Karlisa Callwood, MiaSci’s Public Program Manager, was recently invited to participate in the 2010 Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute (GCFI) Conference. More than 250 biologists, students, researchers, fishermen, and government and conservation group representatives from Caribbean countries and the U.S. met in San Juan, Puerto Rico from November 1-5 of this year, to explore how to work together to conserve marine resources, habitats and fisheries throughout the region. Karlisa was one of several students asked to lead a poster presentation on research completed as part of her Masters’ thesis, which she completed this past August.
Karlisa’s presentation focused on the policy implications of Caribbean spiny lobster larval dispersal in the Bahamas. Lobster, one of the most economically important species in the Caribbean, has one of the longest pelagic larval durations for marine invertebrates, with the ability to travel for six months to a year as larvae. Her work utilized a computer model that coupled physical oceanographic data, like wind velocity and currents, with habitat data and biological traits of the lobster to predict the locations where lobster larvae might settle and the distances they could travel.
This work highlights the importance for more ecosystem based management techniques that will encourage the protection of both nursery and settlement habitats. Results show that larvae released within the Bahamas generally settled in habitats 100-300 km away from their source locations. However, many of the larvae travelled distances of 4000-7000 km and 50% of the particles released in the model travelled outside the jurisdiction of the Bahamas.
“Because these habitats could exist anywhere in the Caribbean, a marine protected area network, connected through dispersal and crossing many political boundaries, may serve as one possible approach for protecting this important species,” said Karlisa. “Establishing such a network can provide opportunities for scientists from different countries to collaboratively develop strategies for protection.”
Karlisa is part of the new Museum team that will be designing and developing content and programming for the Living Core at the future Museum in Museum Park.