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Turning up the Heat on Marine Disease from Seagrasses to Seastars

April 9, 2020 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm


Infectious disease outbreaks in the oceans are fueled by increasing human activities, but especially
a warming ocean and linkages with climate change. I’ll talk about our work with ecologically important
disease outbreaks at the bottom and top of marine ecosystems. Disease outbreaks rapidly remove
vast areas of live tissue in plants and animals that create critical ocean habitats, such as eelgrass
meadows and coral reefs. Our research, based in the San Juan Islands, shows large impacts from
a seagrass infectious disease, linked with warming events. I’ll describe our new project, monitoring
health of eelgrass beds from San Diego to Alaska. The large impacts of disease are imperiling a
habitat that itself has the capacity to detoxify waters polluted by pathogenic bacteria. In other work,
at the top of the food chain, an ongoing epidemic imperils keystone starfish predators and was
fueled in the early stages by a warming ocean. The loss of the large subtidal star, Pycnopodia
helianthoides is contributing to population explosions of urchins and devastated kelp beds

Drew Harvell’s research on the health and sustainability of marine ecosystems has taken her from the
reefs of Mexico, Indonesia, and Hawaii to the cold waters of the Pacific Northwest and has resulted in
over 170 academic articles in journals such as Science, Nature, and Science Advances. She is a Fellow
of the Ecological Society of America and the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future; has received
the Seattle Aquarium Conservation Researcher of 2020, the NW Yachting Magazine Outstanding
Environmental Leadership Award 2020, and the Society of American Naturalists Jasper Loftus-Hills
Award; and is on the board of Friday Harbor Marine Labs. Harvell is passionate about communicating
Science. In addition to her new book, Ocean Outbreak (winner of the Prose Award and others), and
her earlier book, A Sea of Glass (winner of the National Outdoor Book Award and Honorable Mention
Rachel Carson Award), her writing appears in The New York Times, CNN and The Hill.

Join Zoom Meeting: 

Meeting ID: 120 178 768
Password: 275919


April 9, 2020
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Event Category:


University of Washington School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences

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