During winter months, a few days after the full moon, thousands of fish make their way to the warm tropical waters off the west coast of Little Cayman, Cayman Island. Nassau Grouper are typically territorial and don’t interact often, but once per year, they gather in the same spot where they all spawn to carry on the tradition of releasing gametes, in the hopes that some of them will develop to adulthood and carry on the population.
Our guest this week is Janelle Layton, a Masters (and soon to be PhD) student in Dr. Scott Heppel’s lab in the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Sciences. Janelle’s research focuses on this grouper, which is listed as near threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Overfishing has been the largest threat to Nassau Grouper populations, but another threat looms: warming waters due to climate change. This threat is what Janelle is interested in studying – how does the warming water temperature affect the growth and development of grouper larvae?
Each winter Janelle travels to this aggregation site in the Cayman Islands, where these large groups of grouper (grouper groups?) aggregate for a few days to reproduce. During this time, she collects thousands of fertilized Nassau Grouper eggs to take back to the lab and study. These eggs will develop in varying water temperatures for 6 days, where each day a subset of samples are preserved for future analysis.
So far, Janelle is finding that the larvae raised in higher temperatures tend to demonstrate not only an increase in mortality, but an increase in variability in mortality. What does this mean? Basically, eggs from some females are able to survive and develop under these stressful conditions better than eggs from other females – so is there a genetic component to being able to survive these temperature increases?
The answer may lie in proteins
Aside from development and mortality, Janelle is investigating this theory by measuring the expression of heat shock proteins in the fertilized eggs and larvae. Heat shock proteins are expressed in response to environmental stressors such as increased temperatures, and can be measured through RNA sequencing. The expression of these proteins might hold the key to understanding why some grouper are more likely to survive than others. Janelle’s work is a collaborative effort between Oregon State University, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, Reef Environmental Education Foundation and the Cayman Islands Department of Environment.
To learn more about Nassau Grouper, heat shock proteins, and what it’s like being a Black woman in marine science, tune into Janelle’s episode this upcoming Sunday, March 12th at 7 PM! Be sure to listen live on KBVR 88.7FM, or download the podcast if you missed it. You can also catch Janelle on TikTok or at her website.
This week we have a Fisheries and Wildlife Master’s student and ODFW employee, Gabriella Brill, joining us to discuss her research investigating the impact of dams on the movement and reproduction habits of the White Sturgeon here in Oregon. Much like humans, these fish can live up to 100 years and can take 25 years to fully mature. But the similarities stop there, as they can also grow up to 10 ft long, haven’t evolved much in 200 million years, and can lay millions of eggs at a time (makes the Duggar family’s 19 Kids and Counting not seem so bad).
Despite being able to lay millions of eggs at a time, the White Sturgeon will only do so if the conditions are right. This fish Goldilocks’ its way through the river systems, looking for a river bed that’s just right. If it doesn’t like what it sees, the fish can just choose not to lay the eggs and will wait for another year. When the fish don’t find places they want to lay their eggs, it can cause drastic changes to the overall population size. This can be a problem for people whose lives are intertwined with these fish: such as fishermen and local Tribal Nations (and graduate students).
The white sturgeon was once a prolific fish in the Columbia River and holds ceremonial significance to local Tribal Nations, however, post-colonialization a fishery was established in 1888 that collapsed the population just four years later in 1892. Due to the long lifespan of these fish, the effects of that fishery are something today’s populations have still not fully recovered from.
Can you hear me now
Gabriella uses sound transmitters to track the white sturgeon’s movements. Essentially, the fish get a small sound-emitting implant that is picked up by a series of receivers – as long the receivers don’t get washed away by a strong current. By monitoring the fish’s journey through the river systems, she can then determine if the man-made dams are impacting their ability to find a desirable place to lay eggs.
Journey to researching a sturgeon’s journey
Gabriella always gravitated towards ecology due to the ways it blends many different sciences and ideas – and Fish are a great system for studying ecology. She started with studying Salmon in undergrad which eventually led to a position with the ODFW. Working with the ODFW inspired her to get a Master’s degree so that she could gain the necessary experience and credentials to be a more effective advocate for changes in conservation efforts that are being made. One way to get clout in the fish world: study a highly picky fish with a long life cycle. Challenge accepted.
To hear more about these finicky fish be sure to listen live on Sunday February 26th at 7PM on 88.7FM, or download the podcast.
