What shapes estuary fish communities and how can we determine key nursery habitats?
My research is focused on fish communities within the estuary ecotone; what influences species distributions, how do communities shift with changing conditions, and where are the best habitats for rearing juvenile fishes? In a world of ever-increasing human population and rapid expansion of coastal development, understanding the dynamics of estuary communities and identifying key nursery grounds within this complex environment has become of crucial importance. To protect, conserve, or restore areas under threat, it is first necessary to understand how the ecosystem functioned in its natural, healthy state. This has brought me to the Koeye River estuary on the Central Coast of BC, within the traditional territory of the Heiltsuk First Nation. The Koeye is relatively pristine compared to many North American estuaries and provides the perfect place to investigate estuary function in the absence of destructive human influence. Through regular sampling across the full estuary mosaic, I hope to uncover how fish communities are influenced by their environment and which habitat types confer the most value to juvenile fishes.