Victor Tuczon, habitat survey
Although he almost drowned four times as a child, Victor Ticzon is now very much at home in the water but also enjoys looking to the skies for the information he seeks on how to protect fish habitat in the Philippines.
Using habitat as a proxy, Victor’s PhD project is examining ways to use remote sensing technology to estimate juvenile fish abundance. Such knowledge, he says, will be invaluable for management purposes.
“If we know where juvenile reef fishes are most likely to aggregate, we can prioritise the selection of these areas for protection. In a setting where coastal population continues to grow, and funds for coastal resource management are relatively scarce, identifying areas for immediate protection is vital. In my research, I try to incorporate information derived from remote sensing and hydrodynamic models to predict the best sites where reef fish would be likely to aggregate. The goal is to establish Marine Protected Areas in these localities to ensure maximum population replenishment on the stressed reefs of the Philippines.”
Field work involves visiting fish in their homes which is great for someone who loves the water, and who is basically nosy. Victor examines rugosity, the number of refuge areas, and the size of openings where fish are found sheltering. He relates these physical reef features to the juvenile reef fish community in the area. This observation is done in an attempt to differentiate the habitats in terms of their physical structure, and to understand how these physical differences in the reef influence reef fish abundance and number of species.
The collected in situ data, and the spatial information derived from Acoustic Ground Discrimination Systems (AGDS), high resolution satellite image analysis and hydrodynamic models, are used as decision parameters to identify areas for protection.
The good news is remote sensing does seem to deliver accurate results in this application, therefore it is likely that it can be a useful tool for identification and management of fish habitat.