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Brendan Runde

PhD Student, Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology

Center for Marine Sciences and 119



Jeffrey A. Buckel


2017 – M.S. Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology, NC State
2013 – B.S. Biology and Fisheries Science, Summa Cum Laude, Virginia Tech

Research Interests

For decades, fishery managers in the US southeast and around the globe have struggled to find a solution to the downward trend in stocks of deepwater reef fishes. This fishery is comprised of generally long-lived bottom-dwelling species, many of which have historical value as food fish. High rates of bycatch and associated mortality have resulted in the decline and near-extirpation of some species that were once prevalent, which has caused a paradigm shift in the availability of these fish to recreational and commercial fishers alike. My dissertation research compares two management options that are frequently touted as solutions to a variety of problems in marine fisheries (including imperilment of deepwater reef fishes): spatial closures and modification to gear or release procedure.

For investigating spatial closures, I am leading a study to evaluate the effect of the Snowy Wreck Marine Protected Area relative to a control area. This study incorporates historical (pre-MPA-designation) data from both sites. This study is a collaborative effort between NCSU, National Marine Fisheries Service, UNC Wilmington, and local commercial and charter fishermen.

Descender Devices and Grouper

A critically endangered Speckled Hind (Epinephelus drummondhayi) with an acoustic transmitter tag dorsally. Fish such as this one are tagged and re-pressurized using a descender device called a SeaQualizer.

Many species of reef fish have experienced declines in population for a variety of reasons. Groupers such as snowy grouper (Epinephelus niveatus) and speckled hind (Epinephelus drummondhayi) are some of the most notorious of this bunch. Due to their low numbers, these fish are the subject of strict harvest restrictions. These species frequently inhabit waters of 400’ or more, meaning when they are caught and brought to the surface they often suffer from severe barotrauma. Possibly the most detrimental effect of barotrauma in these species is their inability to resubmerge below the surface due to expanded internal gases. A section of my research is dedicated to learning whether it is possible to significantly increase the chances of survival after release of such individuals by forcing recompression using a tool called a descender device. Fish are attached to a weighted tool called a SeaQualizerTM that is programmed to release the fish at a certain depth. We tag fish with acoustic transmitters and track their movements to determine whether they survived the capture and release event. We recently published our first round of results of this study – see Runde and Buckel (2018) publication below.

Recompression of Speckled Hind using SeaQualizer descender device

Watch the Recompression of Speckled Hind using SeaQualizer descender device video on YouTube.


  • N.M. Bacheler, K.W. Shertzer, J.A. Buckel, P.J. Rudershausen, and B.J. Runde. 2018. Behavior of gray triggerfish Balistes capriscus around baited fish traps determined from fine-scale acoustic tracking. Marine Ecology Progress Series 606:133-150. View PDF.
  • B.J. Runde, J.E. Harris, and J.A. Buckel. 2018. Symposium review: using electronic tags to estimate vital rates in fishes. Fisheries 43: 268-270. View PDF.
  • B.J. Runde and J.A. Buckel. 2018. Descender devices are promising tools for increasing survival in deepwater groupers. Marine and Coastal Fisheries 10: 100-117. View PDF.

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