Campus: CSU Long Beach -- April 13, 2005

Cal State Long Beach Marine Biology Professor Receives 2 California Sea Grants for Reef Fish, Spiny Lobster Projects

Christopher G. Lowe, associate professor of marine biology at California State University, Long Beach, and colleagues from UC Santa Barbara and San Diego State University received two of 14 grants awarded by the California Sea Grant program for research projects beginning this year. The total amount of the two grants is more than $150,000.

Lowe and Jennifer E. Caselle, assistant research biologist at UCSB's Marine Science Institute, are studying the home ranges and habitat preferences of exploited near shore reef fishes in the Catalina Marine Science Center Marine Life Refuge.

By attaching acoustic tags to adult ocean whitefish and barred sand bass and then tracking the fish, Lowe and Caselle will examine the fishes' home ranges and habitat preferences in the marine life refuge.

"Fish will also be translocated to adjacent areas to test the fidelity of fishes to their home ranges and to assess the degree to which different species, for example, kelp bass, sand bass, whitefish and sheephead, will cross expanses of sand to return to their original home range," said Lowe, whose projects are among five studies also receiving funding from the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG).

Their goal is to assist DFG in designing marine reserves that are large enough and of sufficient quality to ensure the protection of reproductive adults.

In another study, Lowe and Kevin Hovel, assistant professor of marine biology at San Diego State, are examining "Shelter Use, Movement, and Home Range of Spiny Lobsters in San Diego County."

"California spiny lobsters are an important predator within kelp forests and rocky shorelines in Southern California and also a valuable commercial and recreational fishery. About 500,000 pounds, worth an estimated $5 million, are landed annually," Lowe said.

One goal of California's Marine Life Protection Act of 1999 is to assess the home ranges of marine species including "mobile invertebrates" such as lobsters that are caught by recreational and commercial anglers.

Lowe and Hovel will conduct surveys and sonic tagging of lobsters in the Point Loma kelp forest, a prime lobster fishing area in San Diego County, to investigate how the size, type and distribution of sheltering areas influence lobster density, movement and home range.

Eleven California universities and research facilities were selected to receive grants for the 14 projects that cover fisheries management, aquaculture, coastal processes, new marine products, and human impacts on coastal resources.

California Sea Grant, based at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, is the largest of 30 university-based programs funded principally by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States Department of Commerce.

Media Contacts:
Anne Ambrose, 562/985-2582,
Rick Gloady, 562, 985-5454,

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