Fossils as a Tool for Marine Restoration: Old Shells Provide New Insights For Santa Monica Bay

UCLA La Kretz Center’s 9th Annual Lecture

One of the great challenges in conservation biology is discovering ‘what was natural’ before human impacts. This problem is especially pressing in marine systems where biological monitoring and other records are brief or lacking. Dr. Susan Kidwell has been tackling this problem in our Southern California marine ecosystems by treating the shells acquired during marine surveys as a young fossil record to reveal the dramatic, unsuspected changes in species composition and abundance that have occurred across much of our region. This reconstructed history of the last few thousand years highlights the profound transformation of seafloor communities in response to ~300 years of shifting land-use in the Los Angeles watershed, providing a powerful tool that can help set priorities for restoration.

Dr. Kidwell’s lecture was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Mark Gold (UCLA Associate Vice Chancellor for Environment and Sustainability and Past President of Heal the Bay). Mark was joined on stage by ocean conservation leaders and UCLA alumni Dr. Chad Nelson (CEO, the Surfrider Foundation), Dr. Craig Shuman (Marine Regional Manager, California Department of Fish and Wildlife) and Dr. Shelley Luce (President and CEO of Heal the Bay) for a lively discussion and audience
Q & A.