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Dr Alan Shanks

Dr Alan Shanks with his trusty companion, Pushkin.

CHARLESTON — The Oregon Institute of Marine Biology will host a public event, the 2019 Bayard McConnaughey Memorial Lecture, to be presented at 7 p.m. Friday, June 7. Dr. Alan Shanks, professor of biology at OIMB, will discuss, "Dungeness crabs — their biology, ecology, and what causes cycles in their abundance." He will describe his research into the environmental and biological factors that affect the year-to-year catch in this most valuable of Oregon's coastal fisheries, and its prospects for continued sustainability.

The lecture will be held in the OIMB Boathouse Auditorium. After the lecture, a reception for Dr. Shanks will be held in the OIMB dining hall. To get to the auditorium, visitors should park along Boat Basin Drive, walk past the USCG housing, and follow signs down the lighted path beyond. Everyone is invited to attend and admission is free.

Dr. Shanks' summary of his lecture: "First I will present a brief history of the fishery. Then I will discuss the biology of the species and how the fishing regulations fit with this biology such that the fishery appears to be truly sustainable. The regulations allow for an intense fishery — essentially all the 4-year old male crabs are caught each year — but despite the intensity of fishing there is no impact on the reproductive output of the population. Then I will present my work, which is an attempt to determine what causes the year-to-year variation in the number of returning megalopae and how this eventually translates into the size of the commercial catch. In other words, I try and predict the commercial landing 4 years in advance. Surprisingly I actually can. Lastly, I am going to discuss how climate change through the generation of marine heat waves might impact the fishery."

Biographical information about the presenter: Dr. Alan L. Shanks has been a member of the University of Oregon faculty since joining the Biology Department as a resident OIMB professor in 1994. Shanks grew up in the San Francisco area and attended UC Santa Cruz as an undergraduate. During this time he began working on "marine snow," the continuous shower of organic aggregates that descend through the water column, exporting energy from the sunlit surface waters to the seafloor. Before entering graduate school he had co-authored five papers on this topic. He got a job at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and then entered graduate school there, where he studied the dispersal and oceanographic transport of marine invertebrate larvae, including crabs.  After earning his PhD, he moved to the East Coast for post-doctoral fellowships at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill's marine lab in Morehead City, then another post-doctoral position at the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography in Savannah, Georgia. He took up his first faculty appointment as an assistant professor at the Grice Marine Biological Laboratory of the College of Charleston in South Carolina, but stayed there only four years before returning to the West Coast to join the OIMB. Shanks retires from the OIMB faculty this year, after 25 years there as a world-leading researcher, a dedicated teacher, a mentor to dozens of masters' and PhD students, and a leader in the local scientific community. Shanks' research has ranged from basic curiosity-driven science and natural history to applied work on fisheries, conservation, and environmental impact. His productive research career has been largely supported by the National Science Foundation, but also by Oregon Sea Grant, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the Oregon Crab Commission, and other national and local agencies. He has published over 100 scholarly articles that have been collectively cited nearly ten thousand times in the scientific literature.

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