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Ecosystems Processes Division

Acting Chief: Dr. Jonathan Hare

Milford (CT) and James J. Howard (NJ), and Woods Hole (MA) Laboratories

The Ecosystem Processes Division seeks to understand the effects of natural and human-induced environmental factors on fishery resources, and ultimately to predict the effects of variation in such factors on the composition, distribution, abundance, and production of fishery resources. An emphasis is placed on the study of reproductive activity and early life stages since these are generally the most vulnerable to environmental variation. Research is principally process-oriented, which includes both field and lab studies.

Behavioral Ecology Branch

Chief: Dr. Beth Phelan

The Behavioral Ecology Branch employs a multidisciplinary, experimental, and community-based approach to investigate mechanisms that affect recruitment, distribution, and abundance of economically significant marine fishes and invertebrates.

The Branch conducts field and laboratory studies on habitat requirements and preferences, predator-prey relationships, movement and migration patterns, reproductive behavior, and other behavioral responses that influence populations of resource species. Emphasis is placed on interactions among managed species, their predators and prey, and environmental parameters such as sediments, macrophytes, water column characteristics, and hydrography. Both qualitative and quantitative aspects of the habitat are explored, and behavioral processes at all stages of animal development are considered. The behavioral norms established in the research serve as baselines against which the effects of environmental perturbations can be measured or predicted.

Oceanography Branch

Acting Chief: Dr. Chris Melrose

The Oceanography Branch analyzes data collected on the Northeast Continental Shelf ecosystem to understand how the components of the ecosystem influence the distribution, abundance, and productivity of living marine resources (LMRs). The Branch conducts process oriented research on LMRs.

In addition, the Branch collects temperature and salinity data on almost all Northeast Fisheries Science Center cruises to monitor the seasonal and interannual variability in the water properties on the northeast continental shelf.

Specific focus is given to studying the physical and biological processes which control the growth and survival of the early life stages of fish populations and of their zooplankton prey organisms.

For more information on what kind of research the branch performs, go to the Oceanography Branch website.

Coastal Ecology Branch

Chief: Dr. Vince Guida

The Coastal Ecology Branch conducts field and laboratory studies on life history and habitat relationships of economically and ecologically important marine fishes and invertebrates. The purpose of this research is to determine how fish and invertebrates are affected by both natural processes and anthropogenic activities in the marine environment.

The Branch also conducts research on mapping benthic habitats and relating habitat parameters to the occurrence of species of fish and invertebrates, in particular deep sea cold water corals. This work is aimed at determining the relative functional value of specific habitats and predicting where suitable habitat exists for particular species.

Current research includes: Mapping benthic habitats, with a particular focus on Hudson Canyon and Georges Bank, which involves the use of towed camera sleds and autonomous underwater vehicles. The development of habitat suitability models for deep sea corals and field testing of model predictions. And, assessing and modeling benthic habitats to investigate the relationship between habitat type and the distribution and abundance of fish.

The Branch leads the Ecosystem Processes Division's efforts to provide needed information to users such as the NMFS Northeast Regional Office and fishery management councils and commissions.

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(File Modified Jun. 06 2016)