Congratulations to Dr. Becca Selden, New Faculty at Wellesley College!

Becca will be joining the faculty as an assistant professor of marine biology at Wellesley College, a premier liberal arts college in Massachusetts, in September. Wellesley has a strong commitment to undergraduate research, and she hopes to launch the careers of the next generation of women scientists. Her research program will investigate the cumulative impacts of harvest, climate change, and species invasion on marine ecosystems, utilizing the Gulf of Maine as a key local study system in addition to her regional and global efforts using quantitative tools. She looks forward to continuing her collaborative work with NOAA colleagues at NEFSC, and intends to engage with policymakers on issues of conservation and fisheries management relevant to Northeast coastal ecosystems.

Congratulations, Becca!

Alternative stable states in conservation behavior in PNAS

Ed Tekwa (postdoc in the lab) led a study just out in PNAS, “Path-dependent institutions drive alternative stable states in conservation.” 

A commercial fishing boat in Reykjavik, Iceland.

We hear almost every day in the news about environmental disasters, but the world is also full of many environmental success stories. Why do we succeed at conservation some of the time, but fail other times? In our paper, we studied people’s decisions about whether to conserve or to over-harvest a renewable resource like fish or timber. Surprisingly, we found that people often get trapped by their past decisions. If they start out over-harvesting, they tend to continue over-harvesting. But the opposite is also true: once people start conserving, this behavior is also self-perpetuating. We built a mathematical model for this behavior, and showed that it explains global patterns in fisheries decisions better than any previous theory.  Our results challenge the conventional expectation that collapse of fast-growing resources is unlikely, but also offer hope that conservation is much easier to continue once we start.

Welcome to Jude Kong!

We’re excited to welcome Dr. Jude Kong to the lab! Jude brings a wealth of experience in mathematical modeling and applied math, including for diseases and aquatic ecosystems. He has his PhD from U. Alberta and will be working on process-based models for shifting species distributions. Welcome, Jude!

Reuters in-depth reporting highlights our work

Reuters released the results of a more than year-long investigation into climate change, fish, and fisheries called Ocean Shock that we supported throughout. The data in their visualizations are from OceanAdapt and their summer flounder story builds from our NSF-funded Coastal SEES research with Kevin St. Martin, Bonnie McCay, Eli Fenichel, and Simon Levin. We’re all excited to see Mo Tamman and the rest of the team’s wonderful storytelling and science communication skills brought to bear on this important issue!

Communities respond within a year to temperature variation

Map of survey area with sub-regions colored by magnitude of long-term change in CTI in spring.

Patrick’s paper from his MS is now online early at Ecography! He studied temporal change in community composition across the Northeast US continental shelf and found that changes through time could be explained by species associations with bottom temperature. Measured as the Community Temperature Index (CTI), composition changed by about one third of a degree (°C) for every 1 °C increase in bottom temperature on average. Species have non-linear responses to changes in temperature, however, and these nonlinearities scaled up to a nonlinear relationship between composition and temperature.

August 2018 Conferences!

Several lab members went off to scientific conferences this month to give talks, present posters, and meet others in the field! Becca, Allison, and Mike attended the American Fisheries Society’s annual meeting in Atlantic City,  Allison and Lisa went to New Orleans to attend the Ecological Society of America’s annual meeting, and Jennifer took off to Montpellier, France for the 2018 Joint Congress on Evolutionary Biology.



Jennifer’s paper published in Evolutionary Applications!

Jennifer and Malin’s paper, Genomic signatures of environmental selection despite near‐panmixia in summer flounder, was released for early-view in Evolutionary Applications. The paper describes how summer flounder are a single population based on many genetic markers, yet the frequency of some genetic markers are associated with their environment, particularly bottom temperature. This suggests that although summer flounder are capable of high dispersal and lots of genetic mixing, spatially variable environmental selection is likely resulting in adaptation to local environmental conditions.

Pinsky Folks in the Philippines for Bioinformatics and Genomics Workshop

Malin and Rene just came back from the Philippines where they participated in a 12-day bioinformatics and genomics workshop hosted at Silliman University. This annual workshop is part of a larger NSF-funded PIRE project investigating Centennial Genetic and Species Transformations in the Epicenter of Marine Biodiversity.

Click here to learn more!