The Gulf Watch Alaska program was prominently featured in the 2018 Kachemak Bay Science Conference from March 7 to 10 in Homer, Alaska. The Kachemak Bay Science Conference is a forum for presenting scientific and traditional ecological knowledge relevant to Kachemak Bay and its surrounding coasts and waters to foster an informed community of environmental researchers, educators, and decision-makers. The theme of this conference was “Science without Borders: Working across disciplines, boundaries, and barriers”, which aimed to provide new information and syntheses to the broad community interested in and working on related issues.
The conference kicked-off with Gulf Watch Alaska’s own program lead and collaborating researcher, Mandy Lindeberg, as the plenary speaker. Mandy linked many aspects of her 25 year career conducting research along the Alaska coast to cross-discipline and boundary science. In particular, she spotlighted the Gulf Watch Alaska program’s unique ecosystem-level approach to undertaking large scale, multidisciplinary, integrated and long-term monitoring in Alaska. In her talk, she explained the benefits of long-term ecosystem monitoring to improving our understanding of how climate variations can drive bottom-up changes in marine food webs, affecting fish, seabirds, marine mammals, and intertidal organisms.
Gulf Watch researcher Katrin Iken talk about long-term changes in Kachemak Bay intertidal communities.
Principal investigators from the Gulf Watch Alaska program authored five oral presentations and two posters at the conference. Presentations covered topics focused on climate and oceanography, ecosystem perspectives, and lower trophic levels in the Kachemak Bay environment. Further, Gulf Watch Alaska program partners, Axiom Data Science and the Alaska Ocean Observing System, hosted a half-day workshop focused on data access through web-based portals. Collaborating scientists, Kris Holderied and Mandy Lindeberg, hosted a separate NOAA portal work session focused on Gulf of Alaska data, and Gulf Watch Alaska principal investigators provided an underwater tour of Kachemak Bay. To hear an audio recording of the plenary talk, listen here.
The following presentations and posters were presented by Gulf Watch Alaska researchers.
o Science Without Borders – is it possible?. (Plenary talk) Mandy Lindeberg, NOAA/NMFS Auke Bay Laboratories
o Heating up and cooling off in Kachemak Bay Alaska –what does it mean for the marine ecosystem? Kris Holderied, NOAA Kasitsna Bay Laboratory
o Ecosystem variability in lower Cook Inlet across trophic levels, space, seasons, and climate regimes, Martin Renner, Tern Again Consulting
o A summary of some results from Gulf Watch Alaska monitoring in Kachemak Bay, Katrin Iken, University of Alaska Fairbanks
o Trends in intertidal sea star abundance and diversity across the Gulf of Alaska: effects of sea star wasting, Brenda Konar, University of Alaska Fairbanks
o Environmental factors affecting toxic phytoplankton in Kachemak Bay, Dominic Hondolero, NOAA Kasitsna Bay Laboratory
o Can you dig it? Patterns of variability in clam assemblages within mixed-sediment habitats across the Gulf of Alaska, Benjamin Weitzman, USGS Alaska Science Center
o Gulf Watch Alaska: Taking the Pulse of the Northern Gulf of Alaska, Robert Suryan, NOAA/NMFS Auke Bay Laboratories
o Nearshore food web structure in two contrasting regions of Cook Inlet, Danielle Siegert, University of Alaska Fairbanks
The science conference appealed to a diversity of researchers, educators, decision-makers, and interested members of the Homer community.