News

Ling cod (pictured here) and rockfish are interacting species; the former preys on the latter. Credit: Chad King / NOAA MBNMS
January 31, 2018

Through a Smith Fellowship, marine ecologist Kurt Ingeman is studying the recovery trajectories of predators and prey

Can targeted conservation facilitate recovery of intertwined species?

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Stegodyphus dumicola, a small African social spider, has helped disprove the Great Man Theory.
January 02, 2018

This is the story of a spider, small but bold.

This particular arachnid, in fact, has helped to debunk the Great Man Theory, a 19th-century notion positing that highly influential individuals use their power — be it personal charisma, intelligence, wisdom or political skill — to maximize their impact in shaping the course of history.

How better to test that theory than with Stegodyphus dumicola?

Working with these African social spiders in their native habitats, UC Santa Barbara evolutionary ecologist Jonathan Pruitt created a model for exploring leadership dynamics and social susceptibility — the tendency of individuals to change their behavior in response to interactions with influential group members. He found that the social susceptibility of the population majority — and not the influence of key individuals — is what drives leadership. The results appear in the journal Current Biology.

“We knew from previous studies that in a social group, the rare presence of bold individuals — who constitute between 1 and 5 percent of a population — radically changes collective behavior,” said Pruitt, an associate professor in UCSB’s Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology (EEMB). “This new research evaluates whether the rise and fall of societies could be contingent on having just one or a few of these key individuals and whether the profitability of their presence might change based on the environment.”

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Douglas McCauley
December 08, 2017

Assistant Prof. Douglas McCauley honored for applying new tech and big data to better understand ocean ecosystems.

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Augmented reality in teaching environmental science
October 19, 2017

Biologist Douglas McCauley examines the benefits and drawbacks of virtual and augmented reality in teaching environmental science

Virtual reality has nothing on nature. Just ask the UC Santa Barbara students who one recent day trekked to a forest before dawn to listen to a chorus of early birds.

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Oceanographic expedition
July 18, 2017
Scientists create an international dataset of silicon weight standards to better study diatoms and their contributions to the carbon cycle.
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July 11, 2017

Crossing an ecosystem tipping point creates dramatic change. From collapsed fisheries and coastal dead zones, to melting sea ice and dying coral reefs, the consequences are often devastating to both the environment and the people who depend on it. Tipping points occur when small shifts in human pressure or environmental conditions bring about large, sometimes abrupt changes in a system - whether in a human society, a physical system, an ecosystem, or our planet’s climate.

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Susan Mazer
June 29, 2017

The Honorable John C. Pritzlaff Conservation Award is given annually by the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden to recognize achievements in conservation both in California and around the world. Established in 2007, the award honors John Pritzlaff’s life-long commitment to conservation and serves to inspire others to understand the importance of conservation, take action, and help the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden reach its plant conservation leadership goals.

image of the Honorable John C. PritzlaffJohn C. Pritzlaff was a Botanic Garden Trustee from 1991 – 2003. He was a life-long servant and champion of the people and the environment. His political, personal, and volunteer activities speak clearly to his love of the environment and his desire to ensure that our greatest treasure – our natural environment – remains healthy for future generations. John recognized that botanic gardens are powerful agents for conservation. Individually and collectively, botanic gardens address a range of activities needed to help ensure the survival of threatened plant species.

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Marine Microbes
June 12, 2017

Microbiologist Alyson Santoro receives two grants to explore the deep blue sea in new and innovative ways

For UC Santa Barbara microbiologist Alyson Santoro, the 2016 National Academies Keck Futures Initiative (NAKFI) conference proved that point twice over, when she received a pair of grants to pursue work inspired by the year’s theme, “Discovering the Deep Blue Sea.”

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1mm Long Coral Larvae: Credit Emily Rivest
May 18, 2017

UCSB study shows coral reefs may have varied responses to climate change based on their location.

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March 30, 2017

Science and Arts Programs Expected to Lose Millions in Grant Dollars

Universities are just beginning to realize the impact that Trump’s budget proposal, released on March 16, will have on their campuses. The budget, as it now stands, proposes to eliminate multiple science, education, and arts programs in favor of a $54 billion increase in military spending. This “budget balancing” move comes despite the fact that the next biggest military spender, China, budgets one-fourth of what the U.S. expends, and that Russia actually cut its defense spending by 25 percent this year.

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