Strawberry Hill, Neptune State Park

Strawberry Hill, Neptune State Park

by | Aug 21, 2021

Strawberry Hill is part of Neptune State Park, situated between Nancy Creek and Bob Creek, about 19 miles (31 km) north of Florence and 5 miles (8 km) south of Yachats, Oregon. The Strawberry Hill Rocky Shore Area is a series of basalt outcrops along the base of Cape Perpetua that includes 0.8 miles (1.3 km) of diverse intertidal habitat and harbor seal pupping and haulout areas. The intertidal area is a research reserve that includes all rocky outcrops, tide pools, and sand beaches between extreme high tide and extreme low tide. This is an important site for experiment-based field studies of rocky intertidal communities, focusing on how intertidal plants and animals are organized and change over time. For example, at Strawberry Hill, filter-feeders such as mussels and barnacles are relatively abundant and marine algae are relatively scarce, in contrast to Boiler Bay, near the community of Depoe Bay, where marine algae are abundant and filter feeders are relatively scarce. These studies have been important for identifying the causes and mechanisms underlying observed patterns. One group that conducts long term research here is the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans (PISCO).

PISCO studies the impacts of climate change on large marine ecosystems to help resource managers understand how to conserve marine resources such as fish, marine mammals, and kelp beds. Marine ecosystems are also affected by human activities, such as coastal development, pollution, commercial and recreational harvesting of marine resources. In order to understand how coastal ecosystems will be affected by environmental and human disturbance, studies are needed of the complex interplay between physical forces and biological communities. The coastal ocean is one of the most important and dynamic regions of the world. It is a critical habitat for more than 90% of all marine organisms. These organisms are strongly affected by physical conditions, including winds, waves, rivers, as well as the topography of the sea floor and the shape of the coastline. Changes in these environmental conditions can affect productivity, species population sizes, and community complexity and structure on rocky shore ecosystems.

PISCO research focuses on biologically diverse rocky shore habitats because of their ecological importance to the California Current coastal marine ecosystem. PISCO scientists study invertebrate recruitment, community structure and biodiversity as well as environmental varables of the coastal ocean such as temperature, tidal submersion times, and wave forces in an effort to better understand the processes driving ecosystem changes. Rocky shore ecosystems lie at the interface between land and sea, exposing organisms here to alternating terrestrial and marine habitats in rhythm with the tidal cycle. When the tide is in, species are bathed by seawater that exposes them to ocean predators, moderates temperatures, delivers food, transports propagules, and imposes large hydrodynamic forces. When the tide is out, the same rocky-shore species are subjected to terrestrial predators, desiccation, temperature extremes, intense solar radiation, and occasional dousing by freshwater. Although rocky shores are a comparatively minor habitat on Earth in terms of area, they have played a disproportionately large role in our understanding of ecological systems. As we move into an era of accelerated global climate change and increasing human pressures, the extensive past work in the intertidal zone may serve as a valuable baseline against which to measure the effects of environmental shifts. Read more here and here. Explore more of Strawberry Hill here:

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This ‘warming stripe’ graphic is a visual representation of the change in global temperature from 1850 (top) to 2019 (bottom). Each stripe represents the average global temperature for one year. The average temperature from 1971-2000 is set as the boundary between blue and red. The color scale goes from -0.7°C to +0.7°C. The data are from the UK Met Office HadCRUT4.6 dataset. 

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