Mike Navarro hanging loose in L.A. Harbor

Linking the Sea Hare, Aplysia californica, to Watershed Discharge Environments Along the Open Coast

Contact Information:

email address- michaelnavarro204@earthlink.net

lab phone-                    714-278-3363

Link to CV

Working in the Zacherl Lab and at CSUF has allowed me to take advantage of some amazing opportunities.  As a master’s student finishing at CSUF, my work in the Zacherl laboratory in the most general of contexts is focused on larval ecology and population connectivity in the subtidal ecosystem of California.  Specifically, as a Zacherl student we exploit a permanent environmentally influenced calcified structures, such as statoliths (used by molluscs for equilibrium during locomotion), by using analytical chemistry techniques, such as inductively coupled plasma- mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) to discriminate spatial origins of various molluscs inhabiting the subtidal.  Work done by Dr. Zacherl has shown that seawater temperature gradients are a factor influencing Kelletia kelletii (Kellet’s Whelk) to have unique natural tags along at areas of the coast with different temperatures.  I’m testing an area with the same general temperature, the southern Orange County coast, to determine if natural tags can be further discriminated spatially based on differing ambient water metal concentrations of neighboring marine protected areas (MPAs).  My thesis work directly tests if natural tags of Aplysia californica (California sea hare) can be discriminated among neighboring MPAs as well as to determine if unique terrestrial input via watershed discharge is a factor that influences organisms to generate unique natural tags among neighboring MPAs.  My master’s thesis will be completed this year. 

My thesis work at CSUF has been exciting and enjoyable for many reasons.  CSUF is proximally located to some of the most beautiful rocky shorelines in California making it a preferred subtidal ecosystem to observe.   In this ecosystem, I’ve been able to enrich my experience in scientific SCUBA diving and in captaining vessels.  At CSUF, I’ve completed 176 logged dives and captained the CSUF ‘Silverside’ (18’ hard bottomed 90hp zodiac) more than 30 times.  As if this were not enough, being a Zacherl student has allowed me to gain exposure to additional top-tier institutions in marine biology including UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) and at SCRIPPS.  All of my microchemistry work on ICP-MS was completed working in collaboration with Georges Paradis at UCSB which has allowed me to grow tremendous lengths with my abilities in chemical laboratory techniques.  I was also given the opportunity to take ‘Benthic Ecology’ at SCRIPPS taught by Dr. Lisa Levin, Dr. Paul Dayton, and Dr. James Leichter.  Lastly, CSUF offers the chance to give back to the community and recently I was honored to be elected to the student position of Vice Chair/ Director of Finance for the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics (NSM) for the academic year (06-07).  In this position, I review student proposals for research travel funds (23 have been approved) and wrote the 2007-2008 budget proposal requesting $27,177.00 (~10% more than last year).  Conducting research in the Zacherl Lab and taking the master’s program at CSUF has been a great experience and I cannot imagine a better program to be involved.

Above: Adult Sea hare on rocky reef, photo courtesy of Diane Whitmer.

Above: Sea hare larva with statoliths clearly visible.