Student Project: The dynamics of reproductive behavior in nearshore pipefish (Wilson Lab)

Animal reproductive behavior can be influenced both directly and indirectly by anthropogenic impacts. New York’s waterways are home to a diverse aquatic community that inhabit a distinctive urban ecosystem.  These species may face unique challenges due to their close proximity to human populations.

BUEE students participating in this project will explore reproductive behavior in the northern pipefish (Syngnathus fuscus), a species with a highly developed form of reproduction, male pregnancy. While the majority of pipefish species are genetically polygamous, the northern pipefish mates almost exclusively monogamously – the explanation for this exceptional reproductive mode is unknown.  The collection of pregnant males and their offspring allows us to track how reproductive strategies change over space and time, and how these strategies may be influenced by local ecological and environmental conditions. Students will carry out fieldwork on local populations of pipefish, and participate in behavioral experiments in Brooklyn College’s Aquatic Research and Environmental Assessment Center aimed at determining what factors drive reproductive decisions in this species.