Nearshore Marine Fish Research Program
Department of Biology
18111 Nordhoff Street
Northridge, CA 91330-8303
B.S. Biology, Louisiana State University, 2012
Fishing impacts on the trophic structure of kelp forest fishes in Southern California
Determining the effect to which top-down and bottom-up controls influence an ecosystem is a puzzle ecologists continuously strive to solve. In marine ecosystems, overfishing has dramatically altered community structure and function worldwide. This intense fishing pressure is frequently focused on higher trophic level predatory species, and the most widely used response in fisheries management to overfishing has been the ban of all harvesting practices within a marine protected area (MPA). This study aims to analyze the effect fluctuations in predatory biomass, through MPA protection, have on lower trophic level kelp forest fishes. Furthermore, I plan to provide the first standing stock biomass estimate of one of the top elusive predators within the kelp beds, the giant sea bass (Stereolepis gigas). Conventional underwater belt transects and manta tows will be conducted throughout a wide geographic distribution of Southern California to survey fish populations. Surveys will be estimating fish size by conventional means as well as using length-calibrated lasers with video technology to help eliminate bias.
Gaining insight to the trophic role of top predators is essential to understanding the ecology and community dynamics of the critical kelp forests of southern California, as well as providing information for fisheries management in the future.