Dr. Marcus Drymon

Dr. Marcus Drymon

Research Senior Marine Scientist

Research Assistant Professor, Department of Marine Sciences, University of South Alabama


I am a fisheries ecologist whose research has focused on the ecological role of sharks in coastal ecosystems. Most of my research has been conducted in the northern Gulf of Mexico, an ecosystem with an exciting diversity of sharks, skates and rays. In addition, I conduct collaborative research with colleagues, both within the Gulf of Mexico and beyond.

My academic training began at Coastal Carolina University, where I received a B.S in Marine Science and a B.S. in Biology. I then attended the College of Charleston, where I worked with Pat Harris and Glen Ulrich studying the age and growth of the finetooth shark (Carcharhinus isodon). After completing a M.S. at the College of Charleston, I worked for NOAA Fisheries in Pascagoula Mississippi, where I was fortunate enough to receive funding for the PhD work I completed under the guidance of Sean Powers at the University of South Alabama. 

After completing my education, which included time as a post-doctoral researcher at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, I joined the faculty at the University of South Alabama where I continued to study coastal shark populations. During this time, I’ve served as a member of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council’s Reef Fish Science and Statistical Committee (SSC), as well as a member of NOAA Fisheries Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Advisory Panel (AP). Each summer I enjoy teaching a field course titled “Shark and Ray Biology”, where I have the opportunity to expose undergraduate students to the sharks that have captivated me since childhood.

Research Interest

Recognition that improved fisheries management requires a more ecological framework is well established, yet integrating ecology into traditional fisheries management plans remains a significant challenge. This is particularly true for highly migratory species like sharks.

My research interests are in marine fisheries ecology, including assessments of species’ life history, distributions and trophic ecology in coastal ecosystems. Most of my research has been directed towards increasing management effectiveness for sharks. My research while at Dauphin Island Sea Lab (DISL) has shown that shark communities in the northern Gulf of Mexico have disparate distributions (Drymon et al. 2010) and show trophic plasticity (Drymon et al. 2012) across relatively small spatial scales.

My current research continues to explore the mechanisms responsible for this disparity through a series of multi-gear fishery-independent surveys, satellite and acoustic telemetry projects and stable isotope and gut content analyses. The central goal of my research is to recognize weaknesses in fisheries management and utilize cutting-edge technologies and techniques to address critical gaps in data.



Who We Are

Graduate Students

Emily Seubert (M.S. Student), B.S University of California Davis

Amanda Jefferson (M.S. Student), B.S. University of North Carolina Wilmington

My research objectives are to provide robust and applicable population level fisheries data to resource managers.

The first component of these objectives involves designing and applying well vetted resource surveys to the assessment of marine populations. Currently, we conduct a series of multi-gear, fishery-independent surveys in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Data from these surveys have produced publications examining across shelf distributions of sharks (Drymon et al. 2010), evaluating gear performance (Gregalis et al. 2012) and assessing demographic patterns for stocks under a harvest moratorium (Powers et al. 2012). More importantly, indices of relative abundance from these surveys have been incorporated into recent stock assessments for blacknose shark (SEDAR 21), blacktip shark (SEDAR 29), red snapper (SEDAR 31) and Atlantic sharpnose shark (SEDAR 34).

The second component of my research objectives uses the fishery-independent surveys referenced above as a platform to study the mechanisms influencing demographic patterns. I’ve recently used this approach to document trophic plasticity in a small coastal shark (Drymon et al. 2012) and quantify the factors influencing the distribution of sharks as a function of scale (Drymon et al. 2013).

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