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Let’s take advantage of these young, bright uni students

September 2, 2009

Do you ever get the feeling that your professors give you assignments as a way to generate new ideas for approaching impossible problems?

On Friday I have an experimental design assignment due in which we design a sampling program to test the effectiveness of marine sanctuary zones in conserving reef fishes.

One of the goals of marine sanctuaries is to give fish populations a break from continuous fishing pressure and avoid irreversible effects of overfishing. In order for marine sanctuaries to actually be effective, there must be a next export of fish biomass. Net export of fish biomass is measure in one of two ways:

1) net export of adult fish, either through density-dependent migration (it’s getting too crowded in the sanctuary, so they leave) or through random flux between the sanctuary and the surrounding waters (since there is no physical boundaries in the ocean separating these areas).

2) net export of fish larvae (which float around and in/out of the sanctuaries), also called “recruitment”

As I understand it, my sampling program needs to somehow observe net export of adult fish or next export of fish larvae. Unfortunately, according to my reading, “The evidence for the ‘recruitment effect’ is virtually nonexistent, due to the incredible design, scale, and logistic difficulties of actually measuring net larval export from reserves” (Russ 2002).

Right-o. This is a problem that has been approached by many an expert and most seem to view it as near impossible. And…I’m going to come up with a solution and detail it out in 5 pages.

Reference: Russ, G 2002, ‘Yet Another Review of Marine Reserves as Reef Fishery Management Tools’, in P Sale (ed), Coral Reef Fishes: Dynamics and diversity in a complex ecosystem, Academic Press, pp. 421-443.

Here’s a handy diagram that shows movement of fish biomass, from Russ 2002.

Also, here, dinner specifically refers to 7 PM to 10 PM, and supper specifically refers to after 10 PM. For example, right now my housemate is about to go out because he is getting treated for supper (aka late night or midnight snacking). A dinner earlier than 7 PM is called, by Damian, chinaman’s dinner.

Until I wasn’t in America, I didn’t realize the following things were so American: cornbread, American Apparel, acapella

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Philip Hsiao permalink
    September 2, 2009 22:38

    This is definitely what professors do. For archaeology lab, our class spent the entire time weighing and recording new artifacts…

  2. Sylvia permalink
    September 3, 2009 05:05

    That sounds like a challenge. If you manage to find a solution to that, I applaud you for that. But since it seems like it’s virtually impossible, can you write about how the complication in the environment does not pave way for sound experimentation and/or how there “may” be an alternative method. Hmm sorry, Daphne, I can’t really help you in fisheries. I’m taking biology of aquatic insects, instead of fishes. hehe I wish you the best!

  3. September 3, 2009 22:47

    Love the new layout. Comments were hard to find momentarily, but I’m also running off of 5 hours of sleep the past few days and I’ve been awake since 3 this morning. 😐

    Can’t quite help you with the problem… but yes! I feel like some profs take advantage of the undergraduate brain mass to come up with their own problems/solutions!

    And yes, dear, cornbread and American Apparel is very American. Didn’t know about a capella though…

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