Shenker, Jonathan

Associate Professor
Biological Sciences

Personal Overview

The Sportfish Research Institute (SRI) is dedicated to studies of the sport fishery species that are tremendously important to Florida. Research focuses on bonefish, tarpon, snook grouper, snapper and other fish species. Dr. Shenker and the SRI are spearheading efforts to assess the response of fish populations to habitat restoration programs in the Indian River Lagoon, and to increase the productivity of managed mosquito control impoundments as a nursery habitat for snook and tarpon,  In addition, his laboratory is collaborating with Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to restore the bonefish population in the Florida Keys through studying wild spawning aggregations in the Bahamas and utilizing that work to develop an aquaclture program for bonefish that will provide a wide array of tools that can be employed for population restoration.  He is also expanding his initial research and educational endeavors on fisheries and population connectivity in Cuban ecosystems.

In addition to field and laboratory research, Dr. Shenker and his laboratory staff and students present talks and provide information to local and regional sport fishing organizations and publications. Funded in part by state and local grants, SRI also seeks funding and participation from corporations associated with the fishing industry and from private individuals.

Educational Background

B.S. Cornell University 1975
M.S. University of South Carolina 1977
Ph.D. Oregon State University 1986

Current Courses

BIO 1020 - Biological Discovery 2

BIO 3601 - Field Methods in Fisheries Science

BIO 3940 - Tropical Marine Ecology

BIO 4620 - Finfish Aquauclture and Fisheries Management

BIO 5010 - Ichthyology

BIO 5045 - Reproduction and Recruitmetn of Marine Fishes


Professional Experience

Dr. Shenker has worked on the biology and ecology of fishes from many parts of the world, ranging from Florida and the Caribbean to the North Pacific Ocean and West Africa. He also studies a wide range of habitats, including freshwater, estuarine, and deep ocean systems, artificial and natural reefs, marshes and sea grasses, and anywhere else fish might live. His fisheries biology and aquaculture research has determined how oceanographic and meteorological conditions can control the annual variability of economically important fish populations, and how habitats can be managed to enhance their suitability for fishes. He has published 45+ papers, and had graduated 44 M.S. students and 7 Ph.D. students during his 25 years at Florida Tech. A large number of undergraduate students work as research assistants in his laboratory, and many conduct their own research projects.

Additional Duties

Dive Officer, Florida Tech Dive Control Board

Co-Chair, Indian River Lagoon Research Institute

Member, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee



Current Research

Several major current projects focus on processes affecting the recruitment and survival of larval and juvenile fishes. These programs include an intense analysis of larval fish distribution, abundance, growth and survival of American shad and other fish species in the St. Johns River. Other studies examine the transport of larval fishes in the Gulf Stream, the role of estuarine marshes as nursery habitats for juvenile tarpon, and the utilization of nearshore sandy and rock reef habitats by fishes. New projects on reproductionve biology and larval culture of lionfish and ladyfish are getting underway in 2012.   Graduate students participate in these studies as well as other projects such as investigation of exotic fish species in Florida and recruitment processes in Hawaii. Undergraduates are presently conducting a number of their own projects; papers on transport of paralarval cephalopods in the Gulf Stream, and the distribution and abundance of larval/juvenile native and invasive catfish in the St. Johns River will be ready for submission for publication in fall 2012.

Selected Publications

Poulakis, G.R., J.M. Shenker and D. Scott Taylor. 2002. Habitat use by fishes after tidal reconnection of an impounded estuarine wetland in the Indian River Lagoon, Florida (USA). Wetlands Ecology and Management 10:51-69.

Bartels, C., T. Anderson, M. Hixon and J.M. Shenker. 2002. Larval recruitment in Exuma Sound, Bahamas: Comparison of Light Trap and Channel Net Data. U.S. Fishery Bulletin 100:404-413.

Shenker, J.M, R. Crabtree, E. Cowie, H. Patterson, C. Stevens, K. Yakubik. 2002. Recruitment of tarpon (Megalops atlanticus) leptocephali into the Indian River Lagoon, Florida. Contrib. Mar. Sci. 35:55-69.

Dankwa, H.R., J.M. Shenker, J. Lin, P.K. Ofori-Danson, and Y. Ntiamoa-Baidu. 2004.
Fisheries of Two Tropical Lagoons in Ghana, West Africa. Fisheries Management and Ecology 11:379-386.

Blandon, I. R., R. Ward, F. J. Garca De Len, S. J. Robertson, A. M. Landry, A. O. Anyyanwu, J. M. Shenker, M. Figuerola, T. C. Gesteira, A. Zerbi, C. D. Acua Leal, W. Dailey. 2007. Studies in Conservation Genetics of Tarpon (Megalops atlanticus) I. Microsatellite Variation across the Distribution of the Species. Pp. 131-147 In: Ault, J.S. Biology and Management of the World Tarpon and Bonefish Fisheries. CRC Press.

Dahlgren, C, J.S. Shenker and R. Mojica. 2007. Ecology of bonefish during the transition from late larvae to early juveniles. Pp. 155-179 In: Ault, J.S. Biology and Management of the World Tarpon and Bonefish Fisheries. CRC Press

Reyier, E. and J.M. Shenker. 2007. Ichthyoplankton community structure in a shallow subtropical estuary of the Florida Atlantic coast. Bull. Mar. Sci. 80:267-293.

Reyier, E.A., J.M. Shenker and D. Christian. 2008. Role of an estuarine fisheries reserve in the production and export of ichthyoplankton. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 359:249-260.

Adema, R. and J.M. Shenker. 2008. Lethal and sublethal effects of methylmercury on developing embryos of mahi mahi (Coryphaena hippurus). Env. Contam. Toxicol.27:2131–2135. 

Steward, C.A., K.D.  DeMaria and J.M. Shenker. 2009.  Using otolith morphometrics to quickly and inexpensively predict age in the gray angelfish (Pomacanthus arcuatus).  Fisheries Research 99:123–129.

 Jud, Z., C.A. Layman and J.M. Shenker.  2011. Diet of age-0 tarpon (Megalops atlanticus) in anthropogenically-modified and natural nursery habitats along the Indian River Lagoon, Florida.  Environmental Biology of Fishes.  90:222-233.

Adams, A., A.Z Horodysky, R.S. McBride, K. Guindon, J. Shenker, T.C. MacDonald, H.D. Harwell, R. Ward, K. Carpenter.  2013.   Global conservation status and research needs for tarpons (Megalopidae), ladyfishes (Elopidae) and bonefishes (Albulidae).  Fish and Fisheries 15: 280-311.

Stein, W., J. Shenker and M. O'Connell.  2016.  A contribution to the life history of tarpon (Megalops atlanticus) in the northern Gulf of Mexico.  15:496-512.