"Sawfish are important upper-level predators in subtropical coastal habitats, and our ability to facilitate their recovery will be an indicator of our ability to promote and maintain healthy coastal ecosystems."
Grubbs noted that the current recovery plan for smalltooth sawfish is hindered by the general lack of information on their life history and ecology. Largely unknown is even basic information concerning seasonal residency, migration patterns and habitat affinities.
"These are the gaps that we hope to fill," he said.
In the Florida Keys, Grubbs will use sophisticated satellite transmitters in collaboration with scientists from the University of Florida to study the movements and migration of the adult fish.
In Everglades National Park, Grubbs and Florida State biology graduate student Lisa Hollensead will work with colleagues from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Panama City Laboratory to delineate critical habitats for juvenile sawfish by employing both passive and active acoustic telemetry transmitters attached to the fish and listening stations to track them.
The nearly $700,000 grant to Florida State is part of $2.4 million in funding that has been awarded to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) from NOAA's Protected Species Cooperative Conservation Grants Program. Grubbs will work with the FWC as a co-investigator on the sawfish study, as will researchers from UF and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
In addition, Grubbs has won a nearly $15,000 grant from the National Geographic Society's Expeditions Council that he will use to lead a voyage to a remote region of the Bahamas in search of smalltooth sawfish.
"Critical to the recovery likelihood for this species is the amount of exchange or degree of isolation between U.S. and adjacent population segments," he sai
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Florida State University