Meet the Winners:

Xochitl Clare

2023 BioOne Ambassador

BioOne Ambassador Award

“It’s All About Relationships”: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Understanding Ocean Warming Impacts on Fisheries

This video is in reference to:

Larval Thermal Tolerance of Kellet’s Whelk (Kelletia kelletii) as a Window into the Resilience of a Wild Shellfishery to Marine Heatwaves

Journal of Shellfish Research, 41(2): 283-290 (2022)
Xochitl S. Clare, Li Kui, Gretchen E. Hofmann

Headshot of Xochitl Clare

Xochitl Clare

“It’s All About Relationships”: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Understanding Ocean Warming Impacts on Fisheries

As a first-generation Afro-Latina Marine Biologist and Performing Artist with firsthand experience with the socioeconomic barriers that limit public access to the ocean, I have been driven to increase access to the ocean from an early age. I regularly engage the public on my ocean warming research on larval fisheries.

What drew you to the research topic you explored in your submission?

Shelled marine gastropods support ecosystem function and local economies worldwide. However, warming events, such as marine heatwaves, threaten the structure of ecosystems they inhabit. Shellfish species such as the Kellet’s whelk may be able to provision their progeny to be more resilient to oncoming thermal stress. Therefore, it is essential to investigate thermotolerance of the early vulnerable stages to determine whether or not shellfish like the Kellet’s whelk will be able to withstand ocean warming at the population level.

How do you see your work contributing to public policy, citizen science, and/or science education more broadly?

With marine heatwaves expected to be more frequent and intense, my work will respond to the need to for more global change biology studies on economically important species in the coming years. Because methodology for understanding the impact of marine heatwaves on early stage Kellet’s whelks is in its earliest stages, my research will help establish best practices for studying similar species interactions in a global change context. The insight I gain on the whelk via my experiments will be used to inform local commercial fishermen on successful kelp forest fisheries practices in the face of a warming sea.

I aim to break barriers in global change biology via my visibility as a black ocean scientist and mentorship of diverse STEM scholars. As a McNair Graduate Student Mentor, I helped underrepresented minority (URM) students prepare for graduate school during a year of hybrid instruction. I also help increase access to STEM fields will via education programs I have developed for the next generation of marine science. As an example, I founded “REEFlections,” an undergraduate symposium, where I directed STEM students in presenting their research to stakeholders. To accommodate students during COVID-19, I directed “REEFlections” virtually and imparted proposal writing skills by doing virtual writing consultation for the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program.

Collaborating with local educators, I also led a “science-in-action” experiment-display at UCSB’s public aquarium, while staging temperature treatments on larval Kellet’s whelks. I sought a grant to fabricate my experiment-display as a longstanding resource for UCSB. My “science-in-action” programs supported our community’s transition in-and-out of remote learning during COVID-19. During COVID-19, I also trained undergraduates in larval biology and science communication (K-12) on my work.

What are your continuing research goals for the future (near and/or far)? What topics, areas, subjects are you interested in exploring?

In my next steps, I will use eco-physiology and scientific storytelling to work on the interactive effects of pollution and ocean warming in Placencia, Belize as it concerns economically invertebrates, such as the sea cucumber. I will do this work as a Washington Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow based at the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University ofWashington in the Padilla-Gamiño Lab.

Like my dissertation work at the University of California, Santa Barbara, my postdoctoral work in Placencia will be twofold to: (1) examine anthropogenic impacts on economically important sea cucumbers and (2) support Placencia management via storytelling. In my postdoctoral work, I will embark on a systems-wide approach to ecosystem management in a socio-ecological system markedly different than the subject of my dissertation.

To reach these goals, I will work with non-governmental organization (NGO) community leader, Dr. Marisa Tellez and Dr. Arlenie Rogers at University of Belize, who will serve as my international partners. My ability to do this work is supported by my rich experience in fostering collaborations between stakeholders to develop climate change solutions during my dissertation. My postdoctoral work supports my goals to initiate new conservation modes as a R1 university professor. I will be an NGO-to-academia mentor, attracting individuals of diverse ethnic and non-traditional backgrounds in conservation.

Is there anything else you want to share about you and/or your research?

Although working with multiple partners towards environmental solutions is challenging, as a scientist and performing artist, my curiosity, collaborative spirit, and ambition for social good, ensures my dedication to bridging scientific and coastal communities towards ocean solutions.


Xochitl Clare

For information about the National Shellfisheries Association, please visit their website:
National Shellfisheries Association

For questions about BioOne or the BioOne Ambassador Award, please contact:
Amanda Rogers

BioOne Publishing
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