Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Featured Scientist: Meet Kristen!

Our annual surveys would not be possible without our wonderful collaborators from around the world. We'll dedicate several future blog posts to highlight these individuals, so that you can learn more about them, their research, and the valuable contributions they make to the survey. You can find previous posts here. Today we feature Kristen Ewen from the University of the Virgin Islands!

My name is Kristen Ewen, and I'm a first year Masters Student at the University of the Virgin Islands!
Kristen deploys a biodegradable drifter

My thesis project looks to model population connectivity of large bodied parrotfish of the genus Scarus within the USVI. The reason why we are focused on parrotfish is because they are one of the largest herbivores on Caribbean reefs. They remove excess algae which allows for coral dominated reefs. These fish are also delicious! Which makes them a huge staple in the artisanal fisheries of the territory. However, their populations have declined recently, primarily due to overfishing, reducing their contribution to these ecosystem services.  To better manage this genus, computer models can be developed to take larval fish found in the water column and trace them back to where they were born.  These sites where these fish are reproducing can then be protected to increase the chance of repopulating the surrounding reefs.

Kristen communicates from inside the wet lab with the winch operator, the back deck, and the bridge during a net tow

Since I am using the larval fish data collected on this cruise, I wanted to come aboard to really understand the collection process rather then just reading about it.  From this experience aboard the Nancy Foster I now have the complete story. I may have come for the sampling methods, but stayed for the cute baby parrotfish!

Beast mode! Kristen flexes her muscles on the back deck

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