In recent laboratory studies, PISCO researchers have created the future ocean and found startling impacts to sea life. A new study shows that the smallest life forms – young of sea urchins – can no longer deal with heat when growing in an increasingly acidic ocean. The ocean is more acidic due to increases in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere; predictions are for a warmer and even more acidic ocean. Numerous studies have shown that more acid has great biological impacts.
Striking differences in the dispersal of coexisting species have fascinated marine ecologists for decades. Findings from an inter-hemispheric comparison of data suggest that simple models can capture some of the complexity caused by differing life history traits such as modes of dispersal. Despite widespread attention to the impact of dispersal on individual population and species dynamics, the role of dispersal in determining outcomes of species interactions has received comparatively little attention.
In 2008, PISCO researchers documented the rise of anoxic waters caused by upwelling currents. Upwelling currents typically support extremely productive ecosystems (20% of global fishery yield are taken from upwelling areas) because they transport nutrient-rich water from the deep to surface waters where they can be used by photosynthetic organisms.
PISCO researchers at Stanford University have found that certain species of barnacles use heat shock protein 70 as a "preparative defense" strategy, maintaining high levels of Hsp70 in their cells as a mechanism for protection against periods of extreme and unpredictable heat stress. Barnacles are a key animal in the intertidal both as a source of prey and a source of larvae which are an important food source in the near shore pelagic environment.
Recent results from a PISCO study at Oregon State University have shown that even relatively straight coastlines may have enhanced recruitment zones attributable to the variable local oceanography.