California college gains underwater research grants

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Two research groups at UC Santa Barbara’s Marine Science Institute received multimillion-dollar, multiyear grants from the National Science Foundation to fund continuing long-term research into the ecology of kelp forests and coral reefs.

The Santa Barbara Coastal Long Term Ecological Research and the Moorea Coral Reef Long Term Ecological Research programs each received close to $1 million a year for the next four to six years — money that will pay for research opportunities, supplies and salaries for researchers and interns working at the two UCSB-affiliated ecological research sites, which are part of the foundation’s Long Term Ecological Research Network, the institute announced.

The research network, the foundation’s flagship program in the environmental sciences, is unique in that its research and funding focuses on current and ongoing problems that can’t be covered within the foundation’s shorter grant cycles. Questions about the effects of events such as global warming, ocean acidification and the effect of rainwater runoff on offshore ocean communities can take decades of data and analysis to answer.

The foundation funds 25 sites in the U.S. Long Term Ecological Research Network, each of them focusing on a unique terrestrial or aquatic ecosystem that serves as a living laboratory from which researchers collect and analyze data that inform ongoing research and future management decisions. Two are led by UCSB scientists.

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