This week we have a MS (but soon to be PhD) student from the department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Charles Nye, joining us to discuss their work examining the dietary and environmental DNA of whales. So that begs the question – how exactly does an environment, or a diet, have DNA? Essentially, the DNA of many organisms can be isolated from samples of ocean water near the whales, or in the case of dietary DNA, can be taken from the whales’ fecal matter – that’s right, there’s a lot more you can get from poop than just an unpleasant smell.
Why should we care about what whales eat?
As the climate changes, so too does the composition of creatures and plants in the oceans. Examining environmental DNA gives Charles information on the nearby ecological community – which in turn gives information about what is available for the whale to eat plus what other creatures they may be in resource competition with. He is working to identify the various environmental DNA present to assist with conservation efforts for the right whale near Cape Cod – a whale that they hold as dear to their hearts on the East Coast as the folks of Depoe Bay hold the grey whale to theirs.
By digging into the whale poop to extract dietary DNA, Charles can look into how the whales’ diets shift over seasonal and yearly intervals – and he is doing precisely that with the West Coast grey whales. These dietary shifts may be important for conservation purposes, and may also be applied to studying behavior. For example, by looking at whether or not there are sex differences in diet and asking the ever-important question: do whales also experience bizarre pregnancy cravings?
How does someone even get to study whales?
Like many careers, it starts with an identity crisis. Charles originally thought they’d go into scientific illustration, but quickly realized that they didn’t want to turn a hobby he enjoyed into a job with deadlines and dread. A fortunate conversation with his ecology professor during undergrad inspired him to join a research lab studying intertidal species’ genetics – and eventually become a technician at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.
After a while, simply doing the experiments was not enough and they wanted to be able to ask his own questions like “does all the algae found in a gray whale’s stomach indicate they may actually be omnivores, unlike their carnivorous whale peers?” (mmm, shrimp).
Turns out, in order to study whales all you have to do is start small – tiny turban snail small.
Excited for more whale tales? Us too. Be sure to listen live on Sunday, February 5th at 7PM on 88.7FM, or download the podcast if you missed it. Want to stay up to date with the world of whales and art? Follow Charles @thepaintpaddock on Twitter/Instagram for his art or @cnyescienceguy on Twitter for his marine biology musings.
You probably already know that skim milk and buttermilk are byproducts of cheese-making. But did you know that whey is another major byproduct of the cheese-making process? Maybe you did. Well, did you know that for each 1 kg of cheese obtained, there are about 9 kg of whey produced as a byproduct?! What in the world is done with all of that whey? And what even is whey? In this week’s episode, Food Science Master’s student Alyssa Thibodeau tells us all about it!
Whey is the liquid that remains after milk has been curdled and strained to produce cheese (both soft and hard cheeses) and yoghurt. Whey is mainly water but it also has lots of proteins and fats, as well as some vitamins, minerals, and a little bit of lactose. There are two types of whey: acid-whey (byproduct of yoghurt and soft cheese production) and sweet-whey (byproduct of hard cheese production). Most people are probably familiar with whey protein, which is isolated from whey. The whey protein isolates are only a small component of the liquid though and unfortunately the process of isolating the proteins is very energy inefficient. So, it is not the most efficient or effective way of using the huge quantities of whey produced. This is where Alyssa comes in. Alyssa’s research at OSU is focused on trying to develop a whey-beverage. Because of the small amounts of lactose that are in whey, yeast can be used to ferment the lactose, creating ethanol. This ethanol can then be converted by bacteria to acetic acid. Does this process sound a little familiar? It is! A similar process is involved when making kombucha and the end-product in Alyssa’s mind isn’t too far off of kombucha. She envisions creating an organic, acid-based or vinegar-type beverage from whey.
How does one get into creating the potentially next-level kombucha? Alyssa’s route to graduate school has been backwards, one that most students don’t get to experience. While the majority of students get a degree, get a job and then start a family, Alyssa started a family, got a job, and then went to graduate school. On top of being a single mother in graduate school, she is also a first-gen student and Hispanic. To quote Alyssa: “It makes me proud every day that I am able to go back to school as a single mom. In the past, this would have maybe been too hard to do or wouldn’t have been possible for older generations but our generations are progressing and people are making decisions for themselves.”.
