I am pleased to have an energetic group with varied interests and backgrounds.
I’m interested in the effects of harvests on fish populations. Specifically, I’m investigating evolution in key life-history traits such as size- and age-at-maturity, growth rate, and reproductive investment in harvested populations. I aim to uncover the drivers of any evolution and develop tools for long term monitoring of these traits for use by managers. I am currently employing a suite of statistical and experimental techniques to ask questions within this space
Freshwater fish in the Murray-Darling Basin have been profoundly impacted by both natural and human induced change to flow regimes, temperature, and connectivity. I am interested in how these changes have influenced the productivity of native fish populations. My PhD project focusses on identifying the drivers of growth variation of Murray cod and golden perch at population and individual levels, using otoliths (ear stones) collected from throughout the Murray-Darling Basin. I also aim to determine whether small and large scale movements play a role in driving the growth of these important species.
Climate change and fisheries productivity.
My research has focused on quantifying the individual growth rates, metabolic rates and behaviours of brown trout fry, Salmo trutta. These traits, often studied individually, have been shown to play an important role in driving the “pace of life”, of an individual. The pace of life syndrome postulates that boldness (i.e. exploration and risk taking) should be positively correlated with greater metabolic capacity and, in turn, faster growth rates. After developing an understanding of how these traits relate at an individual level, I began to explore whether fishing could act selectively on one or more of these pathways. The selective removal of related traits may have the capacity to greatly affect fisheries-induced evolution and could have profound implications for the management strategies surrounding harvested populations.
My research is investigating the presence of personality traits and variable dispersal tendency in a native freshwater fish, the western carp gudgeon (Hypseleotris klunzingeri). I have found there consistent among individual differences in both boldness and sociability. I have also found that dispersal behaviour is highly repeatable within individuals and varies among the population. I am now looking to see whether dispersal behaviour can be predicted by an individual’s boldness.
I am interested in how little fish in small streams use habitat, and why they are where they are. My research involves placing small pieces of wood in a degraded stream to see if (and why) fishes might respond. Other interests include native/non-native species interactions and questions around how effective stream restoration projects actually are.
My research is focused on the impact of climate change on estuarine fish. I will look at the commercial and recreationally fished species Black Bream to determine the influence of water temperature and feeding regime on growth rate. I will test how temperature directly impacts growth rate, and assess how varying the timing and quantity of feeding impacts the growth rate of black bream, as previous studies have indicated that the main food source of black bream is predicted to decline in future conditions. Along with looking at future conditions I will also look to the past through utilizing otoliths to create growth biochronologies allowing me to assess how black bream growth rate has varied over time in changing environmental conditions.
I am going to be assessing the direct and indirect impacts of climate change on the bridled goby (Arenigobius bifrantus). This species is found abundantly in estuaries of Port Phillip Bay, which are particularly susceptible to climate change. I am specifically going to be focusing on how changes in temperature and oxygen availability impact reproductive behaviours and egg development, as well as how the bridled goby is able to compete with an invasive species. I hope to gain insight on how this species will be influenced by climate change in order to draw conclusions for how other estuarine species will be impacted as well.
I’ve recently returned to Oz after spending a few years in more northern climes, pursuing a PhD at the University of Iceland. The PhD has focused broadly on understanding if/how collective decision making in fish schools can influence migratory traditions, using Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus), a long-lived, dense schooling species of high commercial importance, for illustration. By developing a space-time model for herring wintering dynamics, and combining outputs with particle tracking simulations and otolith chemistry analyses, we were able to tease apart the intrinsic (i.e. social cues, collective learning) and extrinsic (i.e. environment, prey availability, fishing pressure) controls on dispersal, connections among juvenile and adult populations and tradition-formation in the species. The outcomes to date highlight the value of uniting demographic time series with non-stationary models in exploring evidence for collective learning in group-living animals, and in guiding spatial management decisions.
Please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to discuss student and collaborative research opportunities.
At Melbourne, I am working closely with other academic staff including:
Prof Steve Swearer
A/Prof. Tim Dempster
Dr. Eric Treml