Thursday, May 19, 2011

Ask a Grad Student: Laurinda Marcello

Laurinda is a master's student working not only with fisheries in Alaska, but also reaching across our neighbors to the east and looking at the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Newfoundland/Labrador Shelf! Oh, and she practices karate, so watch out!

Age: 26

Degree: MS, Fisheries

Current City: Juneau

1. Describe your project, in 4 sentences or less.

My research is part of a larger project looking at interactions between gadoid fishes and crustaceans in Sub-Arctic areas (Ecosystem Studies of Sub-Arctic Seas working group 4). I’m using regression models to look at things from the perspective of one crustacean: snow crab. I want to know how environmental conditions, spawning stock biomass, and predation by gadoid fishes influence snow crab early life history. Finally, I’m comparing results across several ecosystems to learn whether snow crab recruitment is governed by the same principles across areas or not.

Pacific cod: "Get into my belly!"

2. What was the most surprising result of your model?

The relationship between snow crab spawners and later recruitment was surprising. You would think that more adult crab means more offspring, right? Well, when I looked at models I didn’t see that. Sometimes spawners didn’t matter at all. Other times, higher spawning stock biomass resulted in lower recruitment. I have some ideas on why that might happen, but I’ll save that for my talk.

3. You don’t work directly with crabs but have you had any field work on other projects? If not, is there anything you’d like to do/work on in the field?

I previously worked for Sitka Tribe of Alaska monitoring sockeye salmon at the Salmon Lake weir. A coworker and I would tag each sockeye, take scale samples, and record its length and gender. We also tallied the other salmon and trout species passing though the weir and kept a daily log of environmental conditions. A few times during the season our bosses would come to the lake so we could run a beach seine (to better estimate population size using mark-recapture methods).

Salmon Lake weir

sampling the sockeye (Oncorhynchus nerka)

It was a nice change of pace to be outdoors for the better part of the summer. I was living in a wall tent so there was a lot to do besides counting fish. Every week or two we would hike then boat to town for groceries and fuel. During my free time I liked to take pictures, fish for trout, watch brown bears, and play cards.

home sweet home

In the future I would definitely love to land a job that gets me out on the water or trekking through the woods on a regular basis. I know I’ll have to spend a lot of time at a desk, but I’d like to do field work again.

view from Salmon Lake: definitely beats an office!

4. You grew up in Alaska. If you could live anywhere else, where would it be?

I really love Sitka and intend to move back there. But you know what? Hawaii is really nice too: ocean, mountains, rain, and cool people. I could see myself in a small town or rural area like Hana.

5. What is your favorite piece of crab paraphernalia? If not crabby, then ocean-themed paraphernalia?

My jar of sand from Sandy Beach in Sitka. I’ve been carting the thing around with me since I first left for college.

a sweet sandy momento

Thanks Laurinda!

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