Marisa Ponte is a second year Ichthyology Lab student. She finished her B.S. in Marine Biology at the College of Charleston in 2010. During her undergraduate studies, she worked with Dr. Courtney Murren studying phenotypic plasticity in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Marisa interned at the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, estimating fecundity of Red Drum (Scaienops ocellatus). She also spent a summer studying benthic composition and invertebrate populations of the Marine Protected Areas in the Turks and Caicos Islands, as part of the School for Field Studies program. As a result of these experiences, Marisa entered Moss Landing Marine Labs in 2013 with a love for all kinds of field work!
Her research interests include but are definitely not limited to: trophic ecology, fisheries conservation, evolutionary ecology, larval distribution & recruitment, deep sea diversity and bioluminescence. Marisa is currently exploring a Master’s thesis studying top-down and bottom-up effects on morphological traits and condition in coral reef fish. Eight tropical species of various trophic levels were collected from the Southern Pacific Line Islands in 2009 and 2011 by Dr. Scott Hamilton and collaborators at Scripps. The pristine condition of some of the islands sampled provides a unique opportunity to examine the evolutionary effects of predator populations on coral reef fishes. While her thesis project will involve primarily dissection and imaging analysis, Marisa still tries to dive at every opportunity- be it PISCO surveys, geological mapping or subtidal projects.
Marisa also analyses video for Dr. Rick Starr’s video lander project, using passive video to estimate populations of overfished rockfish species in the Monterey Bay. She is student body Treasurer at Moss Landing Marine Labs. In her spare time, she loves hiking and cycling the central coast and crocheting sea creatures. Contact her at mponte at mlml.calstate.edu.