Assistant Professor, Ph.D. University of British Columbia, 2006
Welcome to the Fisheries and Ecosystem Ecology Lab at the USF College of Marine Science. Our research is focused on understanding how human activities influence the structure and function of marine communities. We have active research projects in the following areas:
Deepwater Horizon oil spill
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill released approximately 4.9 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Since 2011 my laboratory has been involved in a study to quantify the impacts on the marine ecosystem, to estimate recovery time of the ecosystem, and plan for the next spill. As part of the CIMAGE Consortium, a group of 13 institutes from 4 countries, our role is to synthesize the vast amounts of data resulting from field and laboratory studies into a coherent picture. We are using a variety of modeling techniques, including statistical, individual-based and food-web models. The tools that we develop can be used to plan mitigation strategies to minimize damage to the natural environment and protect the fishing industry.
Creating a virtual ecosystem using computer modeling allows us to test fisheries management strategies before they are implemented. We are currently evaluating a number of strategies involving the use of marine protected areas and harvest control rules. Through our work we hope to provide the Gulf of Mexico new management options to ensure sustainable fisheries, protect biodiversity and reduce conflict between marine-use sectors.
Climate change is one of the greatest threats facing marine ecosystems. Our laboratory is working to understand how global warming and ocean acidification will impact the marine ecosystem in years to come. Most studies point towards biodiversity loss, impacts on the fishermen’s livelihoods and reduced food availability for the developing world. However, by taking a precautionary approach to management now, we may be able to afford vulnerable species the chance to survive and adapt to changing conditions.