The Fish Ecology Laboratory at WHOI
|Enlarge ImageNassau grouper (Epinephelus striatus), Glover's Reef, Belize (Simon Thorrold)
|Enlarge ImageWhale sharks (Rincodon typus) are rare but widely distributed
throughout the world's tropical oceans. We are using PSAT tags to
examine movements of whale sharks in the Red Sea in collaboration with
King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).
Welcome to the Fish Ecology Laboratory at the Woods Hole
Institution. Our laboratory studies animal movements in ocean ecosystems. We use stable isotope geochemistry to track dispersal and migration of individuals in marine environments over a range of spatial and temporal scales. Satellite archival and acoustic tagging provide additional and independent data that is used to verify our geochemical tracer results and to generate new hypotheses on animal movements. By quantifying and eventually modeling the influence of movement on marine populations we hope to provide decision makers with a scientific basis for the conservation and sustainable management of ocean ecosystems.
A primary focus in our research can be broadly considered ecogeochemistry - the application of isotope and trace element geochemistry to fundamental questions in ecology. We are developing
new transgenerational mass marking approaches and DNA parentage analyses in several species of
fishes in Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea. Ultimately we hope to
generate empirical estimates of population connectivity that will be
used to validate coupled bio-physical models of larval dispersal in
coral reef ecosystems. We use geochemical signatures in the otoliths
(or "ear stones")
of marine and anadromous fishes as natural tags of natal origins.
By analyzing trace element and
stable isotope concentrations in the cores of adult otoliths, and
comparing these with ground-truthed signatures from otoliths of larvae
collected before dispersing
from natal spawning locations, we can determine natal origins and
population affinities of individual fish. Finally, we are using a combination of pop-up satellite archival transmitting (PSAT) tags and isotope geochemistry of vertebrae to examine migration connectivity of basking sharks in the Atlantic Ocean and whale sharks in the Red Sea.