What We Do
Our division studies the interactions between the environment and marine life. This research supports sustainable wild and farmed fisheries as well as conservation of habitats and protected species in the Northeast Continental Shelf ecosystem off the United States.
- Environmental factors for algae, shellfish and finfish aquaculture.
- Linking climate with responses of species and their habitats.
- Human influence on ecosystems.
Our research includes field surveys and laboratory investigations run by our five branches.
We study the technical effectiveness, compatibility with the environment, and long-term success of marine aquaculture practices. We develop methods and technologies to improve production of farmed seafood, supporting expanded shellfish aquaculture in the United States. With a team-based approach, we apply multidisciplinary science to high-priority projects. Local, national, and international collaborations support our research.
Aquaculture Systems & Ecology
We conduct research to better understand the ecology of estuaries, coastal, and off-shore waters. Working with industry partners, we study the interactions between coastal habitats and aquaculture practices. We support development of technologies to culture species of commercial and recreational importance. We provide our scientific findings to the shellfish aquaculture industry and policy makers.
The Fisheries Ecology Branch studies fish populations of the Northeast continental shelf. We research how fish are affected by ocean factors and human stressors. Our research areas cover offshore wind energy development, environmental DNA, life history, recruitment, and modeling. This work provides tools to make fisheries resilient to environmental challenges.
The Habitat Ecology Branch studies the role of Northeast continental shelf habitats in ocean health, especially with regard to climate change and human activity. Our research areas cover microplastics, habitat mapping, and offshore wind energy development. We focus on the value of ocean habitat to humans and the environment. Research tools include sampling cruises, databases, modeling, chemical analysis, and external collaboration.
Oceans & Climate
The Oceans and Climate Branch collects and analyzes a comprehensive record of biological and oceanographic conditions in the marine waters of the northeast region. Our offshore ecosystem surveys have provided direct measurements of ocean conditions since the early 1970s. Our analysis of this long series of measurements allows us to document changes in the marine ecosystem that affect how we understand and manage our marine resources. For example, we’ve observed changes in continental shelf water temperature and acidification, changes to the locations of spawning and feeding habitat over time, and changes in planktonic communities that make up the major food sources of large whales and other fisheries species. By directly monitoring our ocean ecosystem, we gain an understanding of how the ecosystem worked in the past and how that might change in the future.
Lisa Milke, Ph.D.
In January 2022, Lisa assumed the role of Acting Chief of the Ecosystem and Aquaculture Division, which consists of five research branches distributed along the coast of the northeast between Sandy Hook, NJ, and Woods Hole, MA. She will serve in this capacity until a permanent Division Chief is onboard.