Science lab

Fisheries Ecology

Our lab investigates ecological information about economically important fish, ensuring our world-class fisheries can adapt to changes.

Understanding where fish move underwater, how they behave, and what sustains them is critical information for fisheries managers. Our lab studies these critical components to help fishermen and fishery managers to stay ahead of the curve, adapt, and maintain a profitable fishery while also sustaining fish populations. Currently, we focus on key species such as Atlantic herring, Atlantic cod, monkfish, haddock, lobster, and northern shrimp, among others. As the Gulf of Maine continues to warm more rapidly than most water bodies on the planet, understanding how fish will respond to warming is more important than ever.

We aim to:

  • Provide fisheries managers and fishermen with the continual stream of up-to-date information necessary to run sustainable, profitable operations.
  • Track how changing ocean conditions influence fish distribution, abundance, habitat associations, predator-prey interactions, behavior, movement, and more.
  • Sustain the culturally, historically, economically, and ecologically important fisheries in the Gulf of Maine.

Lab Team

Our Methods

Our lab seeks to understand ecological relationships between species, as well as how changing ocean conditions influence species’ movement, growth, and reproduction. This work helps refine sustainable management approaches.

Our lab utilizes a range of techniques for exploring fisheries ecology in the Gulf of Maine. Fisheries acoustics (sonar) is a powerful method for examining patterns in distribution, abundance and behavior. Tagging can yield insights into movement patterns, behavior and stock structure. Stable isotope analysis of tissues and otoliths (ear bones) is a cost-effective way to infer diet, origin, and how food chains are put together. Environmental DNA (eDNA) is a new and exciting technique that can shed light on fish presence and abundance; we are involved in studies to validate the use of eDNA (e.g., by comparing to more traditional means of capture and observation) for eventual use as an assessment tool. We partner with scientists from other institutions and agencies as well as with the fishing industry to conduct our field studies.

  • Fisheries acoustics
  • Otolith chemistry
  • Environmental DNA
  • Tagging studies

Research Lab Projects

  • Casco Bay Aquatic Systems Survey (CBASS)

    Casco Bay Aquatic Systems Survey (CBASS)

    CBASS, a long-term monitoring effort led by GMRI, helps us gain a better understanding of the pace and direction of changes taking place in the …

  • Environmental DNA Validation

    Environmental DNA Validation

    To advance the reliable use of eDNA in the ocean, we are conducting a validation study using acoustic technologies for quantifying fish. We have extensive …

  • Monitoring Pollution with Mussels

    Monitoring Pollution with Mussels

    To construct more complete maps of human-associated nitrogen loading to our marine ecosystems, we measure nitrogen stable isotopes in mussels from numerous coastal sites. This …

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