Brenton Spies

email:   Brenton Spies
phone:  310-206-7885
office:  TLSB 2159
advisor: David Jacobs

Research Interest

The northern tidewater goby, Eucyclogobius newberryi, has been listed as federally endangered since 1994. This small, annual fish species may be predisposed to local extirpation due to its preference for seasonally variable coastal lagoonal settings. These habitats are heavily impacted by anthropogenic effects, limiting the amount of suitable habitat this species needs for recovery. A significant component of my PhD research is directed towards implementing aspects of the US Fish & Wildlife Service Recovery Plan in order to determine the best approach for long-term conservation and sustainability of the species. A primary action essential for assessment of status prior to downlisting, or determination of recovery, is a metapopulation viability analysis (MVA). MVA models are used to assess population viability by predicting patterns of extinction and colonization based on presence/absence survey data, as well as multiple habitat characteristics (e.g. habitat size, climate, water quality, etc.). To be considered viable for downlisting from endangered to threatened, individual Sub-Units (metapopulations) within each Recovery Unit must be projected to have a 75% or better chance of persisting for a minimum of 100 years. In order to accurately inform these models, and assess the health and current status of the species, annual population surveys in over 150 estuaries are needed, spanning from Bodega Bay to San Diego, CA. Preliminary surveys have already revealed a high degree of endangerment, mainly in southern California due to habitat desiccation from drought conditions, recent fires and mudslides, and the introduction of non-native species. Endangerment is especially high in the southern unit of San Diego County where the newly described southern tidewater goby (Eucyclogobius kristinae) have been eliminated from all but three small systems on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.


Spies BT and Steele MA (2016) Effects of temperature and latitude on larval traits of two estuarine fishes in differing estuary types Marine Ecology Progress Series 544: 243-255

Swift CC, Spies BS, Ellingson RA, Jacobs DK (2016) A New Species of the Bay Goby Genus Eucyclogobius, Endemic to Southern California: Evolution, Conservation, and Decline PLoS ONE 11(7):

Spies BT, Tarango BC, Steele MA (2014) Larval Duration, Settlement, and Larval Growth Rates of the Endangered Tidewater Goby (Eucyclogobius newberryi) and the Arrow Goby (Clevelandia ios) (Pisces, Teleostei) Bulletin of Southern California Academy of Sciences 113(3): 165-175

Honors and Awards

Bartholomew Fellowship Award for Field Biology - UCLA EEB: 2018

Rafe Sagarin Award for Best Paper in Observational Ecology – Western Society of Naturalists: 2017

Deans Field Biology Award - UCLA EEB: 2016


2014   California State University, Northridge   MS    Marine Ecology

2008   San Diego State University   BS    Biology