Research

I am an interdisciplinary scientist using empirical approaches in coastal marine ecosystems to improve our understanding of ecological communities while contributing knowledge to solve pressing challenges facing our nearshore fisheries.  My work relies primarily on long-term observations, field studies and both quantitative and qualitative methods.

 

ECOSYSTEM CONNECTIVITY

Goal: to understand mechanisms and ecological consequences of ecosystem connectivity in the marine environment

Ecosystem subsidies in central California kelp forests

I use traditional diet content analysis and stable isotopes to understand how trophic interactions in the kelp forest fish assemblage respond to resource pulses from adjacent pelagic ecosystems. I hope to use knowledge generated in this project to gain a better understanding of the factors that influence nearshore fishery productivity. This work is the topic of the first and second chapters of my dissertation. 

 

Use of drift vegetation as an ecological subsidy by a deep sea fish (and notes on this eelpout’s life history)

I’m investigating trophic and habitat subsidies from the nearshore kelp forest environment to adjacent deeep-sea canyons using the persimmon eelpout (Eucryphycus californicus) as a case study.

A manuscript for this project is in prep and will be available soon. 

 

COUPLED NATURAL AND HUMAN SYSTEMS

Goal: to integrate an understanding of human dimensions into our approach to fisheries management

Social-ecological coupling in the nearshore fishery of central California
Scientists, managers and resource users are increasingly aware of the importance of social-ecological coupling in determining fishery sustainability. In this project, I use qualitative (information from semi-structured interviews) and quantitative (landings and ecological monitoring data) data to characterize the nearshore fishery as a coupled social-ecological system. I employ market, governance, ecological and environmental data to explore relationships linking biophysical, economic and management components of the fishery, ultimately providing information for its adaptive management. This topic is the focus of the third chapter of my dissertation. 

 

sardines_montereybayManaging small-scale commercial fisheries for adaptive capacity

Focusing on the wetfish fishery (anchovy, sardine and squid) in California, we explore factors that lead to shifts in fishery dynamics, and ways that fishermen adapt in the face of economic and environmental disturbances. Our findings indicate that fisheries management would benefit by promoting regulations that allow fishery participants to shift effort between and among fisheries to encourage adaptive capacity in the fishery’s social-ecological system. These flexible, interconnected fishery systems can ensure that fishermen and fish stocks are resilient to continuing climatic, market and governance changes. 

Our open access publication can be found here

 

CLIMATE AND FISHERIES

Goal: to combine fisheries and dendrochronology methods to quantify the influence of climate on fisheries in a way that furthers adaptive fisheries management in the face of a changing ocean

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAClimate-growth relationships for rockfish in the genus Sebastes 

Climate is a major driver of species productivity, community structure and ecosystem functioning in the nearshore marine environment. However, as we gain a clearer understanding of oceanographic shifts that will occur as our climate changes, the lack of information on species’ biological responses to climate variability becomes apparent. This work relies on growth information stored in the otoliths of nearshore rockfish to improve our understanding of how environmental drivers impact individual fish growth. I aim to communicate results to managers working to forecast fishery dynamics to ensure sustainable management of our California nearshore stocks. 

Data and results from this project will be available soon. 

 

otolith

Impacts of decadal-scale climate variability on an economically important fishery

The productivity and functioning of marine ecosystems are tightly coupled to climatic variability, To explore the impact of decadal regime shifts (such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation) on higher trophic levels, we applied dendrochronology (tree-ring science) techniques to the otolith growth-increment widths of Pacific ocean perch (Sebastes alutus) collected from the continental slope of the eastern Bering Sea. Our results show that S. alutus exhibits the highest observed growth values immediately followed regime shifts, suggesting that these event have a critical and lasting impact on fish stocks. The biochronologies that we generated for this project provide a long-term perspective and underscore the susceptibility of fish growth to extreme low-frequency climatic events.

Find our published results here

 

 

 

 

I respectfully reserve the right to be smarter today than I was yesterday. – Konrad Adenauer (former German Chancellor)