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Ernst B. Peebles

Associate Professor of Biological Oceanography, University of South Florida

Most students in my lab are engaged in the Marine Resource Assessment program and are collectively pursuing a diversity of methods that apply to living resource biology and management. The common thread is coastal fish and shellfish habitat use and quality. One research focus has been spatio-temporal interactions between coastal fishes and their prey, particularly as these are affected by freshwater flows to the coast and other physical processes. Personnel from my lab have quantified estuarine ichthyoplankton and invertebrate zooplankton responses to freshwater flows from more than 18 watersheds along Florida's west coast; these results have been used to manage environmental flows. The same type of plankton data is being used to develop community-level metrics for establishing the extent of eutrophication in coastal water bodies. In another line of research, we use stable isotope analysis to investigate factors that influence coastal biomass pathways. We also use stable isotopes to contrast fish isotopic signatures with geographic background maps (isoscapes), which allows us to identify site fidelities and movements that determine geographic habitat connectivity. Recently, we added DNA barcoding and hydrodynamic models to our effort to characterize habitat connectivity during egg and larval stages. In a related effort, we have been using otolith microchemistry (LA-ICP-MS) to connect adult fish to the geographic regions they used as nursery habitat and to detect exposure of individual fish to stressful events such as oil spills.


  • –present
    Associate Professor Biological Oceanography, University of South Florida