Among other factors, she is studying how higher temperature can have critical effects on reproduction. Albas research interests are based on biology and ecology of marine fish reproduction and condition, under environmental and anthropogenic pressures. She is doing her PhD at the Universitat de Girona (Spain), under the supervision of Dra Marta Muñoz and Dr Josep Lloret, in the frame of the Research Group on Biodiversity and Marine Resources (GR MAR). In her thesis, she analyses the effects of global change on the condition, reproduction and parasitism of coldwater marine fishes from the West Mediterranean Sea.
Sensitive to sea warming
This is a region particularly sensitive to sea warming where the water temperature imposes the southern limit of distribution for many coldwater species. In this area the raising of the temperature is driving a distribution shift. The NW Mediterranean is becoming a “cul-de-sac” for those temperate species that are moving northwards seeking for optimal environment. In fact, during the last decades a decreasing trend in the abundances have been registered for several species facing environmental pressure. Higher temperature can have critical effects on reproduction such as phenological changes, reduction in fecundity, lower egg quality and skipped spawning events; resulting in a reduction on the productivity of the population, affecting the whole ecosystem and the fisheries.
Three weeks in Bergen
Alba has focused her PhD on three temperate species (Micromesistius poutassou, Molva macorphthalma and Argentina sphyraena) and she is analysing samples for a full annual cycle (collected onboard of research vessels and from commercial catches) from the NW Mediterranean. Additionally she has samples from two areas with different temperature regime (Balearic Islands and Iceland).
Alba has recently visited Bergen for three weeks, granted by the Annenberg Foundation. Her motivation was to enhance her knowledge on approaches to fecundity estimation. During her research stay, she is having meetings with Dr Olav Kjesbu and Dr Anders Thorsen, who are teaching her the Oocyte Packing Density methodology. This technique will help her to go further on the study of reproduction cycle and link it to environmental factors.
Parallely she is applying this methodology on hake samples, a highly commercial species in Spain. In collaboration with Dr Fran Sarborido-Rey (Spanish National Research Council) they will study reproduction dynamics of hake populations from Galician coast.
This research stay is helping her to go one step further in her research thesis, learn a new methodology, broad her aspirations and begin interesting collaborations.