Santa Barbara Field Station

Science Center Objects

The Santa Barbara Channel area extends from the steep Santa Ynez Mountains on the north to the Channel Islands and adjacent continental shelf on the south and from Point Conception east to the Hueneme submarine canyon. This dynamic landscape, characterized by diverse ecosystems and both urban and rural populations, faces increasing environmental stress due to development, climate change, and natural hazards. The USGS has a long history of work in this area, providing information on a range of coastal-zone-management issues to local, State, and Federal stakeholders.

A photo of a diver installing a pressure sensor in nearshore waters.

A photo of a diver installing a pressure sensor, which will help detect wave energy at specific nearshore sites.

USGS Western Ecological Research Center's lead scientist, Kevin Lafferty and collaborators from the University of California, Santa Barbara conduct research in community ecology and parasite ecology. The Santa Barbara field station has a cooperative agreement with the University of California, Santa Barbara. The linkage with the university provides opportunities to supervise graduate students in marine ecology and work in laboratories with flow-through seawater to allow housing temperate marine species.

Scientists are involved in the conservation of marine resources and investigating strategies for protecting endangered shorebirds, fish, and abalone. Examples of research in marine ecology are restoration strategies for the nearly extirpated white abalone, patterns of disturbance for threatened western snowy plovers, marine reserve design, kelp forest community dynamics, predicting the potential effects of wave energy absorption from marine renewable energy facilities on nearshore ecosystems, food webs that incorporate complex interactions, and coral reef monitoring at Palmyra Atoll.