A tale of two Gulf spills: A research consortium of 17 institutions from 5 countries studying the impacts of oil spills on the Gulf of Mexico.
Kevan Main is Manager for the Marine & Freshwater Aquaculture Research Program and has lead Mote's aquaculture research programs since 2001. Dr. Main was awarded the Mote Eminent Scholar Chair in Fisheries and Aquaculture in June 2013. She directs the operations at Mote’s 200-acre field station, Mote Aquaculture Park, in eastern Sarasota County. Dr. Main is currently the Immediate Past President of the World Aquaculture Society, having completing her Presidency in February 2013. Her research interests are in developing sustainable aquaculture methods to produce marine fish, sturgeon, shrimp, abalone, and corals through aquaculture. Dr. Main received her Ph.D. from Florida State University and has more than 20 years of experience in the aquaculture of tropical and subtropical fish and invertebrates from around the world. She has published 7 books and more than 50 peer-reviewed publications and has traveled to aquaculture facilities throughout Asia, Europe and the United States.
The common research theme in Dr. Paul's is the measurement of gene expression as a means to understanding microbially-mediated processes in the oceans. This is divided into specific areas of research that include lysogeny, phytoplankton carbon fixation, and development of sensors. Lysogeny is the process whereby a virus establishes a stable symbiosis in its host. His group is examining the genomes of temperate marine bacteriophages to understand the control of lysogeny in heterotrophic bacteria and picocyanobacteria in the marine environment. His studies in carbon fixation have focused on the control of this process in oceanic river plumes. Such plumes have tremendous CO2 drawdown, yet also behave as areas of high levels of recycled production.
Dr. Paul's group is using their experience in measuring mRNA as a surrogate for microbial gene expression in the design of hand-held and autonomous sensors (in conjunction with the Center for Ocean Technology) for the detection of noxious microorganisms in coastal environments.
Most students in my lab are engaged in the Marine Resource Assessment program and are collectively pursuing a diversity of methods that apply to living resource biology and management. The common thread is coastal fish and shellfish habitat use and quality. One research focus has been spatio-temporal interactions between coastal fishes and their prey, particularly as these are affected by freshwater flows to the coast and other physical processes. Personnel from my lab have quantified estuarine ichthyoplankton and invertebrate zooplankton responses to freshwater flows from more than 18 watersheds along Florida's west coast; these results have been used to manage environmental flows. The same type of plankton data is being used to develop community-level metrics for establishing the extent of eutrophication in coastal water bodies. In another line of research, we use stable isotope analysis to investigate factors that influence coastal biomass pathways. We also use stable isotopes to contrast fish isotopic signatures with geographic background maps (isoscapes), which allows us to identify site fidelities and movements that determine geographic habitat connectivity. Recently, we added DNA barcoding and hydrodynamic models to our effort to characterize habitat connectivity during egg and larval stages. In a related effort, we have been using otolith microchemistry (LA-ICP-MS) to connect adult fish to the geographic regions they used as nursery habitat and to detect exposure of individual fish to stressful events such as oil spills.