Mangroves are coastal forested wetlands that occur in throughout the tropical intertidal zone. Renowned for their ecosystem services, mangroves provide habitat for economically important fish species, provide coastal protection from storm events, and contain some of the largest carbon stocks of any tropical ecosystem. In the summer of 2013, I worked in Honduras as part of the Sustainable Wetlands Adaptation and Mitigation Program investigating the role of mangroves in climate change mitigation (see website for project details: http://www.cifor.org/swamp/home.html ). While in Honduras, I gathered field data for my Honors thesis studying the effects of roosting waterbirds on nutrient cycles in mangroves.
In early April, thanks to funding from the Student Sustainability Initiative and the University Honors College, I had the opportunity to present the results of this research at the Western Division American Fisheries Society annual meeting in Mazatlan, Mexico. I presented a poster as part of the 2nd International Symposium on Mangroves as Fish Habitat. Working in the mangroves last summer, I was impressed by the diversity of fish living in the mangroves. I was curious how nutrient inputs by birds could not only affect the mangroves, but also the fish that rely upon the mangroves. Unfortunately I didn’t know a lot about mangrove associated fish. This symposium brought me up to date on the current state of knowledge concerning mangrove-fish interactions and will provide future directions for my research.
In addition to learning about mangrove associated fish, I learned about how mangroves are managed throughout the world, from the Bahamas, to Mexico, to Pakistan. I met researchers from several different countries and got to know many of the students from the Mexican Chapter of the American Fisheries Society. One of the highlights of the conference for me was learning about all of the high quality research being done in Mexico and throughout Latin America. Much of this work never reaches scientists in the United States because of language barriers. The informational and cultural exchange that this meeting fostered will likely contribute greatly to the sustainable management of both mangroves and their associated fisheries.
– Tyler McFadden