One of the genuinely fun parts of science is when disparate bits of knowledge or previously un-linked tools or techniques come together to let us see novel patterns or explore new scientific realms. Tiff Stephens came to FHL as an undergraduate student and learned basic natural history of marine plants and animals; she then worked as an assistant for a FHL scientist studying seagrass, then for me learning intertidal sampling techniques including quantifying clam densities in sandy beaches. She got a job in Alaska and learned the marine ecosystems there before her education took her to New Zealand for a PhD studying kelp ecophysiology. These diverse experiences helped create a mind ready to assemble her observations of a sea otter-impacted beach into an ecological ‘pattern’ that was rife for exploration! This month’s Tide Bite describes the fun – and challenging – process of figuring out the creation of that pattern.
Dr. Megan Dethier