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Publications 2016

Authors in bold are/were staff or students of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science and its founding organization, the Pew Institute for Ocean Science.


Geers T.M., Pikitch,E.K., Frisk, M.G. 2016. An original model of the northern Gulf of Mexico using Ecopath with Ecosim and its implications for the effects of fishing on ecosystem structure and maturity. Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography 129.

Abstract

The Gulf of Mexico (GoM) is a valuable ecosystem both socially and economically, and fisheries contribute substantially to this value. Gulf menhaden, Brevoortia patronus, support the largest fishery in the Gulf (by weight) and provide forage for marine mammals, seabirds and commercially and recreationally important fish species. Understanding the complex interactions among multiple fisheries and myriad unfished species requires tools different from those used in traditional single-species management. One such tool, Ecopath with Ecosim (EwE) is increasingly being used to construct food web models of aquatic ecosystems and to evaluate fisheries management options within a broader, ecosystem context. Here, an EwE model was developed to examine the impact of Gulf fisheries on ecosystem structure and maturity. This model builds on previously published EwE models of the GoM, and is tailored to the range and habitat of Gulf menhaden. The model presented here consists of 47 functional groups, including 4 seabird groups, 1 marine mammal group, 3 elasmobranch groups, 26 bony fish groups, 9 invertebrate groups, 3 primary producer groups and 1 detritus group. A number of different management scenarios for Gulf fisheries were modeled and the results were evaluated in terms of impacts on ecosystem maturity and development. The results of the model simulations indicated that the northern Gulf of Mexico is in an immature state (sensu Odum, 1969). Management scenarios that increased fishing pressure over time consistently resulted in a decrease in the maturity indices. In particular, we found that Gulf menhaden, as a key forage fish in the ecosystem, plays a substantial role in the structure and functioning of the ecosystem.

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Toscano, B.J., Gownaris, N.J., Heerhartz, S.M., Monaco, C.J. 2016. Personality, foraging behavior and specialization: integrating behavioral and food web ecology at the individual level. Oecologia 182(1).

Behavioral traits and diet were traditionally thought to be highly plastic within individuals. This view was espoused in the widespread use of optimality models, which broadly predict that individuals can modify behavioral traits and diet across ecological contexts to maximize fitness. Yet, research conducted over the past 15 years supports an alternative view; fundamental behavioral traits (e.g., activity level, exploration, sociability, boldness and aggressiveness) and diet often vary among individuals and this variation persists over time and across contexts. This phenomenon has been termed animal personality with regard to behavioral traits and individual specialization with regard to diet. While these aspects of individual-level phenotypic variation have been thus far studied in isolation, emerging evidence suggests that personality and individual specialization may covary, or even be causally related. Building on this work, we present the overarching hypothesis that animal personality can drive specialization through individual differences in various aspects of consumer foraging behavior. Specifically, we suggest pathways by which consumer personality traits influence foraging activity, risk-dependent foraging, roles in social foraging groups, spatial aspects of foraging and physiological drivers of foraging, which in turn can lead to consistent individual differences in food resource use. These pathways provide a basis for generating testable hypotheses directly linking animal personality to ecological dynamics, a major goal in contemporary behavioral ecology.

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Hundey, E.J., Olker, J.H., Carreira, C., Daigle,R.M., Elgin, A.K., Finiguerra, M., Gownaris, N.J., Hayes, N., Heffner, L., Razavi, R., Shirey, P.D., Tolar, B.D. , Wood-Charlson, E.M. 2016. A Shifting Tide Recommendations for Incorporating Science Communication into Graduate Training. Limnology and Presentations Oceanography Bulletin (25). DOI: 10.1002/lob.10151 *collaboration among graduate students

Scientists who are skilled in communication reap professional and personal rewards. Unfortunately, gaps exist in fostering curricular and extracurricular training in science communication. We focus our article on opportunities for university- and department-level leadership to train new scientists to communicate effectively. Our motivation is threefold: (1) communication training is key to being competitive in the increasingly diverse job market, (2) training early career scientists in communication "jump-starts" personal and societal benefits, and (3) the authors represent a group of early career aquatic scientists with unique insights on the state of and need for training. We surveyed early career aquatic scientists about their science communication training experiences. In summary, survey respondents indicated that (1) science communication training is important; (2) graduate students are interested in training that is not currently available to them; (3) departments and advisors are moderately supportive of students participating in science communication, but less enthusiastic about providing training support; and (4) graduate students lack opportunities to put science communication training into practice. We recommend departments and institutions recognize the benefits of science communication training, develop a strategy to support such training, and facilitate individualized approaches to science communication.

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Rountos, K.J. 2016. Defining Forage Species to Prevent a Management Dilemma. Fisheries 41(1)

Forage species are often defined in scientific and popular literature using terms such as "small," "schooling," "shortlived," pelagic fish found at intermediate trophic levels of marine food chains. However, not all stakeholders use the same combination of terms, and their definitions include an array of fish and invertebrates that range in size, life span, and habitat preferences. Because forage species are ecologically important (e.g., Pikitch et al. 2012), often economically important (e.g., Pikitch et al. 2014), and increasingly promoted for direct human nutrition (e.g., Tacon and Metian 2013), it is both surprising and a concern that there is such an array of definitions being used. This diversity may cause undue confusion that will further complicate the sustainable management of these species. The International Symposium on the Role of Forage Fishes in Marine Ecosystems held in Alaska determined that "forage fish is a concept that many people have come to understand because of the context it is used in, but for which we lack a concrete definition. The term embodies a peculiar combination of ambiguity and precision" (Springer and Speckman 1997:773). Nearly 20 years later, we still lack a common operational definition used among scientists, industry, policy makers, and the public. Finding a better definition is important, because there is not only a global interest in understanding the trade-offs and approaches needed to sustainably manage these species (e.g., Peck et al. 2014; Essington et al. 2015; Rountos et al. 2015), but also a need for identifying them for ecolabel certifications (e.g., Agnew et al. 2014). It is time that we created a consistent definition of forage species: what they are—and are not—to prevent a future dilemma.

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Ojwang, W.O., Obiero, K.O., Donde, O.O., Gownaris, N., Pikitch, E.K., Omondi, R., Agembe, S., Malala, J., Avery, S.T. 2016. Lake Turkana: World's Largest Permanent Desert Lake (Kenya). The Wetland Book.

Abstract

Located in the "cradle of mankind" of the East African Rift Valley, Lake Turkana is distinguished as both the world's largest permanent desert lake and alkaline water body. With a surface area of about 7,560 km2, Lake Turkana is a highly pulsed, variable system as a result of its closed-basin nature, arid surroundings, and its strong dependence on River Omo for the majority of its inflow, which originates as rainfall over the Ethiopian highlands. In this article we describe the lake's unique ecosystem and associated vicissitudes, diverse habitats and incredible biodiversity, and ecosystem services. Although parts of the lake and lower Omo Delta have been zoned as an international biosphere reserve, Lake Turkana and the region are facing immense threat from anthropogenic activities. A combination of external factors (hydropower dams, irrigation schemes, climate anomalies) and internal drivers (demography, economic growth) will strongly impact the Lake Turkana basin over the next decade. In turn, this will have significant negative consequences on resource productivity and the wellbeing of local communities.

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