Two Winners Chosen for ASL Early-Career Scientist Award

ASL Environmental Sciences has chosen Dr. Laura Hobbs and Dr. Roland Proud as the winners of the fourth annual Acoustic Zooplankton Fish Profiler (AZFP) early-career scientist award contest.

They are both Scotland-based marine ecologists, specializing in bioacoustics. Hobbs is associated with the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) and the University of Strathclyde, and Proud is with the University of St. Andrews. Together, they plan to deploy the AZFP in Lake Victoria, East Africa.

Their goal for this deployment will be to study the vertical distribution, dynamics and ecology of important fish species (e.g., Nile Perch, Dagaa and Haplochromines) and their prey (e.g., zooplankton).

This will provide the first continuous data set of this kind for Lake Victoria, describing both the diel and seasonal changes in species abundance and vertical distribution. This will complement the 20 years’ worth of acoustic survey data (vessel-based echosounders operating at 70 and 120 kHz), which have mapped the spatial distribution of these species.

It will be a major ecological step forward—Lake Victoria as a closed system is in many ways an ideal “natural experiment”—and a major contribution to future fisheries management.

The use of the AZFP (38/125/200/455 kHz) in this context will address many socioeconomic issues that face the East African Community while improving the knowledge of an ecosystem that is presently poorly understood. It is hoped that the project will improve sustainability by supporting the fishery that underpins regional food security and by providing new and advanced methods of data acquisition to improve stock assessment. This project will seek to link ecological modelers with fisheries management and will be used to generate a variety of collaborations and scientific publications.

Proud and Hobbs held a consultation with the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation and the Lake Victoria hydroacoustics working group in June 2019. During this consultation, the optimal placement of the AZFP within the lake was decided upon. The chosen spot is a deep section in the lake basin, to allow for the acoustic sampling of the entire water column and four-frequency analysis.

In November 2019, Proud and colleagues from St. Andrews will visit Lake Victoria to undertake a vessel-based hydroacoustic survey and deploy the mooring.

The AZFP will be collected in February 2020.


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