Ian Zink began working with CIMAS in May 2010 after obtaining an MSc degree studying aquaculture at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (UM RSMAS). Ian had previously earned an undergraduate degree from UM (May 2004) and went on to complete his PhD degree (Dec. 2017: UM RSMAS) while employed with CIMAS. He has led and assisted with ecological monitoring; manipulative field; laboratory growth, survival, and behavioral; and ecological modeling research projects. The recurring motif of these investigations is determination of salinity regime effects on the presence, distribution, abundance, growth, survival, and productivity of targeted ecological indicator species within south Florida nearshore and estuarine marine ecosystems. Not only is salinity regime recognized as one of the main abiotic factors influencing the structure and productivity of estuarine communities, but its alteration is one of the main intended outcomes of Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) implementation. Recognized as one of the world’s largest attempts at ecological restoration, CERP intends to restore the quality, quantity, timing, and distribution of terrestrial hydrology and freshwater discharge to south Florida coastal areas. Ian is primarily involved with two CERP ecological monitoring projects, the Integrated Biscayne Bay Ecological Assessment and Monitoring (IBBEAM) program and the Juvenile Sportfish Monitoring and Assessment program, which focus on Biscayne Bay and Florida Bay, respectively. Other research topics that interest Ian include the effects of disturbance events on seagrass-associated faunal communities, recruitment of seagrass fauna to nearshore nursery areas, exotic species ecology, development of ecologically-minded aquaculture, and the development of green-gray infrastructure and living shorelines. While also providing natural habitat in urbanized settings, green-gray infrastructure can also protect infrastructure from storm surge and wave action, reduce coastal runoff and nutrient loading, and bring pleasing aesthetics to urban environments.
While the awe and inspiration from the outdoors has always been a motivation for him, Ian’s passion for marine science began in the third grade. Being from Wisconsin and Ohio, people have always been intrigued by his enthusiasm for the coast; he believes it began as a baby on the shores of Lake Superior and with family visits to New England as a young child. He appreciates paying this reverence forward by sharing his passion with younger students. Ian has co-mentored a number of undergraduate NOAA scholars as well as graduate students from UM RSMAS. He is also involved with scoping and planning of living shorelines development with NGOs, the City of Miami, Miami-Dade County, and the Village of Key Biscayne.