My PhD research focuses on understanding spatial, predation, and population dynamics of two flatfish fish populations on the Grand Bank off Newfoundland. Despite decades of research focusing on the collapse of fish populations on the Grand Bank, we understand very little about how these populations changed across space and how changes in the ecosystem have impacted their ability to recover. My thesis consists of four chapters: 1) model changes in the spatial distribution of American plaice and yellowtail flounder and determine whether that change was environmentally driven, 2) develop a method for modeling the abundance of an important prey of these flatfish species (Northern sand lance), 3) use a juvenile population dynamics model to assess how natural mortality has has affected the unfished components of the American plaice population since their collapse, and 4) develop a model of intermediate complexity for American plaice and yellowtail flounder that can incorporate multispecies and ecosystem dynamics. My work will contribute to improving our understanding of the mechanisms that resulted in population collapse and lack of recovery to improve future management.
Climate change now plays a role in most research that focuses on long-term changes in natural populations. As a result, attempting to understand the impacts of climate change and how we can manage its effects is an active component of my work. To date, I have published research on the effects of temperature on the spatial distribution of flatfish populations in the Northwest Atlantic and carbon dioxide on crayfish behavior in Louisiana (pictured on the left). In addition, my ongoing research is examining climate effects on multi-species interactions and long-term changes to ecosystem productivity.
Having a solid understanding of fish life history (e.g. growth, maturity, fecundity) is essential for effective fisheries management. Changes in life history over space and time can be driven by fishing or environmental effects and can have substantial impacts on population productivity and fisheries sustainability. To date, I have published research on the maturity of American plaice on the Grand Bank off Newfoundland and the age and growth of the thumbprint emperor (pictured on the left) in Tanzania. In addition, my ongoing research involves examinations of spatiotemporal variability in length and maturity of Atlantic cod around Newfoundland and synchronous changes in life history among the Northwest Atlantic fish community.
My Master's thesis dealt with small-scale fisheries along the coastline of Tanzania, East Africa. The first chapter of this thesis examined community fisheries management data. I was curious about how consistent data collection was and whether it may be able to serve as a model system for other developing countries. The second chapter of this thesis involved the generation of models which seek to predict the spatial characteristics of these fisheries using landings data and spatial habitat and socio-economic data. Overall, the thesis aimed to provide evidence for continued collection of community data, to further understand these important fisheries, while simultaneously promoting increased local control of fisheries management.