Fisheries Ecology & Conservation

Matt Ajemian

Principal Investigator

Matt Ajemian, Ph.D.
Associate Research Professor

Dr. Matt Ajemian joined Harbor Branch in 2016 as an Assistant Research Professor. His major research interests lie in the ecology and conservation of targeted fisheries and vulnerable species, and his experience includes a variety of marine and estuarine organisms from shellfish up to sharks and rays. Dr. Ajemian's work also spans a continuum of marine and estuarine ecosystems, ranging from confined inshore lagoons to offshore artificial and natural reefs. He employs integrative approaches to tackle research questions with both theoretical ecology and applied fisheries applications, often intertwined.

In general, his research seeks to:

  1. Understand linkages between fisheries species and habitat quality (dynamic and fixed)

  2. Expand scientific knowledge on fish behavior and ecology to promote population sustainability

  3. Improve and utilize technological tools (e.g., biotelemetry) to delineate fish resource needs and multi-scale connectivity

  4. Provide imperative scientific data for stock assessment and natural resource management

Dr. Ajemian earned his Ph.D. in Marine Science at University of South Alabama and Dauphin Island Sea Lab in 2011 and spent four years as a postdoc and research scientist with the Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Over the course of his career he has developed expertise in ichthyology, ecology, and fisheries science and has covered topics such as foraging ecology, habitat use, movement behavior, fisheries impacts, and bycatch.

Current and Recent Grants

Mitigating interactions between sharks and snapper-grouper fisheries in the Southeastern US through testing of novel deterrent devices. NOAA/NMFS Bycatch Reduction and Engineering Program
PI: M.J. Ajemian (12.5%); Co-PIs: S. Kajiura, L. Brewster; J. M. Drymon;
Award Period: 8/1/2022–7/31/2023;
Budget: $197,595

Developing optimal release strategies for the protected Goliath grouper (Epinephelus itajara) relevant to recreational fisheries. Florida Sea Grant – Applied Science Projects
PI: A.B. Collins; Co-PIs: M.J. Ajemian (8.3%), A. Zangroniz;
Award Period: 6/1/2022–5/31/2024;
Budget: $300,000 (Cost-share: $ 100,000)

CAREER: Breaking ground with underwater sound – revealing elusive predator-prey interactions in benthic communities with novel technology. National Science Foundation – Biological Oceanography program
PI: M.J. Ajemian (16.7%); Collaborators: T.A. Mooney, K. Bassos-Hull;
Award Period: 1/1/2022–12/31/2026;
Budget: $1,103,081

Using a citizen-science approach to characterize shark depredation in recreational fisheries of the southeast United States. NOAA/NMFS Cooperative Research Program (NA21NMF4540279)
PI: M.J. Ajemian (8.3%); Co-PIs: L.R. Brewster, J.M. Drymon;
Award Period: 9/1/2021–8/31/2023;
Budget: $195,306

Featured Publications

Brewster, L.R., Ibrahim, A., DeGroot, B.C., Ostendorf, T.J., Zhuang, H., Cherubin, L.M., and M.J. Ajemian. 2021. Classifying Goliath Grouper (Epinephelus itajara) Behaviors from a Novel, Multi-sensor Tag. Sensors 21(19), 6392.

Ajemian, M.J., Lamboy, C., Ibrahim, A., DeGroot, B.C, Bassos-Hull, K.B., Mann, D.A., and L. Chérubin. 2021. Capturing shell-crushing by large mobile predators using passive acoustics technology. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 535: 151497

Shaw, R.L., Curtis, T.H., Metzger, G., McCallister, M.P., Newton, A., Fischer, G.C., and M.J. Ajemian. 2021. Three-dimensional movements and habitat selection of young white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) across a temperate continental shelf ecosystem. Frontiers in Marine Science 8: 643831.

Lombardo, S.M., Adams, A.J., Danylchuk, A.J., Luck, C.A., and M.J. Ajemian. 2020. Novel Deep-Water Spawning Patterns of a Shallow Water Fish. Marine Biology 167:187.

Ajemian, M.J., Drymon, J.M., Hammerschlag, N., Wells, R.J.D., Street, G., Falterman, B., McKinney, J.A., Driggers III, W.B., Hoffmayer, E.R., Fischer, C., and G.W. Stunz. 2020. Movement patterns and habitat use of tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier) across ontogeny in the Gulf of Mexico. PLoS ONE 15(7): e0234868.

HBOI ocean fish