Marine Fish Ecology & Fisheries Oceanography

 Dr. Su Sponaugle & Dr. Robert Cowen

Sponaugle Google Scholar Page | Cowen Google Scholar Page


Welcome to the Sponaugle-Cowen Plankton Ecology Laboratory! Here we conduct basic and applied research on the ecology of marine fishes and the dynamics of their early life history stages.

We are especially interested in the processes underlying the growth, survival, and dispersal of early life stages, leading to successful settlement and recruitment to the benthic populations.

Most of our work has focused on marine fishes in a variety of systems but especially those on tropical coral reefs. Some of our interdisciplinary efforts have focused on identifying the physical and biological processes creating a temporal and spatial pattern in offshore larval distributions and overall larval supply.

Other efforts are directed at identifying the linkages between the pelagic life of larvae and subsequent recruitment of juveniles to the reef. Our overarching goal is to better understand the events occurring in the pelagic larval stage that influence population replenishment and connectivity. The data we collect is not only relevant to ecology and oceanography, but also are useful for quantifying overall population replenishment, designing and evaluating marine reserves, and interpreting future environmental changes.

Our Recent Research and Current Research pages outline the questions we are pursuing and how our graduate and undergraduate students are engaged in our day-to-day research activities. We are always happy to discuss research opportunities with both prospective graduate students and potential collaborators. There also are frequent opportunities for undergraduates to volunteer and gain experience assisting with aspects of our ongoing research. Direct links to recent publications (see Sponaugle Publications and Cowen Publications) illustrate some of the research output of the lab and provide a sense of the work being conducted by a suite of graduate and undergraduate students.

Check out this video to see our research in action! (Compiled by Waterlust)