Katherine Dale / 130 McAllister Way, Santa Cruz CA 95060 
© 2020

Current Research

Dispersal and connectivity of fishes in the Eastern Pacific

Doctoral research​

Broadly, I will look at the factors influencing the movement of eel larvae from Baja, Mexico to the California Channel Islands. Ultimately, I hope to understand how fish populations persist in this area of California, which has complex oceanographic conditions. My work will use 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. The lenses with which I'm examining dispersal/biogeography include:

  • Genetics (RAD-sequencing) 

  • Large-scale Bayesian statistical models

  • Otoliths/aging to examine changes in growth rate and pelagic larval duration time

  • Morphology (published -- body shape of eel larvae influences their range!)

  • Moray eel coloration and its relationship 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).

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

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 are revisiting 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. We are aiming to clarify some ranges and draw attention to information gaps that future researchers can help fill.