Intrigued by Alyssa’s research and personal journey? You can hear all about it on Sunday, January 29th at 7 pm on https://kbvrfm.orangemedianetwork.com/. Missed the live show? You can listen to the recorded episode on your preferred podcast platform!
Happy Halloween from the ID team! This week we’re chatting about a popular halloweekend beverage: Beer and a “creepy” phenomenon seen in a west coast favorite, IPAs. Hop creep may not mean that there are creepy crawlies in your beer, but it may lead to exploding cans or a beer that’s all trick and no treat. To find out more, we are talking with Cade Jobe on his work on hops maturity and its impact on understanding this spooky problem facing the beer industry.
Cade is a 1st year masters student in the Department of Food Science and Technology at OSU, where he works under the advisement of Dr. Tom Shellhammer. In the “Beer”, or “Hops”, lab there are a wide variety of projects on the various components of beer, in addition to offering resources to the brewing industry by running standard analytical measurements on hops. Cade moved to Oregon in pursuit of joining the Hop Lab, after falling in love with home-brewing and embarking upon a career shift from law to food science. While his master’s work is going to be more focused on the impact of wildfire-smoke on hops, his post-baccalaureate work focused on hop maturity, in particular the Citra hop variety.
How does one study the impact of hop maturity? Cade worked with a hop grower in Yakima, Washington to harvest hops from 3 fields at 7 different time points during the hop picking season. These dried samples were then sent back to Corvallis where they underwent standard hop chemical analysis, sensory analysis, and enzymatic analysis.
This is all great, but how does it help me drink beer? From the chemical analysis, there are standard components that are measured to give an overall hop quality measure to know if it is going to produce the desired result. From sensory analysis, they can see what aromas are associated with the different maturity levels of the hops and what aromas they would impart in beer. Spoiler: late season hops might identify if you are a vampire! And finally, going back to the exploding beer cans, the enzymatic analysis shows the potential of hop creep occurring so that brewers can mitigate the problem.
Want to learn more about the science behind beer and more on Cade’s research into hops? Tune in Sunday, October 30th, 2022 at 7 PM on KBVR 88.7FM (https://kbvrfm.orangemedianetwork.com) or wherever you get your podcasts!
Also, if you’re interested in learning more about the wide-world of brewing, check out Cade on the “BruLab” podcast.
This blog post was written by Jenna Fryer and posted by Lisa Hildebrand.
The overlap between environmental science and social justice are rare, but it has been around since at least the early 1990’s and is becoming more well-known today. The framework of Environmental Justice was popularized by Robert Bullard when his wife, a lawyer, asked him to help her with a case where he was mapping all the landfills in the state of Texas and cross reference the demographics of the people who lived there. Landfills are not the most pleasant places to live next to, especially if you never had the opportunity to choose otherwise. Bullard found that even though Houston has a 75% white population, every single city-owned landfill was built in predominantly black neighborhoods. The environmental hazards of landfills, their emissions and contaminated effluent, were systematically placed in communities that had been – and continue to be – disenfranchised citizens who lacked political power. Black people were forced to endure a disproportionate burden of the environmental hazards, and procedural justice was lacking in the decision making process that created these realities. Unfortunately, this is not a unique situation to Houston, or Texas, because this pattern continues today.
Environmental justice is an umbrella term that we cannot fully unpack in a blogpost or a single podcast, but it is fundamentally about the injustices of environmental hazards being forced upon disadvantaged communities who had little to no role in creating those hazards. This is not a United States-specific issue although we do focus on state-side issues in this episode. In fact, some of the most egregious examples occur in smaller and lesser known countries (see our episode with Michael Johnson, where his motivation for pursuing marine sciences in graduate school is because the islands of micronesia where he grew up are literally being submerged by the rising seas of global warming). The issues we discuss are multifaceted and can seem impossible to fix. But before we can fix the issues we need to really understand the socio-political-economic ecosystem that has placed us exactly where we are today.
To begin to discuss all of this, we have Chris Hughbanks who is a graduate student at Oregon State and one of the Vice Presidents of the local Linn-Benton NAACP branch and a member of their Environmental and Climate Justice committee (Disclaimer: Adrian is also a branch member and part of the committee). We begin the discussion with a flood in Chris’ hometown of Detroit. Chris describes how they never really had floods because when precipitation occurs it’s usually either not that much rain or cold enough for it to snow instead. Because it hardly rains that much, very few people have flood insurance. But that pesky climate change is making temperatures warmer and precipitation events more intense than ever before causing flooding to occur in 2014, 2016, 2019, and 2020. As you might guess, the effects of this natural disaster were not equally shared by all citizens of Detroit. We discuss the overlap between housing discrimination and flood areas, how the recovery effort left so many out to [not] dry.
