He has done some work showing that sea nettles, whose populations peak about the same time as anchovy spawning, in July, are significant predators on anchovy eggs and larvae, and may compete with little anchovies for food.
Some scientists have speculated that sea nettles may have been less abundant when oyster populations in the bay were larger and healthier.
Speculating further, one could imagine a scenario where more oysters might mean fewer nettles, and more anchovies, and more of the creatures that feed on them.
If that sounds complicated, rest assured: the truth is probably even more complicated.
A more direct link may occur between the current, depressed state of oxygen in bay waters in the summer, and the limited tolerance of bay anchovies for such "hypoxic" waters.
Vast volumes of the bay that appear to be potential anchovy habitat may become productive of the bait fish once again if goals of raising oxygen levels are ever met.
It is perhaps human nature to focus on the rockfish and the whale, but understanding how the anchovy fills their stomachs is at least as important to ecologists like Houde.
In fact, Houde says he and a graduate student recently discovered what half the critters in the bay already knew -- that the bay anchovy (only distantly related to the pizza anchovy) is delicious.
Try them whole, stir-fried in peanut oil, he recommends.