NWFSC Monster Seminar Jam: Dr. Astrid Leitner
This seminar is part of the Northwest Fisheries Science Center's Monster Seminar Jam series.
Dr. Astrid Leitner (Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute) is presenting a talk, "Seamount Synaphobranchid Swarms and Remote Camera Systems for Ocean Discovery, Hypothesis Testing, and Applied Research." The talk will be moderated by Cathy Laetz (Northwest Fisheries Science Center).
Remote camera systems are a fundamental tool for deep sea biologists and ecologists. Over the years an impressive diversity of systems has evolved, each with its own applications, strengths and weaknesses. One important class of remote camera systems is the baited remote underwater video system (BRUV). BRUVs have been used for several decades to collect data on fish assemblages in the deep and shallow, benthic and pelagic, nearshore and offshore but are now becoming recognized as valuable tools for conservation and management efforts as well, including by fisheries agencies. I will share my work using BRUVs in three research areas: ocean discovery, ecological and oceanographic hypothesis testing, and conservation and management. BRUVs were used for the first time to explore abyssal seamount habitats, resulting in the astonishing observation of record-breaking swarms of cutthroat eels (Family Synaphobranchidae) at small bait packages below 3000m. This discovery was a part of a larger project testing the hypothesis that seamount habitats may act as refuges for fauna displaced by deep sea mining activities in the Clarion Clipperton Zone, and data from remote camera systems made up a critical component of this research. I also present an example relevant to the fisheries management sphere, where a large 7-year dataset of BRUV deployments across the Hawaiian Islands was analyzed to test for the influences of bathymetric habitat types on demersal fish assemblages, including species from the economically and culturally important Bottomfish fishery. I will discuss how the BotCam and now MOUS camera systems are used in the management of this demersal fishery in Hawaii and give a further example of the ongoing use of BRUVs across Australia for both research and management purposes. Remote camera systems are inexpensive and efficient tools for collecting fishery independent data on a variety of important ecological metrics including diversity, relative abundance, size structure, and habitat use across a broad range of ecosystems.
Astrid Leitner describes herself as an ecological oceanographer who is interested in the intersection between ecology and physical and geological oceanography. She was born in Austria but completed most of her education in the United States. She holds two Bachelors of Science degrees from the University of California, Santa Cruz, one in Marine Biology and another in Earth and Planetary Sciences. After finishing her degrees in 2012 she worked in Baja California for a year before beginning a PhD program in Biological Oceanography at the University of Hawaii at Manoa with Professor Jeff Drazen in the Deep Sea Fish Ecology Lab. Her PhD focused on the influences of abrupt submarine topography on local community ecology at various scales, specifically working on abyssal hills, pinnacles and seamounts. During this time, she spent over 200 days at sea working with remote camera systems among other oceanographic technologies, but especially focusing on the use of baited camera systems. She is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute where she is working on the influence of submarine canyons on the distribution and behavior of midwater animals. Her research is mostly deep-sea focused, which requires the use of remote sensing tools like ROVS, AUVs, and remote camera landers, with the ultimate goal of understanding how geomorphology influences current flow and how the resulting localized conditions change the distributions, abundance, diversity, and behaviors of animals.
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