We end the episode with ways to get involved at the local level. First, consider learning more about the Linn-Benton NAACP branch, and the initiatives they focus on to empower local communities. Vote, vote, vote, and vote. Make sure you’re registered, and everyone else you know is registered to vote. And recognize these problems are generations in the making, and it will take just as long to fully rectify them. Finally, I am reminded of an episode interviewing millennial writers about what it means to be born when global warming was a niche research topic, but to come of age when climate change has become a global catastrophe. They rightfully point out that there are a myriad of possibilities for human salvation and sacrifice for every tenth of a degree between 1.5 and 3.0°C of warming that is predicted by the most recent 6th edition of the IPCC report. As grim as our future seems, what an awesome task for our generations to embark upon to try and “create a polity and economy that actually treats everybody with dignity, I cannot think of a more meaningful way to spend a human life.”
If you missed the show, you can listen to this episode on the podcast feed!
Additional Reading & Podcast Notes
The Detroit Flood – We mentioned the NPR article reporting that 40% of people living in Detroit experienced flooding, how black neighborhoods were at higher risk to flooding, and that renters (who are disproportionately black) were nearly twice as likely to experience flooding compared to those who owned their homes. We also mentioned a map of Detroit, showing which areas are more at risk of flooding. Another local article described how abnormal that summer in Detroit and the surrounding areas were compared to other years.
We listed a number of Environmental Justice links that include:
Dumping in Dixie, the 1990 book written by Robert Bullard which is considered essential reading for many law school courses on environmental justice.
We listed the organizing principles of the modern environmental justice movement, first codified in 1991 at the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit
A story near Los Angeles where mixed-use city zoning laws allowed industrial businesses to operate near residential areas, causing soil lead pollution that was unknown until Yvette Cabrera wrote her own grant to study the issue. Read her story in Grist: Ghost of Polluter’s Past that describes the immense efforts she and researchers had to go through to map soil lead contamination, and how the community has used that information to generate positive change for the community.
Environmental [in]justice afflicts the global south as well, where a majority of forest loss since the 1960’s has occurred in the tropical regions of the world.
Adrian mentioned a number of podcasts for further listening:
Two past Inspiration Dissemination episodes with Holly Horan on maternal infant stress in Puerto Rico and her experience conducting research after Hurricane Maria, and Michael Johnson who one of his motivation to go to graduate school was because where he grew up – Micronesia – has been feeling the rising seas of climate change long before other countries.
A deep investigative journalism podcast calledFloodlines about the events leading up to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and what happened after (or, what should have happened).
We returned to the fact that housing is central to so many injustices for generations. The Color of Law: A forgotten history of how our government segregated America by Richard Rothstein is a historical analysis of the laws and policies that shaped today’s housing patterns. One example Rothstein often cites is the construction of freeways purposefully routed through black communities; recently one developer accidentally said the quiet part out loud in explaining where a gas pipeline was routed because they choose “the path of least resistance“. We also mentioned that in 2019 and in 2020, Corvallis has ~37% of its residents being rent burdened (meaning households spend more than 50% of their income on rent), which is the worst city in the state over both years. You can also read about a California Delta assessment that focuses on agricultural shifts in the region due to land erosion and flooding, but they mention how current flood risk is tied to historical redlining.
Have you ever considered that a virus that eats bacteria could potentially have an effect on global carbon cycling? No? Me neither. Yet, our guest this week, Dr. Holger Buchholz, a postdoctoral researcher at OSU, taught me just that! Holger, who works with Drs. Kimberly Halsey and Stephen Giovannoni in OSU’s Department of Microbiology, is trying to understand how a bacteriophage (a bacteria-eating virus), called Venkman, impacts the metabolism of marine bacterial strains in a clade called OM43.
