Back to Home page
    Coral Reef
Contact Us
News & Press
Texas A&M logo
 Copyright Jay Rooker
Principal Investigator

Dr. Jay R. Rooker


Dr. Jay R. RookerPosition:
Regents Professor & McDaniel Chair of Marine Fisheries
Texas A&M University at Galveston
Department of Marine Biology (Galveston)
Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences (College Station)

Ph.D. University of Texas at Austin (1997)
M.S. University of Puerto Rico (1991)
B. A. Gustavus Adolphus College (1985)

Research Interests:
My research centers on the community and population ecology of aquatic organisms, with a special emphasis on marine fishes. I am particularly interested in linkages between habitat selection, individual responses, and survival. My work is both laboratory and field-based, and I typically use both quantitative and experimental approaches to elucidate the importance of biotic and abiotic factors that influence growth, condition, and survival. In addition, we are currently using a variety of natural markers to solve ecological problems. Otolith chemistry is being used to retrospectively determine the environmental histories of marine fishes. The premise of otolith chemistry is that certain elements or isotopes are incorporated into otoliths in proportion to their concentrations in the environment, and thus we use these elemental fingerprints to distinguish individuals from different environments or regions. We also use dietary tracers (stable isotopes, fatty acids) to investigate marine food web structure since consumer tissues reflect the isotopic and fatty acid composition of prey in a predictable manor. These natural biomarkers provide time-integrated or long-term measures of diet, and both approaches afford information on source(s) of organic matter supporting local food webs as well as trophic relationships of associated consumers. Recent work also involves the use of sophisticated electronic tags to investigate movement and population connectivity of coastal and pelagic fishes.

Graduate Students and Research Associates
Maelle Cornic

Ph.D. Student

M.S. Aix-Marseille II University (2009)
M.S. La Reunion University (2007)
B.S. La Rochelle University (2006)

Research Interests:
I am interested in the early life ecology of tuna species in the Gulf of Mexico. My research focuses on the factors influencing the distribution, growth and mortality of tuna larvae in the Gulf.

Larissa Kitchens

Ph.D. Student

B.S. University of Texas at Austin (2008)

Research Interests:
For my thesis, I will be researching the early life ecology of dolphinfish, Coryphaena spp., in the northern Gulf of Mexico (Gulf). Dolphinfish are a commercially and recreationally valuable pelagic species, however, knowledge of their early life history is limited. A better understanding of the early life of dolphinfish is essential for proper management of this economically important species. I will determine the distribution and abundance of Coryphaena larvae through ichtyoplankton surveys in the northern Gulf. Otoliths (ear bones) deposit alternating layers of calcium carbonate and protein on a daily basis, producing growth increments that can be counted to determine age. Using otolith microstructure analysis, I will assess spatial and temporal variations in growth rate, survivability, and recruitment across the Loop Current and its associated eddy systems, which produce paired upwelling and downwelling zones in the Gulf. Also, nutritional condition, reflecting food availability, will be analyzed through RNA:DNA ratios. This research will help us to better understand the factors affecting growth and survival of dolphinfish larvae in the Gulf.


Mike Dance

Ph.D. Student

M.S. University of West Florida (2007)
B.S. Auburn University (2004)

Research Interests:
My research interests are focused on the ecology of marine fishes, including population and community dynamics, with specific emphasis on species for which significant fisheries exist. Currently I am working on habitat use and connectivity of age 0+ (2-18 months old) red drum in Texas estuaries. I will be employing both stable isotopes and traditional stomach content analysis to look at trophic dynamics, relative contributions of primary producers, as well as connectivity of red drum utilizing different habitat types (seagrass, oyster, marsh grass, bare mud). I am also using otolith based aging techniques to look at differences in growth among different habitat types. This information is supplemented with acoustic telemetry work that will focus on ontogenetic differences in both fine-scale habitat use (resolution m2) and habitat connectivity at a bay scale (resolution 20m2). Furthermore I will be looking at red drum habitat use in response to multiple species interactions. This research will hopefully provide valuable information on essential nursery habitats and relative importance of these habitat types for red drum in Texas estuaries.


