Research

Below are brief descriptions of recent and current projects I have been involved in over the last couple of years.  For many topics, you can click for more information, including unpublished reports and published papers. Undergraduates are involved in virtually all of these research projects. I’m also involved in several research projects that were motivated by student ideas, but I’m really there just for support in those projects.  I encourage any student to come and talk to me if they are interested in getting involved in a research project, either one of these projects, one of their own design, or one we come up with together.

Reproductive biology of marine organisms. Most of my scientific research has centered on the reproductive biology and behavior of marine fishes, both in the tropics and temperate seas. For more on this you can go to my page on mating system evolution in fishes.  In Maine, my work is currently focused on two species:  

1. Mummichogs (Fundulus heteroclitus).  As part of an NSF grant from 2002-2006, a large number of students worked with me studying the reproductive biology of a small estuarine fish, Fundulus heteroclitus in Northeast Creek.  This work continued in 2010 with student Dale Quinby studying reproductive timing in an upstream site (more)

2.  Sea cucumber (Cucumaria frondosa). Sea cucumbers spawn in the early spring in Maine, and we have been estimating the timing and synchrony of this activity with plankton samples over a five-year period.  Early work resulted in a publication by student Nina Therkildsen and me (link here) on the magnitude of the fishery, and current work examines the synchrony of reproduction within and between sites and the cues individuals might use to trigger spawning.  This species is the focus of a fishery that has emerged over the past 20 years, and very little is known of their reproductive biology in Maine.  This work has been funded from 2002-2010 by a Rockefeller Family Grant. (more)

Downeat Maine communities and fisheries management. There are three places ways that I’m currently engaged in downeast Maine fisheries and fishing communities.

1. Work with the Penobscot East Resource Center. I have been working with Penobscot East Resource Center (PERC), a non-profit working to foster sustainable fishing communities in Downeast Maine, beginning in 2009 through a grant from the Long Cove Foundation.  Through this grant we have placed interns at PERC and held advanced tutorials in marine resource policy.  This work has also involved COA faculty Ken Cline and Todd Little-Siebold.

More details on internships at PERC

More details on advanced tutorials in marine resource policy

2. Social science research on downeast Maine fishing communties. Small fishing communities in downeast Maine are now heavily focused on lobster fishing.  If groundfish recover and local fishermen can get access to the fishery, what other factors might limit their ability to re-enter the fishery.  Along with COA faculty member Ken Cline, we are working with researcher Dr. Teresa Johnson from the University of Maine at Orono and staff from PERC to investigate these ideas.  This work is funded by a NOAA-Saltonsall grant. More details on student internships on this project can be found on the marine policy internship page.

3. The Bar Harbor Marine Resource Committee. Currently I chair this town committee, whose main mission is clam (Mya arenaria) conservation and management in Bar Harbor. You can link to the committee website here (BHMRC website).  COA students have conducted several studies over the past several years, and this work is published on the town website.

Andadromous and estuarine fishes in the Gulf of Maine.

Population genetics of estuarine fishes in Acadia National Park.

With Dr. Charles Wray at Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory and with a LL Bean Research Grant we have been investigating Through a grant from LL Bean to Dr. Charlie Wray and me, in the summer of 2010 we collected fin clips from Atlantic silverside and mummichogs (more)

Cooper at the Callahan Mine Site

Charlie Wray and Celia Chen at Callahan Mine site

Local adaptation and acclimation in a Superfund site.

Callahan crew

Joe, Celia, me, and Charlie on mine tailings

Goose Cove, just a little over an hour drive from Bar Harbor, is an old open pit mine site that has been an open estuary for the past 30+ years.  Together with our students, Dr. Charles Wray
and I have been studying the potential for local adaptation in mummichogs as part of a broader study on the organisms living in this contaminated site. Our students have examined the MHC locus for differences between cove fish and fish from “clean” sites, and currently student Robin Van Dyke is looking at parasite loads in fishes from the site compared to a clean site.  This is part of a larger project at the site that includes Charlie and me, Joe Shaw from Indiana University, and Celia Chen and Bruce Stanton from Dartmouth.

Anadromous fishes of MDI and Frenchman Bay. Along with several COA faculty members and individuals from several non-profits and government agencies, I have been interested in both the current status of anadromous fishes in our region of Maine, how we might be able to restore or enhance fish runs on local streams, and the history of both the fish and other marine populations and the history of the exploitation and management of these fisheries by local communities.  Although the focus of this work is on anadromous fishes, we are also interested in how these fishes have interacted with the groundfish and marine invertebrate populations in Frenchman’s Bay.

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