Drivers Of Ecosystem Resilience: Toward A Predictive Understanding Of Hypoxia's Impacts On Nearshore Fisheries And Ecological Communities (2012-14)

Francis Chan
Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans (PISCO)
Department of Zoology
Oregon State University
3029 Cordley Hall
Corvallis, OR 97331-2914
Phone: 541-737-9131
On the Web:
Co-PIs: Kristen Milligan, PISCO/OSU Zoology; Michael Donnellan, ODFW

Hypoxic zones (aka "dead zones") are an issue of significant scientific and management concern for the world’s coastal oceans. In the Pacific Northwest, hypoxic (and anoxic) events have recently become more frequent, upsetting productive ecosystems on the continental shelf. Current understanding suggests that the emergence of shelf hypoxia/anoxia reflects long-term declines in the oxygen of interior ocean water, and that the problem is likely to worsen with climate change. But the ecological and fishery impacts of such changes, while critical to our ability to predict ecosystem and fishery resliience, remain poorly understood.

Francis Chan’s team is exploiting the severity of shelf hypoxia to examine the response of reef-associated fish and macro-benthic invertebrate communities during declining oxygen concentration, as well as their ability to recover from such events. Along with data on species-specific thresholds, one important outcome will be the ability to identify the kinds of communities likely to be most affected by the expansion and intensification of hypoxia. This information will help inform management decisions in areas such as the selection and design of marine reserves. The researchers anticipate outreach efforts to develop mechanisms for transferring accurate and up-to-date information about hypoxia and its effects on fisheries to the fishing community and other coastal stakeholders.

Learn more: