Shedd Aquarium Expands Caribbean Research Team

February 5, 2014

New postdoctoral research associate joins Shedd to study endangered grouper

CHICAGOShedd Aquarium, a global leader in research and conservation, announces the hiring of Kristine Stump, Ph.D. as a postdoctoral research associate for the aquarium’s Daniel P. Haerther Center for Conservation and Research. Dr. Stump will oversee Shedd’s Marine and Island Ecology college course and lead field work in the Bahamas studying the Nassau grouper (Epinephelus striatus), an endangered fish listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

“We are excited to welcome Dr. Stump to our team of researchers doing critical conservation work around the globe,” said Dr. Charles Knapp, vice president of conservation and research at the aquarium. “Shedd has a long-standing history of marine research and protection in the Bahamas. The Nassau grouper is known as one of the most important fish in the Caribbean region but the population is rapidly declining. Dr. Stump’s work in the field will help drive efforts to protect this endangered fish.”

Starting on February 5, Dr. Stump will lead research efforts focusing on spawning aggregations of Nassau grouper. She will conduct a telemetry study which involves tagging fish and using bottom monitors, devices strategically placed on the ocean floor, to track their seasonal movements. Dr. Stump’s findings will assist the Bahamas Department of Marine Resources establish a science-based management plan for the endangered population. Dr. Stump is no stranger to Bahamian species conservation. She joins Shedd after earning her doctorate in marine biology and fisheries from the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, where her research focused on the effects of nursery habitat loss on juvenile lemon sharks in the Bahamas.

“I’m passionate about the Bahamas and excited to return as part of Shedd’s Caribbean research team,” said Dr. Stump. “Although my focus will shift from lemon sharks to Nassau grouper, this research presents a unique opportunity to help create a science-based management plan that will work to protect an endangered species critical to the region.”

Dr. Stump’s field work on the island of Bimini at the Bimini Biological Field Station revealed that lemon sharks are highly vulnerable to habitat loss caused by human disturbances and cannot seek out new nursery grounds even if the quality of their habitat and food availability is compromised. Although her efforts will now be focused on a different species, the methods she used to track lemon sharks will translate seamlessly to her work tracking Nassau grouper across hundreds of miles of the Bahamian archipelago to determine their migration patterns, spawning behaviors and habitat preferences.

Prior to her doctoral research, Dr. Stump worked at a federal interagency office called Ocean.US, the National Office for Integrated and Sustained Ocean Observing Systems, now administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). While with Ocean.US, she worked to build partnerships among federal, state and local agencies for the purpose of developing an Integrated Ocean Observing System for the U.S. Previously, Dr. Stump worked at the program office for the Census of Marine Life at the Consortium for Ocean Leadership in Washington, DC.

Dr. Kristine Stump earned her master’s in marine policy from the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, as well as her bachelor’s degree in marine biology.

Shedd’s Daniel P. Haerther Center for Conservation and Research focuses on local and global field research, on-site research, and conservation awareness and action. The center is committed to creating and supporting strong programs that build connections between our animals and their counterparts in the wild. Shedd’s conservation work includes more than two decades of research on Bahamian rock iguanas, one of the world’s most critically endangered lizards, as well as studies of endangered arapaima in Guyana,economically significant conch and lobster in the Bahamas, migratory fish and endangered species in the Great Lakes region, and seahorses in Southeast Asia. For more information on Shedd’s conservation efforts visit http://www.sheddaquarium.org/4059.html

VISUAL NOTE: Visit the following link to download high resolution images of Dr. Kristine Stump: https://backup.filesanywhere.com/fs/v.aspx?v=8c6f698e5c6274b6a4ad

Shedd Aquarium is supported by the people of Chicago, the State of Illinois and the Chicago Park District. Shedd Aquarium is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums.

The Daniel P. Haerther Center for Conservation and Research at John G. Shedd Aquarium is committed to conserving species and ecosystems through research that advances understanding, informs policy and enhances livelihoods as responsible stewards of the animals in our care.

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