Wildlife mass mortality events can have profound ecological consequences and may be becoming more frequent or severe due to climate change or other stressors. Starting in the spring of 2013, an unprecedented sea star wasting syndrome swept the west coast of North America. The wasting syndrome has been observed from Alaska to Baja California, and has affected some 20 different species of sea stars. However, the causes and contributing factors of the sydrome remain poorly understood. In this talk, Jessica will summarize the sea star wasting event, including what is known about it so far, and what researchers are doing to learn more. Jessica will also present work from her recent SFU MSc thesis, which investigated the ecological fall-out of the event in our local waters of Howe Sound, and explored global trends in mass mortality events involving sea stars and their relatives.
Jessica Schultz is the Manager and Research Coordinator of the Howe Sound Resarch and Conservation Program at the Vancouver Aquarium. She has also recently completed a Master of Science degree in the Department of Biological Sciences at Simon Fraser University.