James Kilfoil

My goal as Ph.D. student is to develop quantitative tools which can be used to improve the way information is collected for resource monitoring programs. This type of research is particularly needed for elasmobranchs (sharks and rays), given that we lack even the most basic information needed for the proper management for nearly 50% of all known species. As a part of my dissertation, I am working closely with the Heithaus lab on the potential uses of various video surveys (i.e. baited remote underwater video, un-baited underwater cameras, and unmanned aerial vehicles) to assess and monitor shark populations in data-limited regions. Using French Polynesia as our primary study region, I intend to investigate how these video surveys compare to traditional methods (i.e. longlines), how accurately they can track changes in abundance, and how environmental variables as well as animal behavior may influence detection rates. Our primary study site for this work is the small French Polynesian atoll of Tetiaroa. This system offers a unique opportunity to answer these questions given its pristine nature and relatively small size; enabling use to exhaustively survey the entire system. Contact: james.kilfoil@fiu.edu

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