Mel and larval fish

My internship at RSMAS is focused on the impact of mesoscale eddies, season and water temperature on early life history traits of larval fish in the Florida Keys. Mesoscale eddies are hydrographic structures of which influences on the delivery of fish larvae to reefs have been shown in this area. The water temperature is one factor likely driving the growth of larvae. Understand the key processes operating during the early life of fish is important to improve models and figure out how populations are connected and replenished over time and in this way improve the protection, conservation and management of marine species. In these perspectives, my study was undertaken to examine growth rates and pelagic larval duration of reef fishes 1) that were “delivered” by eddies or arrived at the reef when eddies were not present (2) under the seasonal water temperature variation influence. The hypothesis is that conditions inside the eddy and summer temperature are better for growth and survival. In order to test this one, larvae have been measured and their otoliths (calcified structures with daily deposition) were dissected out, imaged, and analyzed. Lab-work and data analysis were and are a pleasure thanks to the sympathy and help of my advisor, Dr. Evan D'Alessandro, and my lab-mate, Iris.

Mel Fish