Jen Rupnow Gerber website backupJennifer Rupnow

Lab Member Fall 2003-Spring 2007

Currently a Sustainability Manager at Autodesk

Marine reserves are advocated as strategies to protect reef fish stocks and promote marine conservation. Reserves are potentially useful because they can conserve and guard the ecological integrity of the reserve site while involving the community, increasing understanding of the ecosystem, and allowing an opportunity for reef fish stocks to achieve their full potential. To date, most reserve design scenarios have been largely drive by political motivations, rather than biological and societal needs. Jen focused on the N. Gulf of California ecoregion as a case study to develop conservation approaches that account for ecological and societal needs. In particular, she focused on predatory reef fishes and the sport fisheries that target them.

The objective of her project was to gather and analyze information on grouper and giant sea bass reproductive and ecosystem ecology. This knowledge was necessary to implement effective conservation measures in theNorthern Gulf of Californiaecoregion. Her project goals were critical in light of the urgent conservation status of reef fish in the Northern Gulf of California. In particular, the gulf grouper (Mycteroperca jordani: family, Serranidae) is vulnerable to extinction according to the IUCN. Overfishing of the gulf grouper has already caused its depletion throughout the Gulf, and its presence is now restricted primarily to the N. Gulf region. Furthermore, the giant sea bass (Stereolepis gigas: family, Polyprionidae) is critically endangered and is facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild in the immediate future.

It is the hope that these community based management efforts will bring about: more information on vulnerable reef fish populations, government mandated and enforced species specific protections, protection of vulnerable spawning aggregation sites, and more conscientious fishing practices by sport fishers. Given the interdisciplinary nature of this project, diverse lab and field methods are being employed. Primarily, this project involves: community interviews, questionnaires, and workshops; port surveys of captured fishes; research diving; in situ environmental sampling, and analysis of historical data. Biological parameters and fishery-related socioeconomic parameters will be used to model optimal management strategies for threatened reef fish species using decision theory models and population viability analysis (PVA).