Ámbar Torres Molinari
Graduate Student | Department of Applied Ecology | North Carolina State University
Statement of purpose:
While pursuing an undergraduate degree in Environmental Sciences at the University of Puerto Rico, I developed a strong interest in fisheries ecology and conservation. Throughout the time where I conducted my research on the recruitment patterns of the sirajo goby in the estuaries of Puerto Rico, I had the opportunity to work with various remarkable fisheries conservation scientists that impacted my professional career in enormous ways. As a result of working in several fisheries technician positions, I developed a passion for the field of fisheries conservation and management where I aim to target species at risk and conservation driven research of migratory fish, which I have been able to fulfill through my current M.S. research topic by addressing the ecology, distribution, and climate change implications for the American Eel in the Caribbean region. With the ongoing detrimental effects of climate change on the planet and its species, along with the undermining of conservation management needs and climate change related political actions, I am determined to utilize my academic preparation and knowledge in fisheries, wildlife, and conservation biology to become actively involved in our primary agencies. I hope to work alongside dedicated researchers and humanitarians in order to make the livelihood of the earth’s wildlife and ecosystems a priority. I believe that the ability to protect and preserve our ecosystems and their species lies in every small proactive action that we can take.
Description of research:
My research will address the population dynamics and distributions of the American Eel through the longitudinal analysis of freshwater streams in Puerto Rico, specially focusing on sex ratios from downstream to upstream environments, and evaluating the presence of the swim bladder parasite. Through these studies, we will also evaluate the swimming performance and respiration of juvenile stages of American Eels under increasing temperature treatments, based on predicted temperature increments reported on recent downscaled general circulation models for the island. Currently, information about the population dynamics of American Eel once they reach the continental shelf is derived from the temperate regions of Canada and the United States. Little research has been conducted with American Eels in the Gulf of Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and South America. As a result, we will contribute needed and novel information from American Eel subpopulations from the Caribbean region where information is currently scarce, and describe the effects of climate change on these subpopulations. The results from this research will provide a wider frame of reference on the species in order to guide necessary conservation and management decisions for the American Eel and its valuable fisheries.