Craig Purchase Lecture

19 November 2019


Image of Craig Purchase

Perils of Fornicating on the Beach: reproductive constraints in a keystone fish may underpin collapse of the Northwest Atlantic foodweb

A public lecture by Dr Craig Purchase, Associate Professor of Biology, Memorial University of Newfoundland and a UWA Institute of Advanced Studies Visiting Fellow.

Keystone species hold critical roles in the functioning of foodwebs. About 30 years ago, the Northwest Atlantic Ocean foodweb was uprooted with the collapse of cod stocks, and continues to undergo substantial change. Capelin are the most important fish in the region, converting zooplankton protein to forage for larger fish, seabirds and marine mammals. Major shifts in life history characteristics of capelin occurred in the early 90s concomitant with a biomass collapse, which has not recovered. Capelin are well known for their unusual sex lives, where extremely high densities of fish spawn together in the surf zone of beaches. In this talk, Dr Purchase will discuss his research on capelin reproduction, and how evolutionary constraints may underpin the observed changes in ecosystem functioning.

Dr Craig Purchase is an Associate Professor of Biology at Memorial University of Newfoundland; with Cross-Appointments to the Department of Ocean Sciences, the School of Fisheries, and the Graduate Programs in Environmental Science, and Cognitive and Behavioural Ecology. He is currently the Vice President and President-Elect of the Canadian Aquatic Resources Section of the American Fisheries Society, and is a fish expert on the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. He has been the President of the Canadian Conference for Fisheries Research, and a Dobbin Scholar of the Ireland Canada University Foundation.

Craig was born a 7th generation Newfoundlander, but a 1st generation Canadian, after Newfoundland gave up sovereignty in 1949. He received BSc (Hons) and MSc degrees from Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John’s, before completing a PhD from the University of Toronto in 2004. He then spent 2.5 years in Halifax Nova Scotia as a Postdoctoral Fellow at Dalhousie University, a Lecturer at Saint Mary’s University, and a Research Scientist at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography. In 2006 he was called back home and spent 1.5 years as a Visiting Fellow at the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Centre in St John’s, before joining the faculty of Memorial University as an Assistant Professor in 2008.

As an evolutionary-ecologist, Dr Purchase’s research interests lie in how organisms have adapted to their environment, as a result of interactions with individuals of their own and other species, and with abiotic conditions. He uses reproductive traits of fishes as tools to address questions related to sexual selection, senescence, local adaptation, hybridization and toxicology.

Dr Purchase is currently a Visiting Professor at UWA, a UWA Institute of Advanced Studies Visiting Fellow, and an International Visiting Fellow with the Forrest Research Foundation.