Research

I am a current graduate student, environmental optimist, and a wilderness habituer.

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My various research experiences have led me around the globe; whether     exploring Muriqui monkey population demographics in the Mata   Atlântica rainforest of Brazil, supporting Kit Fox conservation in the high deserts of Colorado, or studying mammalian foraging in the Upper Peninsula North Woods, a common conservation theme emerged.

That theme, and the cumulative experiences that lead to it, now inform  my graduate research and career goals in Ecology. During my myriad  ecological field seasons, it became evident that conservation and research efforts on the part of dedicated researchers could not come to fruition without contributions by local actors and knowledge holders.

My project on the Central Coast of BC, Canada seeks to unite ecology and local needs and wisdom to achieve marine conservation goals.

Under supervision by Dr. Natalie Ban at the University of Victoria and in collaboration with Dr. Alejandro Frid and the combined force of the Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance (CCIRA), which is composed by the Kitasoo/Xai’Xais, Heiltsuk, Nuxalk and Wuikinuxv Nations, I am exploring the traditional ecological knowledge of local marine experts and assisting in on-going ecological surveys. Together, scientific and traditional knowledge sources can powerfully support the conservation of local resources and species by providing robust and diverse data. Specifically, my project will inform management of species in the Genus Sebastes; otherwise, rockfish.

Rockfish are incredible bottom-dwelling marine fishes. The 37 species that inhabit coastal waters of the Pacific Northeast portray many colors, sizes, and some species have life-spans of over 100 years. They have been harvested by First Nations for at least 1800 years and are prized by both commercial and recreational fishers for their fillet quality, color, and incredible size at late maturity.

photo: Alejandro Frid

Photo: Alejandro Frid

But rockfish’s life history traits make them especially vulnerable to the pressures of over-fishing. Rockfish display site-fidelity, late maturity and reproductive age, and low-survivorship rates when released by fishers. The massive rockfish that are so prized by fishers are also the most reproductively succesful, and their frequent capture has drive BC’s rockfish populations to all-time lows.

The purpose of my research is to expand historical knowledge of rockfish, identify changes in rockfish ecology and ecosystem roles, and explore stewardship strategies through collaboration with the  Kitasoo/Xai’Xais, Heiltsuk, Nuxalk and Wuikinuxv Nations. Data rendered will support the timely and important work of the Marine Planning Partnership (MaPP) initiative, which is a partnership between the BC provincial government and 18 Coastal First Nations which strives to provide recommendations for key marine areas in need of management and protection.

My work is supported first and foremost by the First Nations of CCIRA and empowered by their knowledge, vision, and collaboration. It is additionally sustained by funding through the National Geographic Society’s Young Explorers’ Grant, the The Marine Environmental Observation Prediction and Response Network (MEOPAR) of Canada, and the tireless work of my many academic collaborators, friends, and colleagues. It is reinvigorated daily by my experiences in the beautiful wild that is BC’s coast and temperate rainforest. The ecological complexities and interrelated systems that allow both to flourish must be matched by the integration of knowledge and local social systems that are equally complex and beautiful.

 

 

 

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Past ResearchFocused on the impacts of granivory by rodents as a mechanism to control invasive plants in the Upper Peninsula of Wisconsin and Michigan. My undergraduate research publication is available here.

For information on my past experiences, future goals, or other information, see my CV.

2 thoughts on “Research

  1. Pingback: Bon Voyage | Lauren Eckert

  2. Pingback: CCIRA Newsletter | Lauren Eckert

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