Effective management of marine resources requires the successful integration of rigorous scientific information, practical management strategies, and clear policy directives. My research is focused on the interface between biology, management, and policy. I examine the ecology of marine fishes and invertebrates, human impacts, and the role of the community in managing marine resources. Through collaboration with state, federal, and international agencies, I am involved in a range of activities including basic research, research with implications towards resource management, and environmental policy development.
Major Areas of Research
In Hawaii, my colleagues and I have improved the management of the Coral Reef aquarium fishery along the Kona-Kohala coast by developing a collaborative research program with the Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources, University of Hawaii Sea Grant, University of Hawaii Hilo, and the local community. Working with the Hawaii State Legislature, I was involved in the establishment of nine marine protected areas (MPAs) developed to enhance reef fish populations and minimize conflicts between aquarium fish collectors and the local community. Using a community-based management approach combined with underwater scuba surveys, we helped to establish and monitor the long-term success of these protected areas, which have resulted in a 72% increase in aquarium fish populations since 1999, an enhancement of the local fishery, and a decline in user conflicts. Our lab is also involved in a cooperative fishery research program with aquarium collectors aimed at improving knowledge and management of the fishery.
Along the Pacific Coast Groundfish populations (such as rockfish, lingcod, and other bottom dwelling fishes) and their associated deep-sea fisheries on the continental shelves of Washington, Oregon, and California are at an all time low. Working in collaboration with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service; Fish and Wildlife departments in these states; and with several universities and non-profit organizations, we are exploring, mapping, and quantifying groundfish habitats using submersibles at depths down to 1000 m. Specifically, we are examining the role of deep-sea invertebrates, especially cold water corals and sponges, and how they may be important as habitat (food, shelter, or other interactions) for commercially important fishes. Information from this work has been used to formulate management strategies for west coast bottom trawling and in the development of legislation in Congress.
Intertidal black abalone populations in California have been declining precipitously since the mid-1980s, largely in response to an introduced disease that is linked to climate change. Since 1986 I have been monitoring abalone population in central and southern California with a long-term goal of restoring depleted populations. Populations on Santa Cruz Island have decreased over 99% since surveys in 1986. These declines have occurred with significant changes in abalone habitat which will additional limit restoration efforts. In 2003 I was appointed to a NOAA advisory committee to help draft a report on long-term population trends for listing under the Endangered Species Act. Black abalone were listed as endangered in early 2009.
My long-term goals are to develop a generalized understanding of linkages between science, management, and policy in order to develop stable and effective resource management strategies. These strategies include training students, scientists, managers and the general public to think holistically and develop collaborative partnerships to solve societal problems. We use Integral Ecology as a tool to understand and develop these linkages.
Past Research Projects
- Geographic Variation and Mass Mortality in Black Abalone (1986-2004)
- Twenty Years of Change at Pelekane Bay, Hawaii (1995-96)
- Effects of Dredging on Coastal Habitats in Pohnpei, Micronesia (1997-98)
- Effects of Aquarium Fish Collectors on Reef Fish in Kona (1996-98)
- Diver Impacts on Coral Reefs at Kealakekua Bay Hawaii (1996-98)
- West Hawaii Aquarium Project (1998-present)
- Heceta Bank Fish-Habitat Associations (2000-02)
- Astoria Canyon: Continuing the Lewis and Clark Legacy (2001)
- Ontogenetic Patterns of Habitat use by Reef Fish in Hawaii (2004-2008)
- Structure-forming Invertebrates of Cordell Bank (2002-03)
- Structure-forming Invertebrates in the Cowcod Conservation Areas (2003-05)
- Megafaunal Invertebrate-Fish Associations in Submarine Canyons (2003-08)
- Applications of Integral Ecology to Fisheries Management (2004-05)
- Long-term Population Trends in Black Abalone along the eastern Pacific coast (2005-07)
- Fort Vancouver Powder Magazine Coral Study (2005)
- Structure-forming Invertebrates in the California Islands "Foot Print" (2005-07)
- Tropical Marine EBM Feasibility: Case Studies and Comparative Analyses (NCEAS Workshop: 2007-08)
- Megafaunal Invertebrates in Relation to Fishing Intensity off central California (2006-08)
- Larval Connectivity in an Effective Network of Marine Protected Areas in Hawaii (2006-09)
- Improving Management of Hawaii's Marine Aquarium Fishery (2007-09)
- Baseline Surveys of Central California MPAs (2007-09)
- Effectiveness of MPAs for Enhancing an Aquarium Fishery and Alleviating Conflict in Hawaii (2008-10)
- Ocean Policy in the Global Marine Aquarium Trade (2009-11)
- Improving Management of Aquarium Fishery using Ecological and Socioeconomic Indicators (2010-11)
- Venting and Decompression in Yellow Tangs in the West Hawaii Aquarium Fishery (2010-11)
- Analysis of AUV (Autonomous Underwater Vehicle) Surveys in the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary (2011-12)
- Megafaunal Invertebrates in the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary (2011-13)
- Wave Energy Benthic Habitat Surveys: OSU-BOEME (2010-12)
- Evaluation of Benthic Habitats in Bering Sea Submarine Canyons (2012-13)
Current Research Projects
- Ecology and Fishing Impacts on Aquarium Fishes on Mesophotic Reefs in Hawaii (2012-present)
- Oceanographic context for baseline characterization and evaluation of MPAs along California's North Coast (2014-2017)
- Collaborative Research: Ocean Acidification: RUI: Multiple Stressor Effects of Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia on Behavior, Physiology, and Gene Expression of Temperate Reef Fishes (2014-2016)
- Changes in rocky intertidal communities in northern California in relation to fluctuations in the California Current (2014-present)