Friday, April 29, 2016

The Science PhD Experience: My Life is a Series of Home Improvement Stores

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Note: The following content has been cross-posted from my personal science blog, Wanderlust.

Never when I signed up for this whole PhD "thing", did I think that further down along the line I would wander down the aisles of countless formless and faceless Home Depots and Lowes, familiarizing myself with PVC epoxies, pipe cutters, types of quick-pour concrete, and erratically color-coded lengths of rebar. While I am in the very last throes of the natural science component of my dissertation, for stretches within the last year, nary a week would pass without at least one, if not several, trips searching for the miscellanea one needs to make a bare-bones scientific project happen.

Monday, April 11, 2016

What is a stock assessment? Part I


Assessing in style
           Stock assessments are an important part of the way we manage fisheries in the U.S. A lot goes into a single stock assessment, and they can be quite daunting to navigate. However, when you break them down into their component parts they really aren’t so bad! In this post we will begin to explore stock assessments by introducing the concept and talking a bit about the process involved with stock assessments in Federal waters (*in Florida, marine waters past 3 miles offshore in the Atlantic and past 9 miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico are governed by the Federal government through NOAA’s Fisheries branch, and waters inshore of that are governed by the State through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; they also use stock assessments, and we will tackle their management process in a future post).

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Fishing for Bedding Bass - Benign Past Time or Cause for Concern?

It’s March, and the signs of spring are popping up everywhere in Florida. Days are longer, temperatures are warmer, and trees are beginning to bud. Birds, flowers, and bees are becoming more active, and with the warming temperatures, underwater activities are heating up too. More specifically, Florida Largemouth Bass (Micropterus floridanus) are beginning to move into the shallows as they seek to begin their spawning season.

If you’re an angler this time of year means the potential to target bass that are both highly vulnerable and readily accessible, with a legitimate shot at landing a big one. This is in large part due to the reproductive biology of Largemouth Bass; they excavate nests in shallow water commonly visible from afar, display parental care (i.e. they protect the young in their nests), and will  attack predators (or lures) that enter their nests. The process of specifically fishing for bass as they defend their brood (eggs and young) is known as bed fishing, and a simple internet search will return hundreds of websites that detail specific baits, techniques, and strategies to target bedding bass (Figure 1). Indeed, bed fishing is a practiced by many and staunchly opposed by many others. At the center of the debate is whether the removal of guarding parents is bad for the overall bass population. Numerous studies have shown that bed fishing can cause individual nests to fail, but does this scale up to the entire population?

Figure 1. One of many websites that provide detailed information on how to catch bedding bass