Associate Professor of Biology, Sonoma State University
The California coast includes some of the most diverse marine habitats in the world, but the health of our coastal habitats is at risk. Climate change, pollution, and overfishing threaten to diminish the vitality of the marine ecosystems which play an important role in San Francisco Bay Area life.
Join the California Academy of Sciences to learn about the amazing diversity of life just off our coast and how local researchers are working to understand the effects of global climate change on intricate species interactions.
What are the challenges we face as ocean conservators and educators, and what actions can we take?
Join Cal Academy to find out what is needed to allow life on our shores to thrive.
Karina Nielsen received her Ph.D. from Oregon State University, was a National Science Foundation International Postdoctoral Fellow at the Universidad Catolica's Estacion Costera de Investigaciones Marinas in Chile and then a postdoctoral researcher with Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans. She is currently an Associate Professor of Biology at Sonoma State University.
Her research focuses on the interplay between nearshore oceanography and ecological functioning of benthic communities, and management and conservation of coastal ecosystems. She has studied how nutrients influence intertidal communities, how low oxygen (or hypoxic) areas form off the coast of Oregon and sustainability of commercial seaweed harvesting in California. She is currently engaged in monitoring sandy beach ecosystems in California's new marine protected areas and studying the effects of ocean acidification on the ecology of intertidal calcareous seaweeds (or coralline algae), kelps and surfgrasses.
Karina is also actively engaged in public outreach and education and is working closely with the City of Fort Bragg (in northern California) and Sonoma State University to help establish the 'Noyo Center for Science and Education' on a now defunct lumber mill site that occupies the city's entire waterfront. She served on the science advisory team for the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative and currently serves as a member of the science advisory team for California's Ocean Protection Council.
Biologist Karina Nielsen surveys some of the greatest threats to the biodiversity of California's coast, arguing that commercial fishing and ocean acidification are causing increasing damage. "It may seem like there are plenty of fish in the sea," says Nielson, who argues that in reality, "the rates of extinction are increasing."
Science that deals with the animals and plants of the sea and estuaries and with airborne and terrestrial organisms that depend directly on bodies of saltwater for food and other necessities. Marine biologists study the relations between ocean phenomena and the distribution and adaptations of organisms. Of particular interest are adaptations to the chemical and physical properties of seawater, the movements and currents of the ocean, the availability of light at various depths, and the composition of the sea floor. Other important areas of study are marine food chains, the distribution of economically important fish and crustaceans, and the effects of pollution. In the later 19th century, the emphasis was on collecting and cataloging marine organisms, for which special nets, dredges, and trawls were developed. In the 20th century, improved diving equipment, submersible craft, and underwater cameras and television have made direct observation possible.