Jay Williams

The use of steroid hormone concentrations to determine individual variability in the reproductive cyclicity of the little skate, Leucoraja erinacea, in the western Gulf of Maine.

Many sharks, rays, and skates are vulnerable to exploitation by direct and indirect fisheries because of common life history characteristics, such as low fecundity, and already low biomasses.  Recent studies into the most widespread skate in the Gulf of Maine, the little skate,Leucoraja erinacea, have described a considerable decline in population size.

To determine overall population sustainability it is imperative to ascertain the reproductive status of individuals in the population.  Previous studies have sacrificed skates to perform gross examinations of morphological changes in the reproductive tract.  Conversely, Jay's graduate research will analyze steroid hormone profiles, a non-lethal approach, to determine the reproductive status of the little skate.  Her research will not only provide much needed insight into the life history, sustainable biomass and current condition of the little skate, but will also provide a humane method to monitor the population's condition in the future.

For more information about this project, please email Jay at lwilliams8@une.edu.