Putting endangered wildlife in a corner

Photo by Aziz Saltik (flickr)

Our new paper on extinction risk in marine and terrestrial species is out today in PNAS, “Range contraction enables harvesting to extinction.” Led by Matthew Burgess at UCSB, the research shows that shrinking distributions puts many animals at further risk from extinction as their abundance decline. While harvesters (fishers or hunters) are typically expected to stop harvesting when a species becomes rare and the costs of harvest become too high, contraction of a species into dense clusters can keep harvesting profitable, even at very low abundance. Examples of species with these contractions include Bengal tigers, Asian elephants, and bluefin tunas.

News coverage:

Patrick defends!

Patrick Flanagan very successfully presented and defended his MS Thesis today, “Community-temperature mismatch in a benthic marine ecosystem.” He investigated whether changing temperature could be used to understand ecological community change on the northeast US continental shelf. Congratulations, Patrick! He’s graduating from the Graduate Program in Oceanography.

New paper: where did Nemo go?

Photo of orange clownfish courtesy of Simon Thorrold.

Baby fish float on ocean currents. So where do they go? Our paper out this week in Current Biology uses DNA to answer that question for clownfish in Papua New Guinea, and about 20 km is the simple answer. What’s especially exciting is that we show how very common and easily measured population genetic patterns called “isolation by distance” accurately measure the larval dispersal process. We validated our answer against observations of dispersal for hundreds of individual larvae (an incredibly time-consuming endeavor). Our findings help open the door to applying the isolation by distance method to a much wider range of marine species.

This work was the result of an exciting collaboration with Serge Planes, Geoff Jones, Simon Thorrold, Pablo Saenz-Agudelo, Michael Berumen, Michael Bode, and others.

New paper! Marine species respond rapidly to winter temperatures

Bluefish illustration courtesy of fishwatch.gov
Bluefish illustration courtesy of fishwatch.gov

Jim Morley has a new paper just online early in Global Change Biology (here). Studying marine fish and invertebrates of the coast of the southeast US, he found that winter temperatures quickly and predictably affect species’ distribution and abundance in the following year. In particular, we found a greater abundance of southern, warm-water species following mild winters. We also found that these impacts cascade up to affect fisheries catches for many species. Interestingly, these responses appear in a region that has not been warming over the last couple decades, though 1-3 °C of warming is expected by the end of this century. Warmer winters likely will result in increased abundance of species with more southern affinities, such as white and pink shrimp, southern hake, and star drum.

Ed at the EcoSummit in Montpelier

tekwa_talk_slideEd was at the EcoSummit conference in Montpellier (Sept. 1) to present “Why do fisheries evolve different harvest rates?”.  The conference theme was Engineering Sustainability, but covered a wide range of sustainability topics. Also a nice chance to drink some wine and visit with Michel Loreau!

Becca gives departmental seminar at Bowdoin College

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Photo from Bowdoin College

Becca was invited to present her PhD and post-doctoral research in the departmental seminar series at Bowdoin College, her alma mater. She presented a talk entitled “Climate, fishing, and marine food webs: predator-prey interactions in a changing ocean.” Her research and career to date were featured on the Bowdoin website! See http://community.bowdoin.edu/news/2016/10/becca-selden-06-looks-into-the-sea-to-study-climate-change/