Field of Focus
  • Fisheries
  • Ph.D. in Resource Management and Environmental Studies, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada, 2006
  • B.S. in Marine Biology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Dr. Ainsworth is an assistant professor at the University of South Florida. He specializes in fisheries oceanography, and focuses on understanding how human activities influence the structure and functioning of marine communities.

His research is focused on understanding how human activities influence the structure and functioning of marine communities. Within this framework, he and his lab concentrate on three key areas:

1) Examining anthropogenic drivers of marine ecosystem change: fisheries, climate and other factors,

2) Examining ecosystem services and the bioeconomic rationales for conservation,

3) Developing new methods and materials for ecosystem-based management of marine systems

Human activities such as fishing, coastal development and agriculture have had a broad and sustained impact on marine ecosystems worldwide; the result has been biodiversity loss and impairment of ecosystem services. However, we can use interdisciplinary methodologies to reconstruct historic trends in catch and biomass, and thus evaluate the status of exploited ecosystems, describing anthropogenic changes over long historical periods. This can help combat the shifting cognitive baselines syndrome in fisheries, where each generation of resource users becomes accustomed to lower standards of abundance. Moreover, past ecosystems may offer a benchmark as to what a restored future may look like.

His studies have shown that where ecosystems are degraded, restoration of ecosystem health can be a cost-effective investment. We can therefore make a salient argument in support of marine conservation from an economic viewpoint by quantifying the value of ecosystem services. Ecosystem models can play a role in projecting and describing changes, forecasting climate change impacts and providing practical advice for integrated management of marine ecosystems.

GoMRI funded project:
-Center for Integrated Modeling and Analysis of Gulf Ecosystems (C-IMAGE)(RFP-I)