San Francisco Bay has the dubious distinction of being known as the “most invaded estuary in North America” with nearly 300 non-native species reported. A major commercial port for the US west coast, the Bay features a broad range of habitat types from fully marine locations near the opening to the ocean at the Golden Gate Bridge to freshwater sites at the head where two major rivers, the Sacramento and San Joaquin, drain into the Bay. The Bay’s history of aquaculture and its maritime activities are major contributing factors to the high number of non-native species found here. San Francisco Bay was hugely altered following European settlement, with estimates of 80% of associated wetlands lost as lands were drained for salt mining, agriculture, and urban development. Today, numerous restoration efforts are underway, including restoring tidal flows to previously diked areas, planting of native eelgrass and marsh vegetation, and deploying substrates for native oyster recruitment.
The sites include a brick and mortar seawall at San Francisco Marina Small Craft Harbor and a concrete seawall at the Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies in Tiburon (Marin County). San Francisco Marina is the oldest recreational marina in San Francisco, with 727 berths for pleasure craft and small fishing vessels. Located in an urbanized area, close to the mouth of the Bay, the marina is characterized by a mix of calm water harbor species (mostly non-natives) and native open coast rocky shore organisms. The seawall at San Francisco State University’s Romberg Tiburon Center, north of the Golden Gate and where our laboratory is housed, is a combination of concrete blocks and smooth vertical walls. This site is further into the estuary along a wooded, residential area. While we see fewer open-coast species here, strong tidal currents at this site may discourage calm water species from settling in abundance.
Greg is a marine ecologist with active research interests in invasion biology, biogeography, and ecology in coastal marine ecosystems. He heads a research group of ~ 40 full-time biologists, based at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) laboratories, located on Chesapeake Bay and San Francisco Bay. Most of his research explores the patterns, mechanisms, and consequences of marine invasions at a multiple spatial and temporal scales. He conducts extensive comparative measurements and experiments among estuaries along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts for North America. A Senior Scientist at SERC for over 25 years, Greg also is a Research Professor and founding co-director of the Aquatic BioInvasion Research and Policy Institute at Portland State University. Greg has published over 140 scientific articles as author or coauthor, focusing primarily on marine invasion ecology and management. He began his career in California and has broad interests in marine biology and dynamics of coastal ecosystems. Greg holds a Ph.D. in zoology from University of California, Berkeley and a B.A. in aquatic biology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. For additional information visit SERC’s Marine Invasion Research Laboratory website.
Chela Zabin is a marine ecologist at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, based at the Romberg Tiburon Center, Tiburon, California. Her research focuses on the vectors, impacts and management of marine invasive species and the ecology and restoration of native species. Additional areas of interest include community ecology, biogeographic patterns of intertidal species diversity, and the involvement of the lay public in data collection. She holds a PhD from the University of Hawaii, Manoa and a BA from UC Santa Cruz.
Gail is a research scientist at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, based in San Francisco, California, and a Research Associate at the British Antarctic Survey. She completed her PhD in Marine Ecology at the Scottish Association for Marine Science, Oban, Scotland. Gail is a marine benthic ecologist focusing on hard substrate communities. Her work spans tropical to polar latitudes in an attempt to understand the effect of anthropogenic impacts on marine communities. Her interests include: the distribution and dispersal of marine invertebrates; factors determining the settlement and establishment of fouling communities; phylogenetic analysis of population distributions and introduction pathways; and the influence of the physical environment on the success of invertebrate species.