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Micro-slices of fish scales reveal effects of dams on lungfish diet

Australian lungfish are living fossils that have survived virtually unchanged since their appearance in the fossil record 340 million years ago. They are well known to have the nifty ability to survive for several days out of water. Now, a new study uses their scales to infer what they ate over periods of more than 50 years. The new technique first ages the lungfish by measuring radioactive signatures in the scales that track radioactivity from nuclear weapons testing in the 1950s and 1960s, and then having dated micro-slices of the fish scales, each slice is examined for carbon and nitrogen isotopes that unveil their food sources throughout their life. 

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Two new species of male mouth-brooding fish described

Two new species of jawfishes (family Opistognathidae) have been described for the first time this month. These small fish have fascinating life histories, digging burrows in sandy bottoms near reefs, and relying on males to brood eggs in their mouths. Each burrow houses one fish, and they strongly defend their burrows. The first new species, Thionyi’s jawfish (Opistognathus thionyi), is found in Vitória-Trindade Chain and Fernando de Noronha Archipelago off Brazil; while the second new species, the Brazilian dusky jawfish (Opistognathus vicinus), is found off mainland Brazil. 

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Little change in polar bear numbers in the Chukchi Sea

Polar bears, like other large predators, are hard to track and count, and available data is often fragmentary and difficult to piece together. Now, a new model provides estimates for key parameters for polar bears in the Chukchi Sea off north-western Alaska, by combining available data from telemetry, marking and recapturing, and counts. The model estimates that 83% of females give birth every year, that litter sizes are 2.11 per year, and that survival is about 90% for both males and females. 

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Fish processors pay higher prices after individual quotas

Individual fishing quotas have been introduced to the Pacific whiting fishery off the US west coast, involving allocating rights to fish quota to both harvesters (80%) and processors (20%) and letting individuals decide when and how to to catch and land fish. A unique dataset of prices and costs allowed researchers to examine the impact of this change on land-based processors. 

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Strong individual rights emerge naturally in gaming experiments

Many natural resources, such as grazing lands, forests, and fisheries, can be managed either by lots of people communally (common property), by top-down regulation, or by individual rights. A new analysis shows experimentally that individual rights emerge as the preferred choice when people are given freedom to choose among different clubs that each decide how to manage part of the resource. 

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Fantastic beasts and where to find them

New and weird species are being discovered all the time, and the latest is the Narungga Frogfish (Histiophryne narungga), which has just been described. The name honors the Narungga tribe of indigenous Australians who traditionally inhabited the lands in which it was found. The new species comes in a variety of dotted forms, occurs in southern and western Australia, and is a member of the order Lophiiformes. 

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The three pillars of fisheries sustainability

Fisheries management is often seen as a balancing act that aims for economic development, environmental protection and social development. Previous work shows that overfishing or other forms of poor ecological health, reduces economic profits; and it has long been assumed that pursuit of profits leads to poor social outcomes for fishing communities. But now a new analysis of 121 fisheries worldwide suggests this second assumption may not hold, based on scores of 68 different ecological, economic, and social metrics for each fishery. 

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Centennial Story 48: Nathan Taylor (Post Doc, 2006-2008) and Erin McClelland (MS 2004; PhD, 2008)

The SAFS alumni at our wedding

“Having recently moved, we sometimes find ourselves asking ‘how did we end up living in Madrid?’ The answer lies in part in our professional and personal experiences gained at SAFS.”
“While at SAFS, I studied salmon hatchery/wild interactions and growth through the lens of quantitative genetics with Kerry Naish”, says Erin. “I was also a teaching assistant for the Conservation Genetics class for several years, which had a considerable impact on my continued interest in science education.”
Nathan was at SAFS as a post-doctoral fellow from 2006 to 2008. 

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