Cooperative Research Units
Education, Research And Technical Assistance For Managing Our Natural Resources
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Plum Island Ecosystems LTER


August 2010 - June 2018


This project examines spatial and temporal distribution, movements, and trophic function of striped bass. This research matters because top fish predators have important impacts on aquatic ecosystems and are popular sportfish prized by anglers. Thus, understanding distribution, diets, and movements of mobile fish predators, like striped bass, provides foundational insights that helps our fisheries management cooperators set science-based harvest limits. The partners for this research are the National Science Foundation. My 17-year research program on these highly motile predators has allowed me to develop a series of increasingly complex scientific questions that have management implications. For example, my research started with simple striped bass distribution-feeding relationships, progressed to using acoustic telemetry to assess local movements, tested mechanisms for mobile predator aggregations, evolved to examine coastal movements, and advanced to making connections across ecosystems. Most recently, my team has tested integrated seascape distribution patterns, quantified how geomorphic features (such as confluences) influence seascape distribution, assessed multi-scale site fidelity, and identified individual distributional groups. This research informs decisions by advancing spatially-explicit frameworks for fisheries management.

Research Products and Activities

Peer Reviewed Publications

  • Mather, M. E, J. T. Finn, K. H. Ferry, L. A. Deegan, G. A. Nelson.. 2009. Use of non-natal estuaries by migratory striped bass (Morone saxatilis) in summer. Fishery Bulletin 107(3): 329-337
  • Pautzke, S. M., M. E. Mather, J. T. Finn, L. A. Deegan, R. M. Muth. 2010. Seasonal use of a New England estuary by foraging contingents of migratory striped bass. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 139: 257–269
  • Mather, M. E, J. T. Finn, S. M. Pautzke, D. Fox, T. Savoy, H. M. Brundage III, L. A. Deegan, R. M. Muth. 2010. Destinations, routes, and timing of adult striped bass on their southward fall migration: implications for coastal movements. Journal of Fish Biology 77: 2326–2337.
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  • Pautzke, S. M. 2008. Distribution patterns of migratory striped bass in Plum Island Estuary, Massachusetts. MS Thesis, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA
  • Kennedy, Cristina. 2013. Habitat heterogeneity concentrates predators in the seascape: linking intermediate-scale estuarine habitat to striped bass distribution. M. S. Thesis. University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA.
  • Taylor, Ryland. 2017. Using Geomorphology and Animal “Personality” to Understand ‘Scape-Scale Predator Distributions. MS Thesis, Kansas State University


  • Kennedy, C. G. M. E. Mather, J. T. Finn, L. A. Deegan, and S. M. Pautzke. Determining acoustic receiver range in a shallow northeastern estuary with complex bathymetry: the role of habitat, depth and tide. Southern New England Chapter, American Fisheries Society, Groton, CT, January 2010.

  • Kennedy, C. G., M. E. Mather, J. T. Finn, L. A. Deegan. The geomorphological complexity of a New England estuary and its role in shaping seasonal habitat use and site fidelity of striped bass on a foraging migration. Contributed Paper, Annual Meeting of the American Fisheries Society, Seattle, WA (September 2011)
  • Kennedy, C. G., M. E. Mather, J. T. Finn, L. A. Deegan. 2011. The complexity of habitat complexity: how physical features of a New England estuary shape seasonal habitat use of migratory striped bass. CERF Meeting, FL
  • See All ...

Current Staff

Federal Staff: 95

Masters Students: 238

Phd Students: 144

Post Docs: 54

University Staff: 239

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 673

Scientific Publications: 1905

Presentations: 4235



Funding Agencies



Cooperative Research Units Program Headquarters Cooperators

  1. U.S. Geological Survey