Offre de thèse : Developing deep-time perspectives on fish behaviour: historical ecology of sheepshead in the Gulf of Mexico (Leicester)

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Understanding diet and spawning behaviour is critical for developing ecosystem-orientated conservation strategies for saving vulnerable fish species because it allows authorities to target key times and locations for protection, thus helping to balance the economic needs of fisheries with those of ecosystem health in order to achieve long-term, sustainable food security. However, because scientific observation of most aquatic ecosystems has only been established in recent decades, conservation decisions are often necessarily made without key details on how aquatic ecosystems respond to long-term changes in fisheries exploitation and environmental conditions. The physical and chemical characteristics of ancient fish bones and teeth reflect specific behaviours and ecosystem dynamics and can thus serve as a record for investigating long-term patterns in order to anticipate how future fish stocks can be sustainably managed. Approaches refined by the project supervisors demonstrate that fish bone isotopic compositions as well as wear and surface damage on teeth can provide robust markers for reconstructing feeding habitats and migratory patterns.

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