Carol Anne Blanchette

Marine Science Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106 |
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Collaborations & Projects

Due to the large spatial and temporal scales of many of the questions of interest in my research I have formed many great collaborations with scientists around the world. I enjoy the exchange of ideas and perspectives that occurs when several people tackle a common research problem, and I have a keen interest in continuing to pursue these sorts of projects. I am actively involved in many research consortiums and have many productive collaborations with individual scientists.

Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans (PISCO)


I am the science coordinator for the PISCO group at UCSB. PISCO was funded by the Packard Foundation and is intended to address long-term, large-scale marine ecological questions within a framework of conservation. PISCO is a large-scale marine research program that focuses on understanding the nearshore ecosystems of the U.S. West Coast. An interdisciplinary collaboration of scientists from four universities (Oregon State University, UC-Santa Cruz, UC-Santa Barbara, Stanford). PISCO integrates long-term monitoring of ecological and oceanographic processes at dozens of coastal sites with experimental work in the lab and field. PISCO's findings are applied to issues of ocean conservation and management, and are shared through our public outreach and student training programs. I have been responsible for a range of projects within PISCO and establishing core elements of the research program. These include new long-term monitoring programs for intertidal and subtidal community structure, design and implementation of process-oriented experiments and development of standardized protocols for the collection and storage of data and metadata. The guiding research theme of PISCO is to understand the interaction of the nearshore oceanographic environment with coastal marine communities along the West Coast of North America. This includes quantifying patterns of distribution, abundance and diversity of the biota in nearshore ecosystems, and determining how ecological, evolutionary and oceanographic processes influence these patterns.

Ocean Margins Group for Ecosystem Studies (OMEGAS)


Ocean acidification has the potential to change the world's ocean and coastal ecosystems. By bringing together researchers with diverse expertise across disciplines and institutions, OMEGAS seeks to meet society's demands for scientific information on ocean acidification across the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem (CCLME). Interdisciplinary collaborations across institutions focus research to determine how ocean acidification affects marine organisms, populations, and ecosystems. A centerpiece of OMEGAS work is a platform of long-term monitoring sites across a wide geographic range of the US West Coast. From this platform, novel research methods are used to address complex ecological questions and develop predictive tools. We measure how sea water chemistry changes over time and across geographic areas and determine if marine organisms are able to acclimatize and/or adapt to the present and predicted future levels of ocean acidificaiton. This work was initiated by a new award from the National Science Foundation and is part of OMEGAS' long-term vision for a cutting-edge scientific program to answer the significant questions of how changing ocean chemistry will affect health of marine ecosystems.

Math Science Partnership (MSP)

LTER sites

Math Science Parntership - Targeted Partnership: Culturally relevant ecology, learning progressions and environmental literacy Driven by an environmental science literacy framework around learning progressions within core science and mathematics concepts complemented with citizenship, this targeted partnership connects the research and education prowess in the environmental sciences of universities and sites within the NSF-funded Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network with teacher professional development in science and mathematics of partner middle schools and high schools. The project extends across the nation, involving five LTER research sites and 22 K-12 schools/districts with direct impacts on over 250 science and mathematics teachers and 70,000 students of highly diverse backgrounds. The work focuses on coupled human-ecosystem interactions in the context of socio-ecological systems as a framework to develop a culturally relevant ecology from both a scientific and educational perspective.

Coastal Biodiversity Survey

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Intertidal Community Sampling at Santa Rosa Island

The Coastal Biodiversity Survey is a large-scale research project conducted by a group from University of California Santa Cruz called the SWAT Team. The Survey was designed to measure diversity and abundance of algal and invertebrate communities living on the rocky intertidal, western coast of temperate North America. This study is unprecedented in size and scale. To date we have surveyed over 90 sites ranging from Glacier Bay, Alaska to Punta Abreojos, Baja California Sur. We plan to resurvey sites every three to five years to extend the surveys into a continuing monitoring project. Our goal is to be able to detect ecological shifts within and among sites along much of the west coast of North America. Pete Raimondi at UCSC and I have organized, trained and set loose an extremely enthusiastic group of young samplers who are now so good at what they do they can train us. See the SWAT website for more info on the program and the people.

Multi-Agency Rocky Intertidal Network (MARINe)

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Some of the MARINe group at Santa Cruz Island

Scientists from Federal, State, and local government agencies, universities, and private and volunteer organizations have formed a Multi-Agency Rocky Intertidal Network (MARINe) to monitor important shoreline resources. The network is currently being supported by 23 organizations. Sites are monitored from San Luis Obispo County to San Diego County on the mainland and offshore Channel Islands. Key rocky intertidal habitats and species are sampled every fall and spring using a variety of methods. Mussels, seastars, abalone, surfgrass, acorn and goose barnacles, and several algal species, such as rockweed and turfweed, are among the key species and habitat types studied. The sites provide excellent geographic coverage as they are spaced along the mainland approximately every 10 to 15 miles and along key intertidal benches on the islands. The information generated by monitoring is used by the various agencies and organizations to assess environmental effects, manage natural resources and aid coastal planning efforts. Continuous monitoring provides resource managers with early warnings of abnormal conditions, allowing for the possibility of reduction of environmental effects. One of MARINe's goals is to develop a data management system so all members have easy access to this long-term dataset and more comprehensive evaluations can be made. I have been a member of the science panel of the MARINe group for the last five years and collaborate with MARINe scientists regularly.

