The work described by the Times article is part of a larger U.S. GLOBEC project to understand the population dynamics of organisms with pelagic larvae. The overall aim has been to combine the mechanism of larval movement and settling, as affected by the California Current, with dynamics of populations distributed along the Pacific coast. The ultimate goal is to understand the population dynamics of species such as the Dungeness crab and sea urchin in space and time. Thus our modeling efforts have focused on two different time scales: the scale of a few months corresponding to larval movement within a given year, and the time scale of years (or many years) corresponding to population dynamics, with larval movement, i.e., redistribution, as an input.

In our attempts to understand population dynamics over the scale of many years, we have uncovered behavior of unforeseen complexity, which will change our view of the dynamics of species distributed along coastlines, as described in the accompanying reprinted news article. We strongly believe that the more descriptive modeling approaches we have used are absolutely necessary within the context of a program aimed at understanding specific systems such as the California current--the uncovering of general principles is needed to understand specific models of complex systems.--Alan Hastings, University of California, Davis, CA.