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CEI’s Liane Nowell Embarks on her Masters on the Cape

August 2, 2012

After graduating from Queen’s University with a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Biology, Liane was offered a job at CEI working in the Flats Ecology and Conservation Program. She has since been given the opportunity to pursue her master’s in science through Carleton University, Canada at CEI. With the supervision of Dr. Steven Cooke (Carleton University, Fish Ecology and Conservation Physiology lab) and Dr. Cory Suski (University of Illinois, Ecological Physiology lab) Liane will be studying the thermal biology and spatial ecology of bonefish.

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In addition to being part of a multi-million dollar catch-and-release fishery, bonefish (Albula vulpes) are an essential component of tropical marine ecosystems and an integral part of Bahamian culture. A variety of activities are currently threatening the future of the bonefish, including global climate change.

Water temperature is the “master” environmental factor influencing the biology of fish. Water temperature exerts more control over fish than any other single abiotic factor as it influences nearly all biochemical, physiological, and life history activities. The advent of small thermal loggers that can be surgically implanted in fish has provided the opportunity to reconstruct the thermal history of fish over an entire year. Using a swim tunnel Liane will also be investigating the role of temperature on bonefish swimming energetics and metabolic rates.

Given the ecological and economic importance of coastal areas, coupled with the influence of thermal phenomena such as El Niño and the impact of global warming in these ecosystems, a lack of information demands a broader investigation into the thermal physiology and ecology of fish. This data will be modeled to examine the consequences of different climate change scenarios on bonefish. Liane believes this area of research has great potential to address novel questions regarding bonefish conservation and management.

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