THE BIOLOGY AND ECOLOGY OF INVERTEBRATE ORNAMENTAL FISHERIES
Our expertise on benthic habitats and invertebrates has led to a new research focus on the many invertebrates targeted for their aesthetic or functional value to the aquarium trade. Ornamental fisheries often operate unnoticed due to their niche market, the frequency of product export, and the diminutive size of the target organisms. As a result, little attention has been paid to them and they have been managed based on limited life history or population information. At low levels of exploitation this situation may not be problematic, but as exploitation intensifies it is critical to have baseline biological information on a species to manage it sustainably. We began to tackle this lack of life history and population structure information with two of the most heavily exploited species, peppermint shrimp and the blue-legged hermit crabs, and are now investigating the ecological implications of harvest on benthic communities and habitats.
This research is in collaboration with Dr. Antonio Baeza, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Clemson University. Dr. Baeza is an expert on phylogeny, evolution, biology, and life history of invertebrate crustaceans. His website highlights his other research and contains links to many of his publications.