Bacteria that are part of the OM43 clade are methylotrophs, in other words, these bacteria eat methanol, a type of volatile organic compound. It is thought that the methanol that the OM43 bacteria consume are a by-product of photosynthesis by algae. In fact, OM43 bacteria are more abundant in coastal waters and are particularly associated with phytoplankton (algae) blooms. While this relationship has been shown in the marine environment before, there are still a lot of unknowns surrounding the exact dynamics. For example, how much methanol do the algae produce and how much of this methanol do the OM43 bacteria in turn consume? Is methanol in the ocean a sink or a source for methanol in the atmosphere? Given that methanol is a carbon compound, these processes likely affect global carbon cycles in some way. We just do not know how much yet. And methanol is just one of many different Volatile Organic Carbon (VOC) compounds that scientists think are important in the marine ecosystem, and they are probably consumed by bacteria too!
All of this gets even more complicated by the fact that a bacteriophage, by the name of Venkman, infects the OM43 bacteria. If you are a fan of Ghostbusters and your mind is conjuring the image of Bill Murray in tan coveralls at the sound of the name Venkman, then you are actually not at all wrong. During his PhD, which he conducted at the University of Exeter, part of Holger’s research was to isolate the bacteriophage that consumes OM43 bacteria (which he successfully did). As a result, Holger and his advisor (Dr. Ben Temperton, who is a big Ghostbusters fan) were able to name the bacteriophage and called it Venkman. Holger’s current work at OSU is to try and figure out how the Venkman bacteriophage affects the metabolism of methanol in OM43 bacteria and the viral influence on methanol production in algae. Does the virus increase the bacteria’s methanol metabolism? Decrease it? Or does nothing happen at all? At this point, Holger is not entirely sure what he is going to find, but whatever the answer, there would be an effect on the amount of carbon in the oceans, which is why this work is being conducted.
Holger is currently in the process of setting up experiments to answer these questions. He has been at OSU since February 2022 and has funding to conduct this work for three years from the Simons Foundation. Join us live on Sunday at 7 pm PST on 88.7 KBVR FM or https://kbvrfm.orangemedianetwork.com/ to hear more about Holger’s research and how a chance encounter with a marine biologist in Australia set him on his current career path! Can’t make it live, catch the podcast after the episode on your preferred podcast platform!
Did you know humans have the ability to “taste” through smelling? Well we do, and it is through a process called retronasal olfaction. This fancy sounding term is just some of the ways that food scientists, such as our guest speaker this week, recent M.S. graduate and soon to be Ph.D. student, Jenna Fryer studies how flavors, or tastes through smell, are understood and what impact external factors have on them. Specifically, Fryer looks at the ways fires affect the flavors of wine, a particularly timely area of research due to the recent wave of devastating wildfires in Oregon.
Having always been interested in food science, Fryer examines the ways smoke penetrates wine grapes. She does this by studying the ways people taste the smoke and how they can best rid the smokiness in their mouths, because spoiler, it has a pretty negative impact on the flavor. This research has forced her to develop novel ways to explain and standardize certain flavors, such as ashiness and mixed berry, as well as learn what compounds are the best palate cleansers. She will continue this research with her Ph.D. where she plans to figure out what compounds make that smoky flavor, and how best to predict which wines will taste like smoke in the future.
Through this work, Fryer has made some fascinating discoveries, such as how many people can actually detect the smoke flavor (because not everyone can), how best to create an ashy flavor (hint, it has to do with a restaurant in the UK and leeks), why red wine is more affected by smoke than white wines, and what the difference is between flavor and taste.
Tune in live at 7pm on Sunday April 24th or listen to this episode anywhere you get your podcasts to learn about Fryer’s research!
And, if you are interested in being a part of a future wine study (and who wouldn’t want to get paid to taste wine), click on this link to sign up!
Water resources in the western United States are at a turning point. Droughts are becoming more common and as temperatures rise due to climate change more water will be needed to sustain the current landscape. The ongoing issues in the Klamath River Basin, a watershed crossing southern Oregon and northern California, are a case-study of how the West will handle future water scarcity. Aside from the limited supply of water, deciding how to manage this dwindling resource is no easy feat. Too much water has been promised to too many stakeholder groups, resulting in interpersonal conflict, distrust, and litigation. Our guest this week is Hannah Whitley, a PhD Candidate of Rural Sociology at Pennsylvania State University and a Visiting Scholar in the School of Public Policy at Oregon State University. Hannah grew up on a beef ranch in a small southwestern Oregon town, so she knows some of these issues all too well. Hannah is investigating how governance organizations work together to allocate water in the Upper Klamath Basin and how to tell the story of what water means to different stakeholder groups. By observing countless hours of public meetings, having one-on-one conversations with community members, and incorporating a novel research method called photovoice, she hopes to understand what can make water governance processes successful because the current situation is untenable for everyone involved.
