Sustainable California presents: Sea Stars

Sustainable California presents: Sea Stars

CITRIS-seeded UC-TV’s “Sustainable California” channel features documentaries on environmental topics such as this update on the sea star wasting disease first identified in 2013 from a research team including UC Merced and UC Santa Cruz investigators. CITRIS Seed Funding supports proof-of-concept work to address society’s greatest information technology challenges.

Sustainable California: December 12, 2017 – The largest non-commercial marine mass mortality event on record (as of 2013) created a ‘natural experiment’ and an opportunity to study genomic changes in wild populations with unprecedented detail. Rather than observing only the aftermath—a team of researchers from UC Merced is reconstructing the population and genetic consequences of an epidemic outbreak of sea star wasting disease. The team measured the abundance and genetic variation of Pisaster ochraceus, a keystone species, in the year preceding mass mortality. They then repeated sampling of adults and juveniles in subsequent years, measuring population dynamics and genomic shifts during and after the disease outbreak. At a time when marine diseases and mass mortalities are on the rise, this study documents the impact of little-known wildlife diseases and potential trajectory of recovery in a keystone marine species.

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The Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) and the Banatao Institute drive interdisciplinary innovation for social good with faculty researchers and students from four University of California campuses – Berkeley, Davis, Merced, and Santa Cruz – along with public and private partners.

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