Breeding like rabbits doesn’t work for fish

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Fast-growing fish like these sardines are more sensitive to excessive harvest than other, slower-growing species, contrary to common patterns on land. Photo credit: John Loo (CC BY 2.0). https://flic.kr/p/9HwkEr

We have a new paper out in Proceedings B, “Fishing, fast growth and climate variability increase the risk of collapse.” Analyzing data from fisheries around the world, we show that patterns in the ocean are nearly the opposite of those on land. Slow-growing species like lions and tigers may be most at risk of extinction on land, but in the ocean, it’s the “rabbits” that are most sensitive. We find that fast-growing species like flounder and sardines are more than three times more likely to collapse when they experience overfishing than their slower-growing cousins. Populations that experience strong climate variability are also more at risk.

Tim Essington also had a nice paper exploring some of these patterns among small pelagic species earlier this year. Definitely worth a read, plus the following discussion (here and here).

Some of the coverage:

Jim Morley joins the lab as a postdoc!

Jim Morley started work back in early January, but as of last week, has joined us at Rutgers. He previously finished a Ph.D. with Jeff Buckel at NC State working on bluefish, and his interests include climate change, food webs, and fisheries. He’ll be working on a research project with the Pew Charitable Trusts and the South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council to understand whether climate variability is influencing food webs in the southeast U.S. We’re excited to have Jim join us!bluefish

A flurry of presentations

  • Ryan gave at talk at the ASLO meeting on February 25 in Grenada, Spain, “Long-term changes in North American coastal communities.”
  • Malin presented a poster at the Kavli Frontiers of Science meeting in Jerusalem on February 24.
  • Jim talked on a panel affiliated with the March SAFMC meeting about our new project on Southeast Atlantic climate impact on fish.
  • Malin’s off to Brazil to give two talks at the Effects of Climate Change on the World’s Oceans conference (March 22 and 25).

aslosafmcICES_logo_organizers PICES_logo_organizers

Where’s my fish? OceanAdapt website is live

OceanAdapt splash pageEvery wondered where you favorite fish is? In collaboration with NOAA Fisheries, we’ve launched a new website today called OceanAdapt that provides information on climate related changes in the distribution of the nation’s valuable marine fish stocks. There is growing concern that more needs to be done to prepare for and adapt to these changing conditions, but much of the basic information on what’s happening out in the ocean has historically been scarce and hard to find. For scientists, the website also provides easy access to the NOAA bottom trawl survey data.

NOAA has a nice article about the website, plus it was first on their splash page for a few days.

OceanAdapt is featured in the newly launched U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit (also here).

The indicators on the website are also slated to be part of the National Climate Indicators System, which is designed help track climate impacts across the U.S.

We have a bit of press generated on the site as well:
Rutgers Today
National Marine Fisheries Service
NJ.com
Providence Journal
New Jersey 101.5
Inquisitr
World Fishing
Futurity
FishnewsEU

Lab fishing trip!

Our plans to head out fishing for fluke (inspired by our fluke genetics project) were dead in the water when the party boat stayed in port for repairs. Instead, we went out fishing for bluefish. A good 4-6′ swell, but a great time on the water. Jennifer caught the first two, and Ryan caught the most (3). Turns out that the adrenaline of reeling one in is a good cure for seasickness. And they were delicious grilled that evening…DSC_1007DSC_1084 More photos here.

ESA is coming up next week!

ESA_logo_Final-hi_rezMalin is off to the Ecological Society of America meeting in Sacramento, CA next week, in part to run a special symposium on Thursday afternoon, “Climate and Beyond: Cumulative Impacts and Species Range Shifts” with Adam Wolf and Morgan Tingley. They have a great line-up of speakers, so come check it out! Malin will be presenting some of the lab’s new work on the interaction between climate velocity, fishing, and marine protected areas.

Pinsky lab contributes to National Climate Assessment

Country_map_w_titleMaybe you saw the front page of the New York Times last Tuesday? It had the image here, and it was highlighting the publication of a new report from the federal government called the National Climate Assessment. Think of it like the IPCC report, but for the U.S., and it represented the work of hundreds if not thousands of scientists synthesizing everything we know about climate and its impact on this country. It’s fantastic to see it get this attention!

We got to see one small corner of this report in the making, since Malin was on the team that wrote the 296 page “technical input” report on Biodiversity, Ecosystems, and Ecosystem Services. It was a long and deliberate process… it started with conference calls through the fall of 2011, then a meeting with dozens of experts in Palo Alto, CA to flesh out the major pieces of the report. Then writing and revising through the spring of 2012, including a special box on “Climate Impacts on New England Fisheries” that we wrote. From there, a federal committee made up of academic and government scientists synthesized all the technical input reports, plus other materials into a draft National Climate Assessment. That was posted online in January 2013 for 90 days of public comments (more than 4000 received and responded to) and extensive peer review, including from the National Academies.

Mean latitude through time of four fisheries in the Northeast U.S.
Mean latitude through time of four fisheries in the Northeast U.S.

And then… drumroll, the final report came out this May, 2014, all 829 pages of it (don’t be too intimidated, though: the website they put together is beautiful and accessible). Wow, that was a long process. But if it has the power and authority to affect the actions of our federal, state, and local governments, plus change public attitudes and business planning, it’s entirely worth it. Oh, and that box on New England fisheries? Find it here, in the Oceans chapter of the final National Climate Assessment.

Overfished species have lower genetic diversity

Photo by Winky (Flickr)
Photo by Winky (Flickr)

Genetic diversity is the raw material for evolution, and it allows species to adapt to changing environmental conditions. But can fisheries cause species to lose genetic diversity? In our meta-analysis just out this week in Molecular Ecology (OnlineEarly), we find strong evidence that the answer is yes. Previously, studies on individual populations have had somewhat ambiguous results: some studies found an effect, others did not. Our finding provides more evidence that the evolutionary impacts of overharvest are important for fisheries management, and may explain why some heavily overfished populations (e.g., Newfoundland cod) have had such a hard time recovering.