Rebecca L. Becicka

e-mail: rebecca.becicka@upr.edu                  


• Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland

• Ungergraduate Education: Oklahoma State University 

• Degree obtained:  B.S. in Fisheries & Aquatic Ecology

• Graduate Advisor: Richard Appledorn, Ph.D.

• Area of Specialization: Biological Oceanography

• Research Interest: Fisheries biology, Ecosystem-based fisheries management, Habitat association and coral reef community structure, Ichthyology






Currently working as a research technician and Ph.D. candidate in biological marine science. I have been conducting visual surveys and sampling of the invasive lionfish Pterois volitans in Puerto Rico for the past 3 years as an AAUS diver under the guidance of Dr. Richard Appeldoorn. 

The lionfish invasion presents yet another ecological conundrum relevant to the assessment of commercially important fish stocks already in decline. Ecosystem effects of invasive lionfish in coral reef fish communities are likely to persist, and therefore it is essential to incorporate lionfish populations into modeling aspects of coral reef ecology and subsequent management efforts. Lionfish population dynamics have been studied more vigorously since the lionfish’s Atlantic invasion took off in the mid 1990’s. The regional variation amongst lionfish meta-populations is quite apparent, and invokes the need for further investigation into the controls for these populations at the regional scale. La Parguera Natural Reserve and its offshore components present an ideal location to study this variability. Modeling of life history characteristics at the population level in order to create meaningful products regarding size, age and reproductive stage of lionfish is a key component of this investigation. Modeling and analysis of such characteristics will then answer the question of possible ontogenetic movement offshore and to depths beyond recreational diver limitations. The findings of the current investigation will add insight into patterns of distribution, habitat associations, and environmental impacts of lionfish in southwest Puerto Rico. Inclusion of an increased depth profile will aid in the identification of variables influencing these movements, such as fishing pressure, resource availability and the evolutionary need to enhance fitness. Supplementary data regarding lionfish distribution will additionally enrich coral reef conservation and management efforts by refining targeted removals to control lionfish populations in lieu of natural restraints to population growth.