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It is rare to find evidence of top predators recovering after being negatively affected by overfishing. However, recent findings suggest a nascent return of the critically endangered giant sea bass (Stereolepis gigas) to southern California. To provide the first population assessment of giant sea bass, surveys were conducted during the 2014/2015 summers off Santa Catalina Island, CA. Eight sites were surveyed on both the windward and leeward side of Santa Catalina Island every two weeks from June through August. Of the eight sites, three aggregations were identified at Goat Harbor, The V’s, and Little Harbor, CA. These three aggregation sites, the largest containing 24 individuals, contained a mean stock biomass of 19.6 kg/1000 m2 over both summers. Over the course of both summers the giant sea bass population was primarily made up of 1.2 - 1.3 m TL individuals with several small and newly mature fish observed in aggregations. Comparison to historical data for the island suggests giant sea bass are recovering, but have not reached pre-exploitation levels.
The Northeast Pacific Ocean was anomalously warm in 2014, despite ENSO-neutral conditions in the tropical Pacific. We document northern range shifts associated with this anomaly for 30 species of nudibranchs and other shallow-water, benthic heterobranch gastropods from southern California to southern Oregon. Nine of these (Placida cremoniana, Trapania velox, Doriopsilla fulva, Janolus anulatus, J. barbarensis, Flabellina cooperi, Anteaeolidiella chromosoma, A. oliviae, and Noumeaella rubrofasciata) were recorded from new northernmost localities, while the remainder were found at or near northern range limits which we show were established mainly during El Niño events. All 30 species have planktotrophic larval development, and six were observed spawning at northern localities, increasing the likelihood that their ranges will continue to shift poleward as the strong 2015-16 El Niño develops. Notable among these was Okenia rosacea, usually found south of San Francisco and last observed in Oregon as a single specimen found during the 1997-98 El Niño. In 2015 this bright pink nudibranch reached high densities and was observed spawning throughout northern California and into southern Oregon. Okenia rosacea is therefore poised to exploit abundant prey resources previously out of its reach in northern Oregon and Washington. Our results not only demonstrate a striking biological response to the 2014 warm anomaly in the North Pacific Ocean, but also support early physical indications of a larger regional climate shift, one reinforced by long-term global warming. Combined with historical data, these results highlight how shallow-water nudibranchs, with their planktotrophic larvae, short life cycles, conspicuous coloration, and accessibility are excellent biological indicators of ocean climate in the region.
There is a need for a consolidated source of information on native vegetation seed collection and germination strategies in southern California. Published literature on these methods is often experimental, species-specific, and widely scattered throughout online and print media. Planting and restoration strategies may need to be site-specific; however, similar methodological approaches are often utilized allowing for the development of general strategies for seed collection, storage, and germination methods. A better understanding of species-specific seed attributes and growth processes will help restoration ecologists collect high-quality, viable seed, thereby increasing the potential success of the restored vegetation community by reducing plant mortality, project costs, and effort. This paper synthesizes seed collection and germination strategies for native vegetation common to southern California estuarine wetland, coastal dune, and coastal sage scrub systems.