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Current Research

Tradeoffs between phenology and geographic shifts in the Eastern Pacific

For my postdoctoral work at East Carolina University, I'm part of a large NSF-funded project examining tradeoffs of fish between shifting spawning timing (phenology) and shifting spawning location in relation to changing ocean conditions in the Eastern Pacific.

Dispersal and connectivity of fishes in the Eastern Pacific

Doctoral research​

Broadly, I examined factors influencing the dispersal, movement, and settlement of eels (and other fishes) from Baja, Mexico to the California Channel Islands. Ultimately, I worked to understand how fish populations persist in this area of California, which has complex oceanographic conditions. My work used a diverse combination of tools to examine the factors that influence dispersal of fish larvae in the Eastern Pacific, with a specific focus on eels, including:

  • Genetics (RAD-sequencing) 

  • Large-scale Bayesian statistical models

  • Morphology (published -- body shape of Eastern Pacific eel larvae predicts their larval geographic range)

  • Moray eel coloration and its relationship to habitat (published -- coloration is related to habitat)


Extracting DNA from California morays from MX and the US


Body shape is related to dispersal distance for Eastern Pacific leptocephali


California moray eels around Catalina Island show a wide range of hues, luminances, and patterns

Ichthyoplankton and zooplankton community composition around Catalina Island, CA

This side project aims to understand how the species composition and abundance of larval fish varies between location and season around Catalina Island. Read more about this project here.

We are also looking at octopus paralarvae (with the help of interns M. Narayan and E. Pilch) and zooplankton (senior thesis project of S. McCollum).

katheine dale

Me holding a self-made light trap on Catalina Island. Photo credit C. Law

moray eel from the galapagos islands

Moray eel from the Galapagos Islands

Revisiting species distributions of muraenids in the Eastern Pacific

In this project, a colleague at Scripps Institute of Oceanography and I revisted the listed species distributions of moray eels (family Muraenidae) in the Eastern Pacific. These elusive coastal fishes are a lot more important in the ecosystem than people think (they're on the top of the food chain) but our current understanding of their distributions are coarse. Read the published paper here.

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