Mario Espinoza, PhD candidate
I am particularly interested in behavioral ecology, fisheries management and conservation biology, as well as the interaction between these fields. Some of the major threads affecting elasmobranch species are the increase in fishing pressure and habitat loss. My previous research focused on habitat use and movement patterns of sharks and rays inside a newly restored estuarine habitat in southern California. This information was very important to assess the ecological function of newly restored habitats, as well as to support the creation of marine protected areas (MPAs) along the coast. I was also involved in a project that tested a new positioning system for tracking fine-scale movements of aquatic species. Since 2011, I have been involved in a large collaborative project looking at the distribution, diversity, reproduction and feeding ecology of elasmobranchs associated to trawling fisheries in the Pacific of Costa Rica. This information will be extremely important to develop better management strategies focused on the sustainability of marine resources. Other projects include the study of trophic ecology of demersal elasmobranchs in Costa Rica. Recently I started my PhD at James Cook University (Townsville, Australia). My main project will focus on the role of non reef sharks in reef ecosystems. My future interests are to combine telemetry techniques with physiology and fishing data to address more complex ecological and evolutionary questions. Ultimately, I would like to gain more information on the patterns and ecosystem consequences of shark declines.