My former labmate, Dr. Robin Elahi, was the lead author on a paper that just came out in Marine Biology about community change on subtidal rock walls over the last 40 years.
In the late 1960s to early 70s Charles Birkeland was a student at FHL, and photographed several permanent quadrats at Shady Cove, San Juan Island. Our lab, led by Ken Sebens, has been monitoring similar walls at Shady Cove for the last seven years, allowing us to compare historic communities to present ones to look for introductions, extirpations, or changes in abundance. Despite clear evidence of an increase in water temperature and predatory fish abundance, we observed only minimal differences – namely that historic communities appeared to be susceptible to more urchin and chiton grazing. This result is promising in light of stories from other parts of the world where climate change and invasions are triggering major community shifts.
Elahi, R, C. Birkeland, K. Sebens, K. Turner and T. Dwyer. In press. Limited change in the diversity and structure of subtidal communities over four decades. Marine Biology. DOI 10.1007/s00227-013-2308-3.