aschmidt [at] ucdavis.edu
1055 Academic Surge
My research focuses on using long-term demographic data to model how populations respond to change in the environment. Currently, I am studying Brandt’s cormorant and Cassin’s auklet, two species of seabirds that breed on the Farallon Islands, located just off the coast of San Francisco. Understanding how changing ocean conditions impact marine populations is a persistent problem for management of marine resources. Seabirds offer several advantages for studying the effects of climate on marine systems. For example, seabirds often gather in dense colonies annually to breed. This provides a known location from which scientists can consistently monitor changes in the population. Because they forage on many of the same prey species as other marine predators, we can use information gathered from seabirds to better understand fluctuation and change throughout the marine environment. For this project I am collaborating closely with PRBO Conservation Science, a non-profit research organization that has been collecting data on the Farallones for over 40 years. I will be utilizing PRBO’s long-term data, as well as data collected by myself, to compare how the populations of two species, Brandt’s cormorant and Cassin’s auklet, respond to changes in ocean conditions and climate. These two seabird species forage on prey at different trophic levels. As a result, comparing their populations provides insight into how climate change affects different components of the marine food web.