Marine Ecosystems and Society

Centers and Labs

Ehrhardt Laboratory/ Central America Billfish Association

Working closely with stakeholders and using state-of-the-art remote sensing technologies for data acquisition on fish behavior and habitat use, researchers in the Ehrhardt Lab conduct biological and ecological research on large pelagic species (i.e. tunas and billfish) and reef fish species (e.g. Nassau grouper and snappers).  Research on the population dynamics and fishery stock assessment modeling of complex invertebrate resources (e.g. shrimps, spiny lobsters, Queen conch, stone crab) are core activities carried out in this laboratory. We endeavor to develop scientific understanding that supports effective integration of ecosystem forcing and environmental variation on the dynamics of population recruitment processes. Our research focuses on generating scientific support to conservation management in the United Stated and internationally.

For more information, contact Lab Director Nelson Ehrhardt
Phone: 305-421-4741


Human Dimensions of Change Laboratory

Dealing with daily impermanence is coastal peoples acknowledged way of life. They watch their waters undergoing sea changes beyond their control, and accept that the ocean yields riches and just as readily as strips them away. Coastal people interact within the ecological context of constant political, economic, environmental and social climates of change. The last radical El Niño event in 1997-98 fostered immense boom-and-bust cycles in fisheries that people had to navigate in terms of decision-making and fisheries management.
Through fieldwork in multiple sites up the Latino Pacific coast, scientists in the Human Dimensions of Change Laboratory use empathic ethnography to examine lives of these coastal people in the midst of climates of change. Living in fishing villages from Galapagos to Patagonia, the scientists interview villagers and their leaders, as well as the urban industrial fleet managers and workers in processing plants, to understand decision-making and management from the various perspectives of the different competing and allied interest groups.
For more information, contact: Sarah K. Meltzoff, Ph.D.
Phone: 305-421-4087


Shark Research and Conservation Program

Directed by Dr. Neil Hammerschlag, the Predator Ecology Lab and Shark Research & Conservation Program (SRC) at the University of Miami conducts science centered broadly on food-web dynamics and the behavioral ecology, conservation biology and movement ecology of marine predators. Research projects currently underway are primarily focused on the ecology, movement and conservation of sharks. A core component of our work is to foster scientific literacy and environmental ethic in youth and the public by providing exciting hands-on field research experiences in marine conservation biology. Opportunities are especially made available for under-served populations in the sciences. To impact a global, we employ online outreach tools, including webinars, curricula, videos, blogs, and social media. Focusing primarily on the study and conservation of sharks, we employ a full-immersion educational approach that allows students to actively grow as future scientists.

Our work is composed of four overlapping focal areas:

Science – Education – Conservation – Technology

The core tenet is the science, with the others branching out and building upon it.

From a broader educational perspective, the SRC Program address two major needs in the United States and abroad: (1) a lack of engaging science education opportunities that inspire youth to learn STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) skills and adopt conservation attitudes and behaviors, and (2) a lack of knowledge and awareness about marine ecology and conservation, particularly in relation to shark species. To meet these challenges and bring about the desired change, SRC engages in numerous activities including community outreach, marine-based field, lab, and virtual research experiences and online educational activities.

The program enables the University of Miami (UM) to build upon its internationally recognized programs in marine and ecosystem science and foster innovative interdisciplinary approaches to emerging environmental issues. The Rosenstiel School offers one of the largest, most dynamic marine and atmospheric programs in the nation that will offer cutting-edge scientific support for the new program. The Abess Center, led by University of Miami Professor and National Geographic Emerging Explorer Kenny Broad, provide support in the form of innovative initiatives that bridge the gap between hard science and environmental policy.

For more information, visit:

Or contact:

Director Neil Hammerschlag

Phone: 305.421.4356


Sustainable Aquaculture Program and Fish Hatchery

The UM Rosenstiel School Aquaculture Program is supported by an innovative and progressive research and development program in sustainable aquaculture focusing on advanced, emerging technologies and management strategies. R&D priority topics are innovative hatchery technology and ecologically sound and economically efficient growout methods such as offshore aquaculture and recirculating systems.
Directed by Daniel Benetti, Ph.D., the program focuses on scientific, technological, environmental, management, social, economical, legal, and political aspects of sustainable aquaculture.  A state-of-the-art marine hatchery including maturation, live feeds, larval rearing and nursery systems as well as a world-class nutrition lab are available for conducting R&D projects, technology development and transfer and training.
For more information, visit:
Or contact:
Aquaculture Program Director and Professor Daniel Benetti, Ph.D.
Phone: 305-421-4889