International Consortium for Research on Upwelling Marine Biogeographic Areas (ICORUMBA)

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Upwelling and phytoplankton blooms around the South African coast

The International Consortium for Research on Upwelling Marine Biogeographic Areas is a group of scientists from around the world focused on understanding the connections between the nearshore biological communities and offshore oceanographic regimes. The main goal of the Consortium will be to expand and improve our knowledge about the nature and strength of the links between nearshore oceanographic processes and benthic population and community dynamics, by fostering comparative inter-continental studies in upwelling ecosystems of the world. The consortium is funded by the Mellon Foundation. The Consortium includes scientists in California (Steve Gaines and myself at UCSB), Oregon (Bruce Menge and Jane Lubchenco), Chile (Sergio Navarrete and Evie Wieters), New Zealand (Dave Schiel) and South Africa (George Branch). We are actively involved now in bringing together data and people from the different regions in an attempt to answer broad scale questions using our respective datasets.

Santa Barbara Coastal Long Term Ecological Research Program (SBCLTER)

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The Santa Barbara Channel region

The SBCLTER is housed at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) and is part of the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network. The LTER Program was established by the NSF in 1980 to support research on long-term ecological phenomena. The SBC became the 24th site in the LTER network in April of 2000. The primary research objective of the SBC LTER is to investigate the relative importance of land and ocean processes in structuring giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) forest ecosystems. Giant kelp forests are located at the land-ocean margin in temperate regions of both the northern and southern hemispheres, and represent one of the most productive ecosystems in the world. We actively collaborate with many of the SBCLTER scientists and share many of the same datasets.

University of California Natural Reserve System (UCNRS)

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Field crew at west end of Santa Cruz Island

The University of California Natural Reserve System (UCNRS) is a unique assemblage of protected wildland sites throughout California. Its reserves encompass nearly all of the state's major ecosystems, preserved in as undisturbed a condition as possible to support University-level research and teaching programs. Several of our regular field sampling sites are part of the UCNRS system. These include Santa Cruz Island, Rancho Marino and Coal Oil Point. Check out a video about our PISCO research at Coal Oil Point.

Santa Barbara Channel Keeper (SBCK)

photo by Rydgig
SBCK eelgrass restoration project at Anacapa Island

The mission of the Santa Barbara Channel Keeper is to protect and restore the Santa Barbara Channel and its watersheds through enforcement, citizen action, and education. They do a great deal of education and environmental monitoring ranging from stream surveys to kelp and eelgrass restoration. I am collaborating directly with Jessica Altstatt (Program Director) of the SBCK to restore eelgrass beds at Santa Cruz Island in places where they have been wiped out due to a variety of causes ranging from physical damage to altered community-wide trophic interactions.

ICE (Interdisciplinary Coastal Ecology) Research Team

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Kristen Kusic sampling at La Chorera, Baja Norte

The mission of the ICE (Interdisciplinary Coastal Ecology) Research Team is the research team of Dr. Lydia Ladah at the Centro de Investigaciòn Científica y de Educaciòn Superior de Ensenada (CICESE). We have an active collaboration with the ICE team through the UC MEXUS program. This is an effort to link US and Mexican scientists to pursue collaborative research. The I.C.E. research team focuses on the ecology, physiology, and genetics of benthic marine populations, specifically ecosystems of kelps and seagrasses, and their interactions with other benthic organisms. Our team is interested in understanding the response of communities at their distributional limits to disturbances such as El Nino conditions, global climate change, hurricanes, and human induced fishing pressures. Our goal is to link similar studies in Mexico and Southern California to evaluate processes regulation populations and communities bounded at both ends by major biogeographic boundaries.

The Outreach Center for Teaching Ocean Science (OCTOS)


The Outreach Center for Teaching Ocean Science (OCTOS) is designed to be a state of the art nature education facility that will provide focused learning about the marine environment of the Southern California Bight with an emphasis on the Santa Barbara Channel and Channel Islands ecosystems. The goal of OCTOS is to inspire environmental stewardship of our ocean resources through education and conservation. OCTOS is a collaborative project between the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) and NOAA’s Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary (CINMS). The OCTOS building will be located on the UCSB campus between the Marine Science Institute (MSI) and the CINMS headquarters. Combining the strengths and leadership of UCSB and NOAA, OCTOS will be one of the foremost marine science nature education centers on the West Coast, unique in its ability to combine cutting-edge, real time research with the educational programming expertise of MSI and CINMS. Additionally the synergy of these two major institutions, and an on-campus location, provides long-term sustainability for OCTOS. As a LEED™ Gold building, OCTOS will provide a model of sustainable design with exhibits that highlight the green design features and demonstrate ways that visitors can reduce their own energy use and environmental impacts. The location of OCTOS on a coastal bluff overlooking the ocean, and surrounded by native coastal landscaping, encourages visitors to learn about California coastal ecosystems.

Center for Marine Assessment and Planning (CMAP)

Example of spatial planning in Southern CA

The Center for Marine Assessment and Planning (CMAP) unites activities at UCSB related to science, policy, management, use and conservation in the oceans. These activities share a goal of pursuing effective and efficient ways to sustainably use and protect our marine ecosystems. CMAP's overarching mission is to 1) facilitate interdisciplinary work that bridges undergraduate to faculty-level research, 2) engage resource users and management practitioners in the pursuit of science-based solutions, and 3) address local, national, and international issues.

The New Media Studio (TNMS)

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Screenshot from the Global Ocean Data Viewer

Emerging media and informatics resources and technologies create unprecedented opportunities to bring forefront digital information to the public. The New Media Studio (TNMS), a non-profit organization, works to realize this potential. To this end, TNMS actively pursues its goals through a range of activities, including the provision of media production services, the distribution of digital educational products, and the development of innovative digital tools for public use. TNMS creates and operates many projects using not only grants but also investments and strategic partnering with educational, scientific and industry organizations. Drs. Allison Whitmer, Vishna Herrity and myself (all of UCSB) are collaborating with Dr. Bruce Caron of TNMS on a project funded by NASA to develop educational software to help students and educators easily and wisely incorporate data-rich activities into scientific education.