Sunday, March 13, 2011

Looking back at Tidewater 2011

I recently returned from the 25th annual meeting of the Tidewater Chapter of the American Fisheries Society held at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.  The conference was pretty sweet and the area was beautiful.  I will give a very brief recap of some of the talks that I found particularly interesting.

I'll start of by saying I thought the talks were as a whole were better than last year.  That comment is meant to take nothing away from last years presenters but more as a compliment to this years presenters.

Posters from ECU students included those by Andrea Dell'Apa, Jocelyn Kim, Joey Powers and Jeff Dobbs.  They all did a phenomenal job! 

Wayne Mabe, newly crowned president elect of the Tidewater chapter Jacob Boyd and Chuck Bangley all did an amazing job presenting their respective research.  Check out Chucks recap for a more detailed look at some of the poster and oral presentations that I fail to mention.

Because this blog is first and foremost supposed to be about otoliths I'll start with those presentations that involved otoliths.   

Chris Conroy from CBL presented on habitat use by juvenile striped bass in the Patuxent River.  Using otolith Sr:Ca ratios Chris was able to identify three predominant patterns of juvenile striped bass migration; freshwater residents, freshwater to brackish movements, and freshwater to brackish to freshwater movements.  He also matched these movements with specific ages and sizes indicating ontogenetic habitat shifts.  This project is very thorough and I am interested in the statistical analysis performed.  I found this work interesting because an alumni from our lab found similar patterns of dispersal in striped bass but not necessarily the diversity of patterns observed in this study.

Ben Gahagan also from CBL (previously at UConn), presented research on estimation of age at emigration of river herring in Connecticut rivers.  For obvious reasons I was interested in this project as Ben and I are both using otolith microchemistry to investigate the life history of river herring.  Using Sr:Ca ratios and daily age rings at the core of adult river herring otoliths Ben found that juvenile river herring spend varying amounts of time in nursery habitats before emigrating to the ocean rather than emigrating in one pulse.  It was also found that timing of emigration influenced physical attributes and life history of the fish as adults.

W.E. Smith (can't remember his name but I think it was Will) presented research on the migration of the bigmouth sleeper which is an amphidromous fish native to Puerto Rico.  Using PIT tags it was found that bigmouth sleeper are relatively sedentary.  While listening to this presentation all I could think was that it would be so interesting to combine this data with otolith microchemistry data, so I was pretty happy when I found out otolith chemistry was future goal of the project.  I think combining the two methods (traditional tagging with otolith chemistry) could provide really complete data on the life history of this fish and am interested in the outcome.  I have been thinking a lot about whether elemental concentrations are variable enough along the length of a stream that otolith chemistry could be used to track movements of fish within streams, so I am intrigued by this project.

In non-otolith projects...
(sorry I can't remember first names for most of these presenters)

B. Greenlee presented on introduced blue catfish in Virginia tidal river systems.  This was interesting because it demonstrated the importance of long term data sets for measuring the impact of invasive species on a system.  These systems have seen huge increases in blue catfish densities which could have huge ecological impacts.

A.R. Colton presented on the synchronization in the dynamics of blue crab populations.  This was a really well done presentation and despite our projects not really having anything to do with each other I think some of the analysis could be relevant to my project.

Allison Deary (?) presented a review of the ontogney of the oral jaws of Sciaenids.  I am generally interested in ontogeny and think the comparisons between species are important in explaining life history.

and finally...

J. Martin presented about the common names of fish in Japan.  While the project wasn't necessarily scientific I thought it was awesome to look at cultural traits that go into naming fish in Japan, particularly Lampridifromes (oar fish and other similar elongate species).  The links between Japanese culture and the names of these fish are pretty remarkable, and I wonder if the cultural importance of these fish may be important for their conservation?

All in all I really enjoyed the conference and hope that I am able to attend next year when it is held in North Carolina.

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