By Jeff Rice
How many fish are in the Salish Sea? It’s an impossible question that drives the Puget Sound Institute’s newest senior scientist Marc Mangel.
“In a way, yes,” says Mangel, a mathematical biologist who has spent his career working on fish and fisheries issues.
Mangel uses mathematical models to answer critical questions about species such as their population numbers and population health. He joins PSI this month as an affiliate professor at the University of Washington Tacoma where he will focus on a range of subjects related to species such as salmon and forage fish.
Mangel comes to PSI from the University of California, Santa Cruz where he is a Distinguished Research Professor of Mathematical Biology. For the past 30 years, he has been a leader in ocean conservation and his research has been cited by fisheries managers worldwide. He currently serves as chair of the board of directors at Fishwise and is a member of the review board of the Pacific Halibut Commission. In 2014, Mangel was a principle scientific expert in a successful lawsuit by the Australian government to stop Japanese whaling in the Antarctic. This spring, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
One of the challenges when studying the ocean — and fish in particular, Mangel says — is getting enough good field data. “We barely know how many fish we take out,” he says of fisheries catch reports and other sources. Numbers for actual fish populations are even more complicated, requiring more opaque ecological studies and plenty of math. In Puget Sound, for example, Mangel has been working with biologists on Protection Island to enlist “seabirds as samplers” as part of a long-term study counting the numbers of forage fish consumed as prey by birds such as rhinoceros auklets. “Based on that, we can infer the abundance of prey species,” he says. Other collaborations include ongoing studies of steelhead numbers with scientists at the Manchester Environmental Laboratory in Manchester, Washington.
Mangel has been a regular contributor to PSI as a visiting scholar since 2013 when he co-chaired PSI’s Forage Fish Study Group, with PSI Lead Ecosystem Ecologist Tessa Francis. The study group produced a set of research and management recommendations for Puget Sound’s forage fish species, including Pacific herring. Last year, Mangel and Francis were co-authors on a paper, led by University of Bergen student Gabriella Ljungström, investigating the tradeoffs faced by migrating herring between feeding, survival, and reproduction, using Puget Sound as a case study (Ljungström et al. 2018).
Other related articles:
New mathematical equations co-developed by Puget Sound Institute affiliate research professor Marc Mangel are designed to help health officials interpret coronavirus test results for better risk assessments. As more people in the U.S. are vaccinated and mask restrictions loosen, public health officials hope that the coronavirus pandemic has reached a…
By Jeff Rice How many fish are in the Salish Sea? It’s an impossible question that drives the Puget Sound Institute’s newest senior scientist Marc Mangel. “In a way, yes,” says Mangel, a mathematical biologist who has spent his career working on fish and fisheries issues. Mangel uses mathematical models…
Congratulations to Puget Sound Institute Visiting Scientist Marc Mangel for his recent honorary doctorate from the University of Guelph. Mangel was presented with the honor last month in Ontario in recognition for his “significant academic contributions combining mathematics and statistics with theoretical ecology and evolutionary biology.” The presenters wrote: “You have profoundly…
By Jeff Rice
A March 31st ruling by the United Nations to halt Japanese whaling in the Antarctic draws heavily on analysis by PSI Visiting Scientist Marc Mangel, who served as an Independent Scientific Expert in the case. The Japanese government had argued that whaling in the region was primarily for scientific research, but had been challenged in a lawsuit by the government of Australia.
Social media now proliferates across almost every sector of the Web, from commercial enterprises like Facebook to crowd sourcing of science and medical data. New online communities are created constantly, but not all of these efforts succeed, and the Web is littered with failed attempts and false starts. How can you tell which networks will be the next big thing? PSI Visiting Scientist Marc Mangel says the answer may lie with population biology.
By Jeff Rice
As go forage fish, so may go the health of Puget Sound. That’s the conclusion of scientists who say small schooling fish like Pacific herring, surf smelt and Pacific sand lance play a big role in the marine food web.
Oily and full of calories, these fish are an important source of food for familiar predators like salmon, sea birds and marine mammals. But the region’s forage fish may be vulnerable on a variety of fronts, according to an expert panel of scientists who met at Friday Harbor Labs for a five-day workshop last month.