Effects of spatial, ontogenetic, and individual variation on density dependence and demography of reef fish. Funding from the US National Science Foundation and the Royal Society of New Zealand's ISAT Fund facilitates a productive with Dr Craig Osenberg and colleagues from the University of Florida.
This project extends a long-term programme of research conducted from the Gump Station, which I began as part of an undergraduate field course offered by the University of California at Berkley, and continued through my PhD and postdoctoral research at UC Santa Barbara. We conduct intensive monitoring of fish populations, (mainly the reef fish, Thalassoma hardwicke) on many isolated patch reefs, and experimentally manipulate aspects of the system to estimate effects of spatial variation (e.g., environmental quality, landscape configuration), ontogenetic variation (e.g., age effects), and individual variation (e.g., larval quality) on density-dependent and density-independent demographic rates (e.g., recruitment, growth, survival).
Some of our work illustrates how larval quality and habitat quality can have substantial and sometimes non-intuitive effects of reef fish population dynamics:
More recently, our work in this system explores specific components of environmental quality (e.g., composition and traits of corals on patch reefs), how these components affect fish populations, and how/why the environmental components themselves change through space and time. For example, some of our most recent experiments are designed to estimate effects of vermetid gastropods on growth, survival, and morphology of corals.