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"It is because science grows out of the preoccupations and pressures of everyday life
that its discoveries have, in the end, to be accessible to all of us."
Lisa Jardine, 1999. Ingenious Pursuits:
Building the Scientific Revolution
p.8

  

What can we learn from animal movement in the ocean?

Rebecca Fox is a Chancellor's Post Doctoral Research Fellow in the School of Life Sciences, Marine Biology, at the University of Technology Sydney.

 

Lisa Roberts in conversation

Rebecca Fox

My project is essentially looking at animal movement. An aspect of animal movement that I'm interested in is animal movement and connectivity, in particular, connections between an animal's home territory and where it goes to reproduce. And in that regard I'm looking at, or trying to find, where rabbit fish aggregate [come together] to spawn. Because at the current time we don't have any information about where those fishes reproduce and how they reproduce - a fundamental biological process and we don't know how or where or when it happens.

So I'm going to be following the fish in real time, tracking them with little acoustic transmitting devices in the fish, and follow them to their spawning grounds, and then hopefully document the process of spawning and reproduction in these fishes. And that will help us understand the connectivity between where they migrate to and their home area.

These are tropical marine fishes. They live on coral reefs around the world. It's important to understand the connection between reef and other environments, so that we don't upset that connectivity, as we are developing reef areas for tourism, living, and industry. So yes, that's what I'm doing.

Why Rabbit fish?

Why Rabbit fish? Because they're a fascinating family of fishes, and nobody studies them, so they're neglected. They're really really interesting fish. And they're very important fish as well. We eat them. Not so much here in Australia, but in many parts of the Pacific they're a main part of the fisheries catch that support a lot of coastal, lagoonal or reef communities in developing parts of the world. Very good source of protein; very high in protein. But they're also ecologically important. They're herbiferous fishes that contro algal growth on the reefs, so yes, they have a dual importance. So yes, it's time we understood how and when and where they're reproducing.

Rebecca Fox