Global Change Biology in a Variable Ocean
My research aims to tackle strategies for local management of global ocean change in order to improve sustainable use of marine resources. Coastal marine ecosystems experience a wide range of environmental conditions. How such environmental variability shapes species responses to ocean change is the basis of my research. This requires an interdisciplinary approach harmonizing techniques from oceanography and ecophysiology. Research projects often include oceanographic time series, construction of laboratory mesocosms, marine invertebrate larvae, and various physiological techniques. See recent projects below.
Biology & sustainability
Using oceanographic data, my biological research addresses the question: Does exposure to environmental variability influence the sensitivity, or shape the adaptive capacity, of marine species to ocean change? My aim is to use this research to inform approaches for sustainable management of marine resources and ecosystems.
MUSSEL AQUACULTURE: My current research is focused on the impact of diel pH variability on the early development of an economically important mussel. For this project, I constructed an ocean acidification mesocosm where diel pH cycles are controlled. Part of this project included methods development for Durafet pH sensors for laboratory use (Kapsenberg et al., in press). Stay tuned for results or follow the project's facebook page
SEA URCHIN FERTILIZATION: On the west coast of the United States, strength and frequency of upwelling events influences local pH regimes, whereby some sites experience less pH variability compared to others. In a recent paper, we found that urchins from sites with frequent low pH exposures also exhibited a wider pH tolerance than those from sites of more stable pH (Kapsenberg et al. 2017, Ecology & Evolution).
GLOBAL CHANGE: Time-series are critical for documenting ocean change. Our research from the Mediterranean Sea reveals an ocean acidification rate of -0.0028 units pHT in addition to warming and increases in total alkalinity (Kapsenberg et al. 2017, Ocean Science). These trends occur on top of strong seasonal changes.
SEASONAL CYCLES: Seasonal cycles in pH and temperature differ drastically across latitudes. While summer pH is low in the Mediterranean Sea due to warming, summer pH in coastal Antarctica is high due to phytoplankton blooms that increase pH during the period of 24 h day-light (Kapsenberg et al. 2015, Scientific Reports).
LOCAL CONDITIONS: At any given coastal location, pH variability may be influenced by seasonal changes, event-scale effects, and diel processes, all of which have physical and biological drivers. For California's northern Channel Islands, satellite imaging with ocean sensors from three islands revealed why different islands experience different pH regimes. Each pH regime was driven by local biota, wind stress, phytoplankton blooms, and water mass movement (Kapsenberg and Hofmann 2016, Limnology and Oceanography).
Research is funded by U.S. National Science Foundation, University of California Santa Barbara, National Park Service, Southern California Research and Learning Center, Sea-Bird Electronics, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management