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Interns Pave the Way for Alewife Research Project

Mar 10, 2010
Winter 2010
Two young professionals who grew up in Maine and went on to earn science degrees will have a major impact on a recently funded project to study alewives in the Gulf of Maine. Zach Whitener, from Long Island, Maine, was hired as a GMRI Research Technician to support the alewife project. Zach graduated from Brown University in 2009 and participated in GMRI’s internship program last summer and fall, working on monkfish and Atlantic cod. 
Matt Moretti, from Hampden, Maine, interned at GMRI at the same time. The protocols he developed to examine the population structure of Atlantic herring in the Gulf of Maine will be used for our alewife project. Matt graduated from Bates College in 2006 and earned his master’s degree at Northeastern University in 2009. 
The two-year alewife project, which is supported by a breakthrough challenge grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, is a partnership between GMRI and the University of Southern Maine. Led by Drs. Jason Stockwell (GMRI), Theo Willis (USM), and Karen Wilson (USM), the research will quantify and define the population structure of alewives throughout coastal Maine. 
Alewives make spawning runs from the ocean to freshwater lakes every spring. Despite their historical commercial and cultural importance to Maine communities, little is known about alewife ecology or biology. Alewife populations along the Atlantic coast have exhibited dramatic declines over the past 20 years, despite efforts to remove dams and restore waterways. These efforts have led to recovery in some systems but not in others. This project will provide critical information to help determine why, and inform management decisions on the conservation and sustainable use of this historic species.