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May 6, 2021

5:00pm Zoom

EcoEvoPub Seminar Series
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UCLA

" Graduate Student Presentations "

Piper Wallingford

Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UCLA, Kremer Lab


Impacts of Mexacanthina lugubris: A dark unicorn in southern California intertidal communities


Globally, species are undergoing range shifts in response to climate change. However, the potential impacts of climate-driven range shifts are not well understood. In southern California, the predatory whelk Mexacanthina lugubris has undergone a northward range shift of more than 100 km in the past four decades. We traced the history of the whelk’s range shift and assessed potential impacts using an integrated approach, consisting of field surveys, as well as feeding and thermotolerance experiments. We found that at sites where Mexacanthina and native species co-occurred, native whelks distributions peaked lower in the intertidal. In laboratory experiments, we found that the presence of Mexacanthina led to reduced growth in native whelks (Acanthinucella spirata). Additionally, the range-shifting whelk was able to tolerate higher temperatures than common native species (Acanthinucella spirata and Nucella emarginata), suggesting further impacts as a result of climate warming. Many species are likely to undergo range shifts as a coping mechanism for changing climatic conditions. However, communities are unlikely to shift as a whole due to species-specific responses. By studying the impacts of range-shifting species, like Mexacanthina, we can better understand how climate change will alter existing community structure and composition.


Regina Zweng

Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UCLA, Fong Lab

“Oil and Gas Extraction in Los Angeles”

Today there are over five thousand active or idle oil wells in Los Angeles, making it the country’s largest urban oil field. Many of these oil wells are concentrated in lower income communities of color and interspersed next to homes, schools, parks, and hospitals. Up to 580,000 Angelenos live within a quarter mile of an active oil well. Living within such close proximity to oil drilling can lead to health impacts such as cancer, mental health issues, headaches, nausea, and nosebleeds. Local community groups currently recommend a setback distance of at least 762 m (2500 ft) between oil wells and sensitive receptors which include homes, schools, and hospitals. However, exposure to hydrogen sulfide and VOCs has been detected as far as 2000 m away. Statewide and local efforts are underway to implement longer setback distances and eventually phase out oil drilling. These include legislation at the state level which recently failed to pass out of committee, and an ordinance currently going through committees in Los Angeles City Council.