Population dynamics and conservation of Pacific salmon
Pacific salmon stocks exhibit enormous fluctuations in abundance throughout their range, and some highly valued stocks have declined dramatically in recent decades. By combining mathematical models from fisheries with large datasets of salmon spawner-recruitment trends we are working on understanding the patterns and processes of Pacific salmon population dynamics. These include cyclical dynamics of pink and sockeye salmon, meta-population dynamics, relationships between productivity and variability, and quantifying the factors that contribute to population decline.
Ecology and management of pathogens in salmon farming ecosystems
The salmon farming industry has grown dramatically over the last few decades. Farmed salmon are raised in sea cages that are open to surrounding coastal ecosystems, where farmed salmon can greatly outnumber their wild cousins. This has fundamentally changed the structure and dynamics of salmon host-pathogen systems, and disease has become a major challenge for aquaculture, fisheries, and conservation. We are combining models and data from fisheries and epidemiology to understand the ecology of disease in wild-farmed fish systems. Some of our work on parasitic copepods has contributed to aquaculture management and policy.
Biodiversity conservation in New Zealand
New Zealand has high rates of species endemism, biodiversity loss, invasive species, and conservation investment. However, many aspects of biodiversity loss and conservation are poorly understood, such as the status and trends of freshwater fishes, the role of disease in native bird declines, and valuing the ecosystem services of biodiversity conservation investments. We are combining models with datasets as well as developing new fieldwork programs to better understand these components of biodiversity conservation in New Zealand.
Transition dynamics from fisheries to aquaculture in coastal seas
The global demand for seafood has far outpaced the supply of fish available from fisheries. Aquaculture industries have grown rapidly and are now poised to overtake fisheries in global seafood production. This marks a major transition from fishing to farming coastal seas - a process of domestication that took millenia in terrestrial landscapes is taking merely decades in coastal ecosystems.
We are interested in combining models and data to understand the bioeconomic dynamics of this transition, the implications for food supply and human health, and the long-term sustainability of coastal ecosystems.