An Interdisciplinary Approach

Norissa
Photo Credit: Cristine McConnell

Since its inception, PISCO has sought to understand how the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem (CCLME) functions and how it is affected by climate and human activities.  It is unique in integrating multiple scientific disciplines to derive a comprehensive understanding of a coastal system at the large ecosystem scale.  The consortium gathers experts from diverse scientific disciplines and points them toward a common goal. 

From molecule to organism to ecosystem, the PISCO consortium bridges gaps between marine ecologists, molecular and organism biologists, and physical oceanographers. Traditionally, ecologists on coastal reefs have had surprisingly little interaction with physics‐oriented oceanographers on the high seas. Through its programs of research, data sharing, and training, PISCO brings these groups together to produce synthetic science that crosses disciplinary boundaries and provides novel discoveries and valuable insights.

The program has embedded the molecular and organism level science into the matrix of large‐scale coastal ecosystem research, thus enabling scientists to link experimental findings with what is known about patterns of biodiversity and populations of marine species. Examples include: linking physiological performance indicators with changes in species distributions, studying physical oceanography of the nearshore in order to place biological processes in an environmental context, understanding environmental causes of changes in species distributions, modeling and ground-truthing predictions of larval dispersal, and evaluating ecosystem responses to differing levels of human activity such as fishing. 

The interdisciplinary approach has also empowered PISCO scientists to work with a wide range of collaborators from other disciplines such as political and social sciences and economics and explore topics such as spatially-explicit approaches to management, economic and ecosystem trade-off analyses and the interface between science and policy. 

Emerging results demonstrate the high value of this interdisciplinary and multi-scale approach for understanding and predicting how species will respond in the face of changing ocean circulation patterns, acidification, hypoxia, altered patterns of fishing, and other environmental perturbations.

Recent Findings

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