How we got here
Prior to the 1800s-era Manifest Destiny movement, the area known today as the Upper Klamath Basin was solely inhabited by the Klamath Tribes (including the Klamath, Modoc, and Yahooskin-Paiute people). At the time, Upper Klamath Lake was at least four times its original size, and c’waam (Lost River suckers) and koptu (shortnose suckers) thrived in abundance. The 1864 Klamath Treaty, ratified in 1870, officially recognized the Klamath Tribes as sovereigns in the eyes of the federal government. Treaties are especially powerful arrangements with the federal government, akin to international agreements between nations. These agreements are generally considered to be permanent laws, or at least that’s what the tribes were told.
As part of the conditions of the Klamath Tribes Treaty, tribes retained hunting, fishing, and water rights on 1.5 million acres of land, but ceded control of 22 million acres to the federal government. Those expropriated lands were given to westward settlers who took advantage of 1862 Homestead Act. The 1906 Reclamation Project drained much of Upper Klamath Lake, leaving behind soils that are nutrient dense and thus highly valuable. An additional homesteading program associated with the 1902 Reclamation Act prioritized the allocation of reclaimed federal land to veterans following World War I (there is ongoing litigation on whether these settlers have water rights as well, or just land rights). These land deeds have been passed onto families over time, though many mid-twentieth-century homesteaders opted to sell their land during the 1980 Farm Crisis.
The Klamath Tribes’ unceded lands were not contested during the intervening years. In the mid-1950s, however, the U.S. government used the 1954 Termination Act to nullify the Klamath Tribes’ 1864 Treaty. Although the Klamath tribes were “one of the strongest and wealthiest tribal nations in the US,” one result was the loss of the tribes’ remaining land and management rights. In 1986, their status as a federally-recognized tribe was restored, however, no land was returned. Soon after the Klamath Tribes were federally recognized (again), two species of fish that only spawn in the Upper Klamath Lake area were listed as endangered species. This provided both the c’waam and koptu fish species new legal protections, though they have always had significant cultural significance for the Klamath Tribes.
Where are we now
The Klamath River Basin is said to be one of the most complicated areas in the world due to the watershed’s transboundary location and the more than 60 different parties who have some interest in the Basin’s water allocation, including federal agencies, the states of California and Oregon, counties, irrigation districts, small farmers, large farmers, ranchers, and tribal communities. The Klamath Tribes play an active role in the management of water Basin-wide, although final governance decisions are made by state and federal agencies including the Bureau of Reclamation, Fish and Wildlife Service, and state departments of environmental quality.
Currently, the Upper Klamath Basin is occupied by multi-generation farmers and ranchers on lands that are exceedingly favorable for agricultural production. Some families have accumulated significant portions of land since the 1900s while others are still small-acreage farmers. As a result of farm consolidations that resulted from economic distress during the twentieth-century, many families had overwhelming success in purchasing adjacent and nearby land parcels as they were sold over the last hundred years. The result is that these few well-resourced families have disproportionate control of the area’s agricultural and natural resources compared to smaller-scale farms.
There are a variety of crops under production such as potatoes for Frito-Lay, Kettle Foods and In-N-Out Burger, as well as peppermint for European teas, and alfalfa used to feed cattle in China and the Willamette Valley. Regardless of the crop, as temperatures have risen and drought conditions worsen, Basin farmers and ranchers need more water each and every season. And it’s typically the more established farms who have a bigger say in how Upper Basin water (or lack thereof) and drought support programs are managed, regularly leaving smaller farms frustrated with decision-making processes. In addition to the seasonal droughts keeping lake levels low, stagnant water, summer sunshine, and nutrient runoff contribute to algae proliferation in the Upper Basin that decreases the survival rate of the endangered fish. Unfortunately, there is simply not enough water to continue with the status quo.
