The overarching question of our research group is to understand 1) what shapes the variability and viability of populations and communities in highly variable environments and 2) how to use such information to build models and insights that result in a more just, equitable, and sustainable future.

To address these objectives we study how processes such as competition, food limitation, Allee effects, and metabolism interact with climatic variability and human harvest to shape spatial and temporal variability in the dynamics of marine fish, invertebrates and algae.   Our research relies on statistical and mechanistic modeling approaches to integrate theory with fieldwork, monitoring data, and laboratory experiments.   Finally, our work is focused on developing insights and quantitative frameworks that can directly affect how natural resource management and conservation can lead to more verdant ecosystems and societies.

In our work we partner with specialists in fields ranging from ecophysiology to natural resource governance and work directly with communities, First Nations, and government agencies.

General Research Areas: 

  • Quantitative population dynamics of marine organisms
  • Fisheries management & conservation
  • Statistical & Bayesian methods in biology, ecology & fisheries
  • Marine community ecology
  • Trophic ecology, metabolic scaling and physiology
  • Reproductive biology and phenology

Examples of ongoing research:

Effects of climate variability and marine heatwaves on reproduction, bioenergetics, recruitment, and population fluctuations.

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This work is funded by a collaborative grant from the National Science Foundation, Biological Oceanography Program to Okamoto (lead PI) and PIs L Rogers-Bennett (UC Davis) and Rachel Simons (UCSB) and is supported by the Santa Barbara Coastal LTER, CDFW, and grants from the California Sea Urchin Commission and Cable Committee to collaborator Steve Schroeter.

Trade-offs between restoration, commercial harvest, and conservation that affect community-based access to traditional resources. 

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This work is funded by two grants from the Parks Canada Conservation and Research Grants to collaborator Lynn Lee and Okamoto (as co-PI) and a Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation to PI Okamoto. 

Impacts of harvest, spatial structure, and climate on population dynamics and equitable access in community-based fisheries. 

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This work is supported by the Council of Haida Nation, Heiltsuk Integrated Resource Management Department, Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance, Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, as well as grants to collaborators from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and Social Sciences and Humanities research council.