This Postdoctoral Research Fellowship award to Dr. Mark A. Kaemingk is supported by both the Directorate for Biological Sciences and the Office of International Science and Engineering at the National Science Foundation. During the 24-month fellowship, Dr. Kaemingk will work on a project titled, "Recruitment Dynamics of Galaxias maculatus in the Oceanic Phase: Addressing the 'Uncharted' Patterns of Larval Dispersal" under the sponsorship of Dr. Jeffrey Shima at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand.
Galaxias maculatus, a fish species of cultural and economic importance to the people of New Zealand, are experiencing declining populations. Much of the current knowledge of this fish pertains to its freshwater life stage. There is limited information during the 2-3 months when the fish larvae and juveniles inhabit the ocean. This research aims to enhance the understanding of the early life stages by investigating mortality rates, growth rates, and potential factors influencing the dispersal patterns during the marine life stage. The fish species will be sampled as larvae as they exit the rivers and streams into the ocean, and as juveniles when they return from the ocean and re-enter the rivers and streams. Otoliths, or ear stones, will be removed from both larval and juvenile fish and examined to determine important parameters (e.g., age, growth, mortality, duration of ocean life stage, natal stream or river) that will provide a better understanding of this fish species' life history in a marine environment.
As part of this research, Maori and Pacific undergraduate students (under-represented groups within New Zealand) will be trained on this project. Research results on G. maculatus population dynamics will also be shared within the local Maori groups through informational presentations. The results from this research has the potential of improving the care and management of this important fish species. There is also a potential that knowledge gained from this research can be used to inform the management of similar fish species (like salmon found in the Northwest).
This award provides a unique opportunity for a US scientist to collaborate with foreign scientists, and utilize the unique facilities, expertise and experimental conditions available abroad.