Student Vignettes

Julie Vecchio

About my research

I use natural tags to study the movements and food habits of economically important reef fish species throughout the Gulf of Mexico. I am using the stable isotope signature of various fish tissues, including eye lenses, muscle, and liver to investigate movement and diet patterns of groupers, snappers, and other reef-associated fishes at varying timescales. Comparing the stable isotope signature of the muscle and liver from a single individual shows the short-term movement (1-3 months) of that individual. Studying the stable isotope signature of the eye lenses of individual fish gives a pattern of trophic level and movement for that individual over the entire lifespan of the fish. I am combining these techniques to understand the short-term and long-term movements and food habits of several important reef fish species on the West Florida Shelf and across the entire Gulf of Mexico.


The USF College of Marine Science is an excellent inter-disciplinary oceanography program. In addition, there are numerous state and federal-level resources available in the immediate vicinity, especially for the MRA program. As an MRA student, I can get samples or advice from FWRI, NOAA, and USGS without even leaving downtown St. Petersburg. It’s an extremely integrated community.

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