Skip to main content

Peter J. Auster

Peter J. Auster's bio from the University of Connecticut website:

I am a Research Professor Emeritus of Marine Sciences and was the Science Director of the former Northeast Underwater Research Technology & Education Center. I also hold an appointment as a Senior Research Scientist at Mystic Aquarium. My research focuses on the ecology and conservation of fishes and their habitats. This work has allowed me to serve as scientist or chief-scientist on over 60 major research cruises and a multitude of shore-based projects in the northwest Atlantic, Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea, Caribbean Sea, South China Sea, Indian Ocean, Gulf of California, and in the equatorial Pacific.

For 40 years (yikes!!), I have conducted studies to define how variation across underwater landscapes mediates the distribution and abundance of fishes, understand the linkages between habitat level processes and population-community dynamics, and develop survey methods for fishes living in spatially complex habitats. From an applied science perspective, I have focused on understanding the ecological impacts of fishing and on developing a scientific basis for using marine protected areas as a conservation tool.

My basic approach to fieldwork has been to use the same types of techniques underwater that wildlife biologists use on land. That is, making direct underwater observations to study how individual animals react to variations in nature. I have used scuba, research submersibles, remotely operated vehicles, and autonomous vehicles for this work. While studies in the field are used primarily to quantify patterns in nature, laboratory experiments are used to develop a mechanistic understanding of processes and collect data on rates of particular interactions (e.g., how habitat variability mediates rates of predation and predator recognition of prey). Computer modeling is then used to extrapolate results to population, community and regional scales.

I serve on a number of panels and committees that are focused on marine resource management and conservation and I am involved in several outreach initiatives that are targeted at informing the public about marine conservation issues.