2019-20 Global Change Fellow
Statement of purpose:
My research interests have always been fairly broad, ranging in disciplines including biogeochemistry, community ecology, fisheries science, remote sensing, and coastal geomorphology. However the main connective objective is a driving curiosity about coastal marine systems and a desire to conserve and restore these key ecosystems in the face of anthropogenic and climate-related effects.
Description of research:
My current dissertation research focuses on the spatiotemporal variability in recruitment dynamics of juvenile blue crabs, one of North Carolina’s most economically important fishery species. In particular, I’m focusing on their nursery habitat use and availability and how it may be affected by climate-related factors such as shoreline erosion and storm frequency. Through this study I address how the current juvenile blue crab population in North Carolina has fluctuated following an over fishing event in the early 2000s and whether the current supply of recruits may be related to the continued historical lows in blue crab standing stock. Furthermore, I am investigating the roles of two primary blue crab nursery habitats and assessing how factors such as wave exposure, invasive species, and shoreline erosion are affecting their availability.
This research and the expected outcomes fulfill both the mission and all three science priorities of the Southeast Climate Adaptation Science Center: Priority 1 by providing resource management agencies with in-situ measurements of shoreline erosion rates as well as a geospatial model to predict how factors relating to sea-level rise affect the shoreline change rates; Priority 2 by measuring the presence/absence of key nursery habitat examining how susceptible this habitat is to loss from sea-level rise and increased storm surge; Priority 3 by comparing how two key nursery habitats contribute to an already diminished adult population we can assist managers in making decisions, which will have the highest benefit to restore blue crab spawning stock.
View a video developed by Erin describing her research as a Global Change Fellow: