behavioral ecology in the anthropocene

seabirds & nutrient deposition 

Seabirds can provide important nutrient subsidies to the ecosystems they occupy. In southern California, the Channel Islands seasonally support a large population of nesting Western gulls (Larus occidentalis). Although a marine bird, these gulls have varying tendencies to forage on anthropogenic food sources (e.g. steal your french fries). I am interested in the the nutrient subsidies these seabirds provide to the Channel Islands ecosystem and how changes in diet towards may alter the effects these nutrients have on the island ecosystem.

 fish schools on coral reefs  

What is the functional ecology of a fish school on a coral reef? How does it differ from that of a solitary fish of the same species? Are we directly or indirectly changing fish schooling behavior through fishing and other anthropogenic impacts?

 I am investigating these questions by studying convict tang (Acanthurus triostegus) on the reefs of Palmyra Atoll (USA) and Moorea (French Polynesia).

are we fishing out schooling behavior?  

Schooling is a common behavior that increases reproductive success and natural predator avoidance, but makes them especially vulnerable to exploitation by modern technologies designed specifically to capture entire fish schools. Think surround nets. While we know these technologies have depleted schooling fish numbers, it remains unclear how the historical benefits of schooling behavior are counterbalanced against increased risk of harvest mortality in an Anthropocene ocean.    

All images © 2012-2019 Ana Sofia Guerra