Dr. Dean Grubbs
Associate Research Faculty
Associate Director of Research
Ph.D., William & Mary, 2001
Research and Professional Interests
My primary research interests are ichthyology and marine ecology with emphasis exploited fishes, especially elasmobranchs. This research addresses specific questions or fills biological gaps necessary for management of fisheries resources and conservation of species of concern. As a primary tool, I use fishery-independent survey methods to study population dynamics, life histories, and distribution patterns of fishes. Recently I have used these survey techniques as tools to test methods to reduce shark bycatch and to estimate post-release mortality in vulnerable species such as great and scalloped hammerhead sharks. I also use conventional mark-recapture studies and modern telemetry techniques to acquire data on movement patterns, habitat use, residency and philopatry. A principal goal of this line of research is to delineate essential and vulnerable habitats, especially in estuaries and nearshore marine environments. For example, a major focus of my current research is providing data that will be used to designate Critical Habitat for Endangered smalltooth sawfish in the U.S. and the Bahamas and to provide managers with mechanisms to decrease sawfish bycatch in commercial fisheries.
I also have interests in the biology of pelagic and deepwater fishes. I have studied the behavioral and trophic ecology of tropical tunas, the relationship between intermediate seamounts and pelagic predators, the impact of industrial-scale fisheries on the trophic dynamics of pelagic ecosystems, and the role of mesopelagic communities in oceanic ecosystems. My deepwater research includes studies of life histories, reproductive biology, trophic ecology and movement patterns of elasmobranchs associated with island and continental slopes. By necessity, this work often includes taxonomic and phylogenetic studies to resolve uncertainties or describe new species. I currently have projects in the Gulf of Mexico and the Bahamas investigating various aspects of the biology of various species including bluntnose sixgill sharks (Hexanchus griseus), among the largest predatory sharks in the deep sea. Much of my recent deep sea work has revolved around investigating the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on deep sea bony fish, shark and scavenger communities.