Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Kansas
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Kansas Project

Plum Island Ecosystems LTER

August 2010 - June 2018


Participating Agencies


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 Publications Publication Date
Ferry, K. H., and M. E. Mather. 2012. Spatial and temporal diet patterns of young adult and subadult striped bass feeding in Massachusetts estuaries: trends across scales. Marine and Coastal Fisheries: Dynamics, Management, and Ecosystem Science 4:30–45 2012-03-31
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 2010-01-31
Kennedy, C. G., M. E, Mather, and J. M. Smith. 2017. Quantifying integrated, spatially-explicit, ecologically-relevant, physical heterogeneity within an estuarine seascape. Estuaries and Coasts, 40(5): 1385-1397;; | Abstract 2017-04-30
Kennedy, C. G., M. E. Mather, J. M. Smith, J. T. Finn, L. A. Deegan. 2015. Discontinuities concentrate mobile predators: Quantifying organism-environment interactions at a seascape scale. Ecosphere 7(2):e01226. 10.1002/ecs2.1226. | Abstract 2016-03-31
Mather, M. E., J. T. Finn, C. G. Kennedy, L. A. Deegan, and J. M. Smith. What happens in an estuary does not stay there: patterns of biotic teleconnectivity resulting from long term ecological research. Oceanography 26(3):168–179 2013-09-30
Adam E. Rosenblatt1,*, Michael R. Heithaus2, Martha E. Mather3, Philip Matich1, James C. Nifong4, William J. Ripple5, Brian R. Silliman6. 2013. Coastal top predators and long-term ecological research. Oceanography 26(3):156–167 2013-09-30
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. 2010-12-31
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 2009-07-31
Presentations Presentation Date
Taylor, R., M. Mather, C. Kennedy, J. Smith, K. Gerber. Confluence network dynamics can create a spatial mosaic of potential top-down predator interactions 2015-08-09
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. 2010-01-28
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 2011-11-01
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) 2011-09-05
Mather, M., J. Smith, C. Kennedy, K. Gerber, R. Taylor. Mobile organisms in the ‘scape’: patterns, consequences, and challenges. Invited Symposium, American Fisheries Society, August 21-25, 2016 2016-08-21
Mather, M.E., J. M. Smith, K. M. Gerber, R.B. Taylor. 2017. Resmo: Patterns of residence and movement across sites can provide novel insights into field distribution of mobile consumers in pelagic ecosystems. Invited presentation - Symposium: “Pelagic fish seascapes: Integration of new technology and modeling.” 147th Annual Meeting, American Fisheries Society, Tampa, Florida, August 20-24th, 2017. 2017-08-20
Theses and Dissertations Publication Date
Taylor, Ryland. 2017. Using Geomorphology and Animal “Personality” to Understand ‘Scape-Scale Predator Distributions. MS Thesis, Kansas State University 2017-09-30
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. 2013-01-31
Pautzke, S. M. 2008. Distribution patterns of migratory striped bass in Plum Island Estuary, Massachusetts. MS Thesis, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 2008-08-31