Adaptation strategies of coastal fishing communities as species shift poleward published in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Dr. Talia Young and co-authors found substantial community-level changes in fishing patterns since 1996. Southern trawl fleets of larger vessels with low catch diversity fished up to 400 km further north , while trawl fleets of smaller vessels with low catch diversity shrank or disappeared from the data set over time. Trawl fleets (regardless of size) with high catch diversity, however, did not dramatically change fishing location, nor disappear from the data set as often. Their analysis suggests that catch diversity and high mobility could be effective adaptation strategies to environmental change.

A map of the eastern coast of the United States showing where fishing boats from Beaufort, NC are fishing
The center of fishing activity for the large-vessel community fleet in Beaufort, N.C., by year.

Press coverage:

Fisheries’ decline to-date due to ocean warming published in Science

Chris Free and co-authors recently published an article on fisheries decline in Science. The study found that climate change has already taken a toll on many of the world’s fisheries, and overfishing has magnified the problem. Ocean warming led to an estimated 4.1 percent drop in sustainable catches, on average, for many species of fish and shellfish from 1930 to 2010. In five regions of the world, including the East China Sea and North Sea, the estimated decline was 15 percent to 35 percent, the study says.

The team combined global data on fisheries with ocean temperature maps to estimate temperature-driven changes in the the maximum sustainable yield from 1930 to 2010. Their analysis covered about one third of the reported global catch, and losing species outweighed the winners as the oceans warmed.

Haddock in the North Sea are among the climate change “losers” as a result of warming ocean temperatures. Photo: NEFSC/NOAA Scientists at Rutgers–New Brunswick and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration studied the impact of ocean warming on 235 populations of 124 species in 38 ecological regions around the world. Species included fish, crustaceans such as shrimp, and mollusks such as sea scallops. High Res

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Postdoc in process-based forecasting of species distributions

A three-year postdoctoral position is available in the Pinsky Lab at Rutgers University to develop process-based models of species distributions and applications to near-term forecasting (1-10 years). The position is ideally suited to researchers with an interest in spatial population dynamics, biogeography, climate, and process-based modeling. The research will focus on marine species for which we have a half-century of distribution and abundance records.

The postdoc will join a network of collaborators across marine science, climate science, and conservation, including partners in the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council. Extensive opportunities are available to interact with scientists at Rutgers’ Institute of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences; the NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Lab; the Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science; and beyond. The postdoc will have the opportunity to mentor graduate and undergraduate students, design and lead research, manage and analyze large datasets, prepare conference presentations and manuscripts, and coordinate a research collaboration. Research in the Pinsky Lab more broadly uses empirical data, mathematical models, and population genomics to study global change in the ocean.
The ideal candidate will be skilled with spatial- and size-structured population models, statistics, and data analysis. Experience with Approximate Bayesian Computation and climate data is a plus. Applicants with evidence of creativity, productivity, strong oral and written communication abilities, and enthusiasm are especially encouraged to apply, particularly those that bring a new perspective, new ideas, or a new skillset to the team. A promising record of publication is highly valued, as is an interest in engaging closely with partners in conservation and management. The successful applicant will be an independent, motivated problem solver who communicates well and enjoys working in a collaborative setting.

**Position details**The postdoc start dates are flexible, though earlier dates are preferred. Salary starts at $54,000 per year and includes health insurance, retirement, tax savings plans, and other benefits. Funding for conferences and a computer are available.  This is a one-year appointment with the expectation that it will be renewed for two more one-year increments (three years total), contingent upon satisfactory performance.

**Application process**Review of applications will begin on March 24, 2019 and will continue on a rolling basis. Interested candidates should submit: 1) a one­-page cover letter that describes their interest in the position, their relevant background, and their preferred start date, 2) a CV, and 3) the names and contact information of three scientists familiar with their work.

Fishbowl Chat #1

As part of the openscapes initiative, the Pinsky Lab met this week to discuss better data science, starting with getting everyone in the lab connected to our
GitHub organization.

We began by explaining the difference between git and GitHub and then had a 20 minute group discussion about what we should be putting on GitHub and how we wanted to use it as a group tool.

We spent the rest of the hour in breakout groups addressing different obstacles people faced as beginner GitHub users. One group was creating accounts, one group was connecting to the pinskylab organization, and another was connecting RStudio to GitHub.

It was great to see people migrating from group to group as issues were solved. By the end of our time together, it seemed like everyone had a good handle on using GitHub to share work with the rest of the team.

This open communication has leaked into the general discussion going on in our open work space. Lab members seem more comfortable with asking teammates for help, and it is exciting to see all of us getting on the same page with our data science.

American Lobster Density from OceanAdapt featured in Washington Post Article

Maps of the distribution density of American Lobster (Homarus americanus) through time from OceanAdapt featured in Zoeann Murphy and Chris Mooney’s article in the Washington Post

Pinsky lab data on the distribution density of the American Lobster were featured in Zoeann Murphy and Chris Mooney’s article, “Gone in a Generation: Across America, climate change is already disrupting lives”, published in the Washington Post. The interactive article details the impact of climate change on forests and fisheries, and the magnitude of floods and fires across the U.S., in several visually stunning and compelling stories.

These data, as well as data on many marine fish and invertebrate distributions around the United States are available on our OceanAdapt website.

Becca Speaks About Warming Oceans on New Orleans Public Radio

Dr. Becca Selden spoke with WWNO’s Travis Lux on ocean warming and its impact on marine life and fisheries. The conversation is in response to Cheng et al.’s recent article in Science, which suggests that oceans are warming faster than previously predicted, and Morley et al. 2018, which predicts marine species range shifts around North America. Click the link below to listen to their conversation, or read the transcript.

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!