Subtidal reefs

While the Raimondi-Carr Lab has worked extensively in both kelp forest and coral reef ecosystems, most of our current work is in temperate kelp forests.

Kelp forest ecosystems are among the most productive and species rich ecosystems on Earth. Because of their biodiversity, productivity and close proximity to shore, they support a variety of ecosystem services, including commercial and recreational fisheries, recreation, carbon sequestration and protection of shorelines. Our lab conducts research in kelp forest ecology, fish ecology, physiology, evolution, and modeling. We work along the entire Californian coastline as well as in Baja, Mexico, and in Oregon and Washington, and focus on the major themes below.



Community Ecology

We have been examining the community ecology of fish in kelp forests in relation to nearshore oceanic conditions, species interactions and patterns of recruitment. These subtidal interaction studies are focused near the same core set of study sites that form the basis of the PISCO program. This approach enables researchers to tap into the valuable information about trends in the coastal ocean and link experimental results with understanding about broad ecological patterns. Ecological interaction studies in the subtidal are often performed as part of monitoring and research programs focused on: predator-prey interactions, competition, recruitment, and population dynamics.

Josh Smith:

Casey Sheridan:

Rachel Zuercher: Seasonal resource pulses and shifts in kelp forest trophic interactions: variation in nearshore rockfish diets in relation to juvenile rockfish recruitment

Kendra A. Karr: Pattern, mechanisms and community consequences of variation to a biogenic habitat

Brenna Mahoney: Within-region spatial and temporal variations in habitat-forming macro-algae: consequences to associated invertebrate and fish communities

Katy Kunkel: Distangling effects of algal habitat structure on invertebrate abundance and diversity

Jared Figurski: Patterns and sources of variation in drift algae and the ecological consequences for kelp forests


Fish Ecology

We conduct studies on fish settlement, recruitment, movement, and distribution.

Martha Burford: the adult population structure and the structure of a new year-class within Sebastes mystinus (blue rockfish) and Sebastes atrovirens (kelp rockfish) over multiple temporal and spatial scales


Social-ecological Systems

Rachel Zuercher: Social and ecological dynamics of the commercial nearshore fishery in central California.

Roy Qi: Delineating appropriate boundaries for regional management of California nearshore reef-associated fish species as a coupled social-ecological system




Sarah Tepler – Kelp and Carbon: Pathways and Barriers to Acquisition and Transport

Pete Raimondi works on the survival physiology of Macrocystis pyrifera spores, as well as their dispersal
dynamics up and down the coast. He has investigated their swimming speeds,
longevity, and the impacts of self-fertilization on sporophyte fitness.

Melissa Foley used stable isotope analyses to trace the uptake of nutrients by Macrocystis pyrifera from terrestrial and upwelling sources over time in Big Sur.

Diana Steller worked on the effect of temperature on photosynthesis, growth and calcification rates of the free-living coralline alga Lithophyllum margaritae as well as the subtidal coralline alga Calliarthron cheiliosporioides.



Mark Morales: Development and application of a coupled biophysical individual-based model of the early life stages of rockfishes of the California Current Ecosystem.

Roy Qi: Development of a synthetic framework for the design of regional fisheries management as a coupled social-ecological system

Ellen Willis-Norton:

Rodrigo Beas-Luna: Development and application of mass-balanced ecological network models for kelp forest ecosystems