Ecology of mangrove fishes
We are examining the response of ecotonal fish communities in the southern Everglades to hydrologic disturbance. In particular, we are examining the spatiotemporal spatiotemporal dynamics of the fish communities of ecotonal and estuarine habitats in response to key ecosystem drivers (freshwater inflow and salinity). Our focus is on the mesoconsumers, both freshwater and estuarine taxa, their foraging behavior, diets and the implications of these for community dynamics and ecosystem processes. Our central question is how does hydrologic disturbance (both natural and anthropogenic) modify predator-prey interactions among fishes inhabiting mangrove and marsh habitats along the ecotone, and what are the implications for food web structure and nutrient fluxes? This research is affiliated with the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-term Ecological Research program (http://fce.lternet.edu/) and funded by the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (http://www.evergladesplan.org)
Interactions between native & nonnative fishes
Biological invasions provide an excellent model system for the study of species interactions and novel selection pressures. Invasions bring into contact species that have no common evolutionary history, and thus lack adaptive responses to an invader. We are interested in examining how both the invader and members of the invaded community respond to and are affected by these novel interactions (i.e., novel prey, predators, and competitors) in both ecological and evolutionary timescales. We are also particularly interested in examining the role of behavior as an underlying mechanism mediating species interactions in the context of anthropogenic disturbance. Behavioral traits such as boldness and voracity may be key to the invasion success and spread of non-native taxa. We are currently examining behavioral traits in the African jewelfish, a recent invader in the southern Everglades. Use jewelfish and marsh pictures.
Canals as fish habitat
We have a limited understanding of how modified aquatic landscapes function as habitat for both native and non-native fishes. These canals may function as novel ecosystems, dominated by non-native taxa, and whose structure and function are different from that of natural fish habitats of the Everglades. We are particularly interested in the contribution of non-native taxa to fish communities in canals, and examining predator-prey interactions among native and non-natives. As part of this work, we also aim to better understand how canals function as sources for new invasions and the potential for control and containment of these species in these and other habitats. This research is funded by the National Park Service and their Critical Ecosystem Studies Initiative, http://www.nps.gov/ever/naturescience/cesi.htm