Research

Our research addresses the fisheries, ecology and behavior of marine fishes.  These studies have included age and growth, reproduction, early-life-history, predator-prey relations, diet analysis, movements, behavioral interactions, and in general the effects of habitats both natural and artificial on the fish and invertebrate populations in the northern Gulf of Mexico.


Presently we are completing projects on: 1) Behavior, parental care and territoriality of gray triggerfish, Balistes capriscus, and competitive interactions with red snapper, Lutjanus campechanus; 2) The use of ultrasonic telemetry to estimate natural and fishing mortality of L. campechanus; 3) A comparison of fish and epibenthic communities on artificial reefs with and without a forage base; 4) Age determination through shape analysis and validation of otolith annular increments in L. campechanus.  A new project starting in 2008, concerns similar aspects of reef fish ecology, where we will examine the effects of predation on new fish recruits to artificial habitats.

Past projects have examined many aspects of marine fishes including but not limited to movements of coastal sharks, taxonomic separation of “amberjacks”, diets of gray triggerfish, fish recruitment studies to artificial reefs, and Blenniidae fish distributions on gas platforms.  One fish species that has been at the center of many of our studies has been the red snapper.  In this species we have examined stock assessments, diets, movements, early‑life habitats, and age/growth.

Almost all of our work has been conducted in the northern Gulf of Mexico and adjacent waters.  We make many trips offshore with each research cruise dedicated to a particular project.  We average about 60 days per year offshore, with most trips completed in a single day.  However, we have the vessels and capacity for extended days offshore.

Our laboratory is located on the coast in the town of Fairhope, AL.  Considered by some the most cosmopolitan and artistic town in the whole southeast.  For example, the annual arts and crafts show in Fairhope brings in about 100,000 from around the country.  The actual location is on the Gulf Coast Research and Extension Center, Alabama Agricultural Experimental Station.  We have a small building for offices and a 4000 gal closed seawater system for laboratory experiments.  The office/lab is also equipped with full access to world wide web, advanced microscopes, and other miscellaneous laboratory equipment and supplies.

Perhaps the greatest advantage of our program is the recent acquisition (2005) of the research vessel Mary Lou.  This vessel is 44 ft (35 ton) and was custom built for our needs.  We have another smaller vessel (35 ft) that we also use quite often in our offshore studies.  On many days we will have both vessels operating offshore.

203 Swingle Hall | Auburn, Alabama 36849 | (334) 844-4786 |
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