Riley Gallagher

Global Change Fellow Alumnus | Department of Applied Ecology | North Carolina State University

Spring 2018 Global Change Fellow

Statement of purpose:

As I pursue a career in fisheries management, I plan to use an adaptive, interdisciplinary approach to address relevant climate-related issues, such as ocean acidification and sea-level rise, as they pertain to marine and anadromous species.

Description of research:

My research interests focus on marine fisheries ecology and conservation. I am specifically interested in understanding population genetics and life history adaptability of migratory cobia in coastal North Carolina and Virginia waters. I joined Dr. Jeff Buckel’s lab in 2017 as a M.Sc. candidate to investigate the population structure of cobia using acoustic telemetry and genetic analysis. The population structure of cobia on the eastern U.S. is not clearly defined and subject to variable oceanic conditions. My research works collaboratively with state and federal agencies as part of an interdisciplinary, coast-wide program. The goal of this program is to determine where boundaries should be drawn for stock assessments and management, while providing essential baseline cobia movement data that managers can use to anticipate and adequately plan for climate change. My research interests specifically align with SE CSC Science Theme 5: Coastal and Nearshore Marine Environments, and correspond to both Task 1: establish ecological baseline conditions and describe current climate trends and impacts in coastal systems and Task 3: Describe how estuaries and marine resources are affected by increased temperatures, sea level rise, changes in runoff patterns to the coast, ocean acidification, and changes in the destructive potential of tropical storms. The temperature induced feeding and spawning migration of cobia elicit them as ideal marine ecosystem “sentinels” for early signs of temperature change and as a way to explore effects of predicted oceanography (e.g. temperatures, cold-water fronts) on cobia migration, catch, and management.

See a video describing Riley’s research: