We are the Aburto Lab at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). The Aburto Lab is also the origin of the Gulf of California Marine Program and other initiatives.
The Aburto Lab is dedicated to ocean conservation and biodiversity.
Our lab believes that, by revising the narrative of science and reframing the traditional scientific framework, we can have a much greater impact. We value teaching and inspiring the next generation of scientists under this new framework by training the skill of storytelling to influence real conservation methods.
We can't just describe reality, we need to transform it.
Who We Are.
We are a team of post-doctoral researchers, graduate students, and undergraduate students dedicated to producing robust research on conservation and resource management issues in Mexican waters.
What We Do.
We focus on understanding how marine resources in Mexican waters are utilized. By researching various marine habitats and their associated ecosystem services, we build dialogue and engage with local communities and stakeholders to further science and policy. We further leverage multimedia communications to disseminate our work to targeted audiences.
How We Do It.
We analyze the interactions in marine ecology among marine biodiversity, fisheries, socioeconomics, climate change, and more. Our results facilitate understanding of the dynamics between marine ecosystems and human activities and are disseminated to partners, decision-makers, and stakeholders. Using multidisciplinary approaches, we tackle complex marine management issues to provide guidance towards sustainability and conservation.
The Aburto Lab has successfully replicated this framework which, we propose, should be the new working framework of the scientific community. Oftentimes, science stops at "Peer Review," but by using science to tell stories and by strengthening how we work together, we can make tangible, visible impacts on conservation.
Our Research Themes
The Aburto Lab emphasizes studies analyzing the ecological and economic value of mangroves and their ecosystem services. Students and researchers investigate questions relevant to mangrove ecosystem management at the municipal, state, federal, and international levels. Our research emphasizes using chemical and economic principles to document and gauge the value of mangrove-related activities, as well as the ecological and socio-economic consequences of losing these habitats. Using otolith and soil analyses, the Aburto Lab investigates how mangrove habitats act as a nurseries for important commercial fisheries, sequester carbon, and respond to climate change and human pressure.
The Aburto Lab works with artisanal fishing communities in Mexico to understand the interactions between the ecosystem and the biological, economic, and social components of a fishery. By producing robust data from tracking fishing activities via GPS, logging landings, and biological data, students and staff of the Aburto Lab analyze the spatio-temporal trends of the Gulf of California’s key fisheries. The lab also trains and involves local fishers - instrumental to the design and implementation of sustainable management - in identifying and understanding interactions between artisanal fishing activities, target species, protected species and marine protected areas.
The Aburto Lab collaborates with scientists and students from UABC (Universidad Autónoma de Baja California) in Ensenada, Mexico, to monitor Baja California’s kelp forests. The Kelp Forests Ecology Group (KFEG) closely studies the spatio-temporal patterns and the roles of fish, macroinvertebrate, and macroalgae communities within those ecosystems with special interests in species of high ecological or commercial value. By collecting, analyzing, and disseminating this data, the Aburto Lab provides information to decision-makers to assist in management and conservation of Baja’s kelp forests.
In partnership with other universities and organizations, the Aburto Lab tracks changes in the structure, function, and health of marine reef ecosystems by surveying fishes and invertebrates at numerous island and coastal sites. Through the use of satellite tags, acoustics, and DNA analysis, researchers have established a baseline for different ecosystems and species as well as defined the genetic connectivity and spatial ecology of reefs and its inhabitants. With such results, members of the Aburto Lab have been able to delineate biological and temporal variances among areas and species of different levels of protection.
The Aburto Lab is leading a new movement in science. We believe our proposed framework will ultimately contribute to various solutions on a global scale. Specifically, the Aburto Lab believes this new framework will contribute to UN development goals such as:
Science describes the problems faced by the earth and its oceans such as overfishing, deforestation, habitat destruction, global warming, species extinction, etc. But, by making radical changes in the way we do science, the Aburto Lab believes that we can make a change toward having a better, cleaner, and more biodiverse future. This will enable us to better align with the discussions and agendas necessary for helping our planet and oceans in the next decade.
We are committed to creating a diverse and equitable space in science and academia. We value providing equal opportunities and involvement regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, disabilities, age, etc.