Dr. Robert Spies, marine biologist, and Tim Bray, geologist, host a new segment of the Ecology Hour focusing on the science of ecology, on the fourth Tuesday of each month. For the inaugural episode of our show, we spoke with Dr. William Sydeman of the Farallon Institute, about the marine ecosystem off the Mendocino coast. Click here to hear the April 22, 2014 Ecology Hour full show recording
We learned about the large-scale marine currents in the Pacific, how they influence the local currents along the California coastline, and how climate change might be affecting that system. Dr. Sydeman told us about the dramatic difference in productivity of the food chain depending on whether it is based on diatoms or dinoflagellates, and how El Nino and/or climate change can affect which one dominates in a given year. We also learned that another large El Nino event is developing and may affect the marine environment off California – and the weather onshore – next year.
It was a fascinating discussion, full of scientific details presented in accessible language, and sometimes challenging our assumptions about the effects of climate change on ecosystems. Dr. Sydeman’s final thoughts were that all environmental change produces “winners and losers” in the sense that some species benefit while others are impaired – so whether such change is “good” or “bad” depends on where you are in the ecosystem.
Dr. Sydeman is the son of the composer and KZYX programmer Jay Sydeman (Mind of the Composer). He is an excellent radio guest and we hope to have him with us again in the future.