ocean health, Photo Credit: David Slipher

Natural and anthropogenic stressors, such as climate change, disease or toxicants, can have widespread effects on ecosystem processes. Research at the Bodega Marine Laboratory (BML) traces the effects of physiological and embryonic impairments to population and community level outcomes, and focuses on many species economically important to California fisheries (e.g., oysters, abalone, herring and salmon). BML researchers study the effects of classic contaminants as well as pollutants of emerging concern such as chemicals from plastics and personal care products. Disease studies are made possible by BML’s state-approved pathogen containment facilities.

BML researchers in toxicology, ecology, oceanography and veterinary science work together to develop a better understanding of the “zone of impact” of polluted runoff. Whether large outflows from bays, river plumes or small-volume discharge from urban drains, the impact on the ecosystem is greatest near the source and then decreases in the direction of water flow, decreasing at a rate largely determined by mixing of polluted waters with offshore ocean waters.