backResearcher Profile

Jane Watson

Job Title: Instructor of biology and Adjunct Professor
Employer: Malaspina University College and the University of British Columbia
Place of Birth: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Public School attended: Carnarvon Elementary
High School attended: Kitsilano High School
Further Education: University of British Columbia (B.Sc.), University of California at Santa Cruz (Ph.D.).
Geographic focus of research: British Columbia

Brief synopsis of current research:
I examine the effects of sea otters on nearshore community structure. As sea otters remove herbivores such as sea urchins, the abundance of seaweed increases. This in turn affects the abundance of organisms throughout the nearshore community. Sea otters were hunted to extinction in BC in the mid 1800, they were reintroduced in the 1960s and 1970s. In the absence of sea otters,nearshore rocky areas in much of BC are dominated by sea urchins, and there is little seaweed. As sea otters expand their range, urchin abundance declines, and seaweed abundance increases. Seaweed in turn increases nearshore productivity, and provides an important habitat type.

Website:
www.mala.bc.ca

Recent Publications:

Watson, JC, GM Ellis, TG Smith, JKB Ford. The statuse of sea otters in Canada - Can Field Nat 111:277-286

Comments:
I grew up on the coast, exploring the coast by boat with my parents and siblings, it never occurred to me that I would be anything other than a "marine biologist". As a marine scientist I have always had interesting and challenging work, work that has allowed me to work and explore the marine environment different countries (tropics to the high Arctic). By trying to understand how the ocean works, we may learn how to look after it.I feel that through research I contribute little pieces to a much larger puzzle. Through teaching I hope I teach students to be concerned and curious about the natural world that they live in and the ocean that I love.