[PAST EVENT] Behavioral ecology of fish aggregations

November 18, 2011
3:30pm - 4:30pm
VIMS - Watermen's Hall, McHugh Auditorium
1375 Greate Road
Gloucester Point, VA 23062Map this location
Dr. Gorka Sancho
Associate Professor
Department of Biology, College of Charleston

"Behavioral ecology of fish aggregations: relationships between reef fishes, tuna, floating objects, and fishermen"

Reception at 3:00 p.m. in Watermen's Hall Lobby
Seminar from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in McHugh Auditorium

Dr. Sancho studied biology at the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid in Spain, and earned a Ph.D. at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution working on the behavioral ecology of coral reef fishes at spawning aggregation sites. He later worked on fisheries conservation and ecological management at the AZTI Technological and Fisheries in the Basque Region of Spain. In 2002, he moved to the College of Charleston, where he continues his research on fish behavioral ecology and fisheries conservation. He has worked with coral reef fishes, hydrothermal-vent fishes, temperate marine fishes, diadromous salmons and eels, plus freshwater crayfish.

Many fishes temporarily aggregate in large numbers, mainly related to spawning- or feeding-related activities. Fishermen have taken advantage of this phenomenon for centuries, directly targeting fish temporal aggregations. Dr. Sancho will present research related to the behavioral ecology of reef fish spawning aggregations and pelagic fish aggregations under floating objects.

Reef fishes display variable responses to environmental and social factors when spawning in aggregations, and numerous hypotheses attempt to explain these behaviors. One behavior is the spawning ascent rush, common among reef pelagic spawners, which is still poorly understood. Dr. Sancho will present data comparing this behavior among multiple species spawning at the same reefs.

In pelagic waters, fishes will aggregate under floating objects, which when employed by fishermen are referred to as Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs). Drifting FADs play a major role in the purse-seine tuna fishery in tropical waters. More than 50% of the world catches of tuna are made around FADs, emphasizing the growing need to manage the exploitation of FADs and better understand the biological and behavioral processes responsible for the formation of fish aggregations. Dr. Sancho will present data on the composition of these pelagic fish aggregations, behavior of fishes around FADs and behavior of fishermen's practices in the Indian Ocean. Recent changes in the Indian Ocean related to pirate activities are likely having effects on pelagic fish communities in this and other oceans.

[[seitz,Rochelle Seitz]] at 804-684-7698