The Cowen Lab


I have focused on the processes responsible for transport of the early life history stages of fish. This work involves an interdisciplinary approach whereby the biology and behavior of larvae are examined in light of physical oceanographic processes. My work has been conducted within a variety of systems: the shelf and slope waters of the Middle Atlantic Bight; isolated, oceanic islands in the tropics (notably Barbados and, to a lesser extent, Bermuda); and currently, the western Caribbean, Straits of Florida and Bahamas remain active in a variety of areas, which ultimately offers my students a broad exposure to topics and techniques. We utilize high-end modeling, state-of-the-art plankton sampling systems, otolith aging and even molecular techniques to address a variety of questions pertaining to the early life history, population dynamics and population connectivity of marine fishes. I have projects working on both coral reef fishes and billfishes, with a variety of collaborations with other colleagues working on other species and systems (e.g. lobster transport, deep shelf/slope species, fishing impacts on nursery habitat, etc.). Through collaborations with Dr. Sponaugle's lab (MBF/RSMAS), we are also able to link pelagic processes to the settlement and post-settlement processes influencing survival of coastal (coral reef) species. Some of the work outlined above is 'basic' (i.e. academic) science, but the connectivity issues in particular have very significant applied implications to resource management. There is a lot of room for work in any of these various topics. My students usually work in association with a particular project, but participate in all my various projects as a means of not only helping each other out, but also gaining a wider range of field experiences.

All fish photographs are by Cedric Guigand ©