A view of the estero from the air

Rosenberg Institute Spring Seminar Series - Ben Becker

Wednesday, February 02, 2022
Event Time 03:40 p.m. - 04:30 p.m. PT
Location Virtual Zoom Event
Contact Email


Ben Becker, Science Advisor, Californian Cooperative Ecosystems Studies Unit

Post-aquaculture estuarine restoration and eelgrass recovery in Drakes Estero, California

Abstract: Between August 2016 and May 2017 the National Park Service (NPS) removed 95 wooden oyster racks and associated mariculture debris from Drakes Estero, a shallow estuary within Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, California. A total of 3.8 million lbs. of debris was removed from the estero, with the majority including shell, pressure treated wood, and plastic debris (2.8 million lbs.) from the estero floor where it precluded the growth of eelgrass (Zostera marina). In order to (1) detect any impacts on eelgrass, (2) document recovery of eelgrass post-restoration, and (3) track changes to benthic communities including non-native species, we implemented a subtidal monitoring program with control sites and analyzed before and after restoration images for percent cover of benthic communities. In general, eelgrass growth into disturbed plots was variable, with more rapid growth in less disturbed plots. Passive eelgrass restoration has been largely successful in this wilderness estuary.

Bio: Ben is the NPS Science Advisor and Research Coordinator for the NPS Californian Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit at UC Berkeley. From 2001 - 2020, he was at Point Reyes National Seashore in a variety of roles including Marine Ecologist and Chief of the Science Division. His focus is developing and delivering scientific information to inform NPS and partner management goals across ecosystems, species and stakeholder interests. Similarly, he works with partners to implement science education and internship programs to train the next generation of scientists. He performs research and monitoring on marine food webs, seabirds, pinnipeds, estuaries, and several threatened and endangered species in Northern California. Favored tools include stable isotopes and study designs that can answer a specific question well rather than a broad question poorly. Ben received his degrees from UCLA (BA), Yale (MS), and UC Berkeley (PhD).

SFSU is a member of the Californian Cooperative Ecosystems Studies Unit (CA-CESU), a formal partnership of 15 federal agencies, nine UCs, most CSUs, and several NGOs/Museums to jointly conduct research and education.  100s of research projects are funded and implemented through the CESU program each year benefitting researchers, students, and federal science needs across the biological, physical, social, and cultural sciences. Projects range from ecological research and cultural histories to social sciences and engineering.

Please join your SFSU colleagues during the first 10 - 15 minutes of this seminar to learn more about CESU opportunities and partnerships from National Park Service CA-CESU Science Advisor Dr. Ben Becker. We will cover the program for all Federal agencies, but there will be special emphasis on National Park Service partnerships and opportunities. If you are interested but cannot make the webinar, please contact bbecker@berkeley.edu.


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