How are we moving forward
How do you balance all* of these competing interests through a collaborative governance model? (*We haven’t even mentioned the dams, or the downstream Yurok and Karuk tribes relying on water for salmon populations, the Ammon Bundy connection, or the State of Jefferson connection, read the multi-part series in The Herald for a deeper dive.) There needs to be a process where everyone is able to contribute and understand how these decisions will be made so they will be accepted in the future. Unfortunately, little research has been done in this area even though the need for new climate adaptation policies are increasingly in demand.
This is ongoing work that Hannah Whitley is conducting for her dissertation; how are stakeholders engaged in water governance? What are the different effects of these processes on factors like interpersonal trust, perceptions of power, and participation in state-led programs? The theory of the case is that if everyone’s voice is heard, and their concerns are addressed as best they can given limited resources, the final agreement may not completely satisfy all parties, but it’s an arrangement that is workable across all stakeholders.
Hannah has been conducting field work since September that includes observing public meetings, interviewing stakeholders, and diving into archives. Hannah attended an in-person farm tour in September. During lunch, one Upper Basin stakeholder inquired about the feasibility of conducting a photovoice project similar to what Hannah did for her Masters thesis work with a group of women farmers and gardeners in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The photovoice project allows individuals to tell their own stories through provided cameras with further input through collaborative focus groups. We will talk about this and so much more. Be sure to listen live on Sunday January 23rd at 7PM on 88.7FM or download the podcast if you missed it! Follow along with Hannah’s fieldwork on Instagram at @myrsocdissertation or visit her website.
This post was written by Adrian Gallo and edited by Hannah Whitely
“I always loved science class and science questions, and I went to science camps – but as a kid I didn’t really put it together that being a scientist was a career or something other than sitting at a microscope in a lab coat,” Our guest this week, Dr. Samara Haver, has come a long way from not realizing the myriad of careers in science when she was a child. She now works as a marine acoustician, researching underwater soundscapes and ocean noise to understand the repercussions for marine ecosystems and animals, such as humpback and blue whales.
Samara is a recent graduate from Oregon State University (OSU) having completed both her Masters and PhD in the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Sciences (FWCS). She is continuing at OSU as a postdoctoral scholar in FWCS, where she is advised by Dr. Scott Heppell and works within the OSU/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Cooperative Institute for Marine Ecosystem and Resources Studies. Her dissertation research focused on underwater recordings from 12 diverse and widespread marine habitats in U.S. waters. Data from each site was recorded by stationary hydrophone (underwater microphones), a calibrated array collectively named the NOAA/National Park Service Ocean Noise Reference Station Network (NRS). The NRS is an ongoing multi-agency collaborative effort to record underwater sound throughout the U.S. to understand about the differences and similarities of soundscapes in U.S. waters, and provide information to managers about protected species. The 12 locations are deployed along west and east coasts of the U.S., as well as in the northern and southern hemispheres, and includes locations within U.S. National Marine Sanctuaries and U.S. National Parks. One of the primary objectives of this highly collaborative and nation-wide comparison was to quantify comparable baselines of ocean noise in U.S. waters. When the NRS was first established, there weren’t any other U.S. research groups collecting passive acoustic data in these widespread locations using identical time-aligned recorders. Thus, the NRS provided new and comparable information to NOAA and the NPS about the levels and sources that contributed to underwater sound.
Hence, Samara’s PhD research revolved around analyzing the recordings from the 12 NRSs to explore several questions regarding differences in U.S. soundscapes, including baleen whale presence which she was able to identify by their unique vocalizations. Many marine animals, including baleen whales, evolved to rely on sound as their primary sensory modality to survive in the dark environment of the ocean. Unlike humans, who rely heavily on sight, whales must find food, communicate, navigate, and avoid predators using sound. However, the ocean has become a noisy place, primarily because of increased anthropogenic (human-caused) activity, such as shipping, marine construction, and seismic surveys, to name a few. To best understand how noise is affecting the life history of baleen whales and their habitats, we need to understand how loud the ocean is, how much noisier it’s getting, and what is generating the noise.
Samara has become an expert in characterizing and understanding ocean soundscapes, uncovering a lot about the differences and similarities in U.S. soundscapes. To hear about what exactly she learned during her PhD and what management implications her results have on protected species and habitats, tune in on Sunday, November 7th at 7 PM on KBVR 88.7 FM, live stream the show, or download Samara’s episode on Apple Podcasts!
Don’t want to wait until then? You can check out Samara’s publications on her GoogleScholar or follow her on Twitter!