude and duration of these events increasing over the past decade. With funding from the National Science Foundation Ocean Acidification Program, we are studying the consequences of ocean acidification and other climate-related changes (DO, temperature) on near shore marine communities in the CCLME. This work allows us to better anticipate possible ecological and fishery impacts due to increasing frequency and intensity of low pH and low DO events and help to inform adaptation strategies. We utilize an individual- to population-level approach to investigate how the effects of ocean acidification on abalone, in combination with low DO and changing temperatures, will manifest at the population level, and ultimately, the services these species provide to humans. We are pursuing this goal by 1) measuring and characterizing the temporal variability of pH, DO and temperature in nearshore abalone habitat in Monterey Bay, Central California, and Isla Natividad, Mexico and using hydrodynamic modeling to predict future changes in these regimes, 2) conducting laboratory experiments to investigate the effects of multiple stressors on the reproductive success, growth, calcification, and survival of juvenile abalone, and 3) developing demographic and bio-economic models to estimate the impacts of environmental and local anthropogenic stressors on the resilience of abalone populations and to assess what management and conservation strategies, including marine reserves, may contribute to buffering the negative effects of climate change.