David Moulton

M.S. Student

B.S. Miami University (2012)

Research Interests:
I am interested in fisheries conservation efforts, especially those involving coastal species for which substantial fisheries exist. I am particularly interested in ecological research investigating habitat usage, movement, population connectivity, and response to environmental variables. My project will utilize acoustic telemetry to track subadult red drum and spotted seatrout in an estuarine system including portions of Corpus Christi Bay and the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve. The fine-scale movement and habitat usage data generated will be used to describe life history characteristics and assess essential habitat and connectivity between habitats and bays for each species, in order to inform management of these fisheries and identify priorities for conservation efforts.

Jessica Lee

Research Assistant

B.S. Texas A&M University (2012)

Research Interests:
I am interested in the life ecology of marine fishes and fisheries conservation. My current research involves using stable isotopes from Atlantic bluefin tuna and Pacific bigeye tuna otoliths to retrospectively determine their environmental histories.
Dr. Michelle Sluis

Postdoctoral Research Associate

B.S. Texas A&M University (2004)
Ph.D. Louisiana State University (2011)

Research Interests:
My research interests include eclolgy and population dynamics of marine fish, with an emphasis on conservation and management. My dissertation focused on examining variability in red snapper (Lutjanus campechanus) otolith microchemistry across the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) to estimate population connectivity and mixing patterns.  Additionally, I also applied stable isotope and mercury tissue analyses on Lutjanid species to explore trophic differences and regional feeding strategies across the northern Gulf.  Currently, I am examining the early life ecology of blue marlin (Makaira nigricans) in the northern Gulf.

 Former Post-Docs and Graduate Students

Lynne Wetmore (M.S. 2014)

Current Position:
Ph.D. student, Joint Doctorate with San Diego State University and UC Davis 

Landes Randall (M.S. 2014)

Current Position:
Fisheries Technician, Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Nathan Furey (M.S. 2012)

Current Position:
Ph.D. student, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C., Canada

Jeffrey Simms
(M.S. 2009)

Current Position:
Senior Staff Scientist, Cardno ENTRIX, Houston, TX

Ryan Schloesser
(M.S. 2009)

Current Position:
Ph.D. student, Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Jessica L. Beck
Dr. Jessica L. Beck (Ph.D 2008)

Current Position:
Southeast Regional Aquaculture Coordinator, Aquaculture Program, NOAA, US Department of Commerce

Joseph J. Mikulas
Joseph J. Mikulas
(M.S. 2007)

Current Position:
Secondary Science Teacher, Katy ISD, TX

Lindsay A. Glass
Dr. Lindsay Glass Campbell
(M.S. 2006)

Current Position:

Biologist, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Richard T. Kraus
Dr. Richard T. Kraus
(Post-doc 2003-2006)

Current Position:
Station Supervisor, Lake Erie Biological Station, USGS Great Lakes Science Center, Sandusky, Ohio

Yan Cai
(M.S. 2005)

Current Position:
Research Associate, Hainan University

Jason P. Turner
Dr. Jason P. Turner
(Ph.D 2004)

Current Position:
Associate Professor, University of Hawai'i at Hilo

R.J. David Wells
Dr. R.J. David Wells
(M.S. 2002, Post-doc 2007-2010)

Current Position:
Assistant Professor, Texas A&M University at Galveston

Matt W. Johnson
Matt W. Johnson
(M.S. 2000)

Current Position:
Assistant Research Scientist and Fisheries and Mariculture Program Coordinator, Texas A&M University Corpus Christi

Bert W. Geary
Bert W. Geary
(M.S. 2000)


Dave Secor, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, University of Maryland

John Graves, Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Gregorio De Metrio, University of Bari, Italy

G. Joan Holt, University of Texas Marine Science Institute

Scott Holt, University of Texas Marine Science Institute

John Neilson, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada

Jay Kaufman, University of Maryland

Enrique Rodriguez-Marin, Spanish Institute of Oceanography, Spain

Eric Prince, NOAA Fisheries-SEFSC

Barbara Block, Stanford University

Greg Stunz, Texas A&M University Corpus Christi

Will Heyman, Texas A&M University

John Hoolihan, University of Miami

Dave Itano, University of Hawaii

Haritz Arrizabalaga, AZTI Tecnalia, San Sebastian, Spain

Jim Franks, University of Southern Mississippi

Mario Sprovieri, Sicily, Italy


back to top

Dr. Jay R. Rooker Department of Marine Biology
Texas A&M University @ Galveston
1001 Texas Clipper Rd, Galveston, Texas 77554 409-740-4744
Site by Third Coast