Research

We currently have several research projects in various stages, ranging from proposal to publication. As with many labs, our research projects often overlap, along with personnel. Below is a description of a few larger research themes the lab is working on.

 

Southern Flounder

We have been investigating southern flounder in the Atlantic Ocean (with collaborator Fred Scharf, UNCW) going back to 2009. Although we remain involved in the Atlantic stock through data and assessment, we are also shifting our focus to collect southern flounder in the Gulf of Mexico. By partnering with state agencies, we are planning more work on topics ranging from age, growth, and reproduction, all the way to estuarine habitat use and productivity.

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Microplastics

We are currently partnering with nearly a dozen state agencies to sample fishes throughout the Mississippi River watershed. Gut contents of these fishes will be analyzed for microplastic loads so that we might begin to construct a spatial understanding of relative microplastic levels in fishes through one of the world’s largest river basins.

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Photo: Mark Benfield

 

Coastal Fisheries in Tanzania

Through a large NSF-funded project we have been able to do field work in Coastal Tanzania looking at habitat (e.g., mangrove) use of various coastal fish species, along with working to develop species and demographic descriptions of harvest. Because mangrove ecosystem services and resources are central to small coastal fishing villages, it is very important to understand patterns of resource use and how they may ultimately be conserved for sustainable use.

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Sciaenid Growth

Scianids (e.g., sea trout, red drum, black drum) are high-value recreational and commercial species in Louisiana and throughout the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coasts. Although simple, traditional models have often been used to describe their growth—a key parameter and input for stock assessments—recent work has suggested that sciaenid species may show more variable growth than is typically described. We are currently collaborating with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to re-examine fishery data in an effort to improve our description of sciaenid growth.

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Mobile Catch Reporting

Partnering with Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries we are analyzing use, habits, and effectiveness of a mobile reporting app for recreational fishermen. The app will be in use in the 2018 and 2019 fishing seasons, and the work will pair with other attitudinal survey work in order to gain an understanding of angler throughs about fishery management and how catch data can best inform that management.

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Transboundary Fisheries Science

From 2013–2014 we built a large database by compiling over a dozen state agency fish sampling programs. With more than 40 million records, the large spatial and temporal extent of this unique database has allowed us to ask questions at scales not typically addressed with traditional fisheries data. To date, we have investigated multi-species occurrence, landuse thresholds on fish occurrence, and questions about biological invasions. Several additional analyses are in the works. (Please contact us if you have a collaborative interest.)

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Other Projects

We are also involved in a range of other research projects, from more basic biological descriptions of species to physiological experiments and hierarchical model development. Please see our publications for specifics, or contact us with questions.