Bio

Bio


I am a quantitative and computational marine ecologist specialized in research synthesis. My scientific work is on marine conservation, fishery sciences, population dynamics, and quantitative ecology with a special interest in sharks and rays. I combine ecology, statistical modeling, and computer science to approach questions on animal abundance and distribution, species interactions, large marine predators, top-down control, structure and functioning of large marine ecosystems.

Professional Education


  • Master of Science, Polytechnic University of Marche, Marine Biology (2003)
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Dalhousie University (2011)

Stanford Advisors


Research & Scholarship

Lab Affiliations


Publications

Journal Articles


  • Falling through the cracks: the fading history of a large iconic predator FISH AND FISHERIES Ferretti, F., Morey Verd, G., Seret, B., ┼áprem, J. S., Micheli, F. 2015

    View details for DOI 10.1111/faf.12108

  • Predator decline leads to decreased stability in a coastal fish community ECOLOGY LETTERS Britten, G. L., Dowd, M., Minto, C., Ferretti, F., Boero, F., Lotze, H. K. 2014; 17 (12): 1518-1525

    Abstract

    Fisheries exploitation has caused widespread declines in marine predators. Theory predicts that predator depletion will destabilise lower trophic levels, making natural communities more vulnerable to environmental perturbations. However, empirical evidence has been limited. Using a community matrix model, we empirically assessed trends in the stability of a multispecies coastal fish community over the course of predator depletion. Three indices of community stability (resistance, resilience and reactivity) revealed significantly decreasing stability concurrent with declining predator abundance. The trophically downgraded community exhibited weaker top-down control, leading to predator-release processes in lower trophic levels and increased susceptibility to perturbation. At the community level, our results suggest that high predator abundance acts as a stabilising force to the naturally stochastic and highly autocorrelated dynamics in low trophic species. These findings have important implications for the conservation and management of predators in marine ecosystems and provide empirical support for the theory of predatory control.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/ele.12354

    View details for Web of Science ID 000345216200004

    View details for PubMedID 25224645

  • Cumulative Human Impacts on Mediterranean and Black Sea Marine Ecosystems: Assessing Current Pressures and Opportunities PLOS ONE Micheli, F., Halpern, B. S., Walbridge, S., Ciriaco, S., Ferretti, F., Fraschetti, S., Lewison, R., Nykjaer, L., Rosenberg, A. A. 2013; 8 (12)

    Abstract

    Management of marine ecosystems requires spatial information on current impacts. In several marine regions, including the Mediterranean and Black Sea, legal mandates and agreements to implement ecosystem-based management and spatial plans provide new opportunities to balance uses and protection of marine ecosystems. Analyses of the intensity and distribution of cumulative impacts of human activities directly connected to the ecological goals of these policy efforts are critically needed. Quantification and mapping of the cumulative impact of 22 drivers to 17 marine ecosystems reveals that 20% of the entire basin and 60-99% of the territorial waters of EU member states are heavily impacted, with high human impact occurring in all ecoregions and territorial waters. Less than 1% of these regions are relatively unaffected. This high impact results from multiple drivers, rather than one individual use or stressor, with climatic drivers (increasing temperature and UV, and acidification), demersal fishing, ship traffic, and, in coastal areas, pollution from land accounting for a majority of cumulative impacts. These results show that coordinated management of key areas and activities could significantly improve the condition of these marine ecosystems.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0079889

    View details for Web of Science ID 000327949300012

    View details for PubMedID 24324585

  • Long-term change in a meso-predator community in response to prolonged and heterogeneous human impact SCIENTIFIC REPORTS Ferretti, F., Osio, G. C., Jenkins, C. J., Rosenberg, A. A., Lotze, H. K. 2013; 3

    View details for DOI 10.1038/srep01057

    View details for Web of Science ID 000313417700001

  • Long-term change in a meso-predator community in response to prolonged and heterogeneous human impact. Scientific reports Ferretti, F., Osio, G. C., Jenkins, C. J., Rosenberg, A. A., Lotze, H. K. 2013; 3: 1057-?

    Abstract

    Sharks and rays' abundance can decline considerably with fishing. Community changes, however, are more complex because of species interactions, and variable vulnerability and exposure to fishing. We evaluated long-term changes in the elasmobranch community of the Adriatic Sea, a heavily exploited Mediterranean basin where top-predators have been strongly depleted historically, and fishing developed unevenly between the western and eastern side. Combining and standardizing catch data from five trawl surveys from 1948-2005, we estimated abundance trends and explained community changes using life histories, fish-market and effort data, and historical information. We identified a highly depleted elasmobranch community. Since 1948, catch rates have declined by >94% and 11 species ceased to be detected. The exploitation history and spatial gradients in fishing pressure explained most patterns in abundance and diversity, including the absence of strong compensatory increases. Ecological corridors and large-scale protected areas emerged as potential management options for elasmobranch conservation.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/srep01057

    View details for PubMedID 23308344

  • From archives to conservation: why historical data are needed to set baselines for marine animals and ecosystems CONSERVATION LETTERS McClenachan, L., Ferretti, F., Baum, J. K. 2012; 5 (5): 349-359
  • The Structure of Mediterranean Rocky Reef Ecosystems across Environmental and Human Gradients, and Conservation Implications PLOS ONE Sala, E., Ballesteros, E., Dendrinos, P., Di Franco, A., Ferretti, F., Foley, D., Fraschetti, S., Friedlander, A., Garrabou, J., Guclusoy, H., Guidetti, P., Halpern, B. S., Hereu, B., Karamanlidis, A. A., Kizilkaya, Z., Macpherson, E., Mangialajo, L., Mariani, S., Micheli, F., Pais, A., Riser, K., Rosenberg, A. A., Sales, M., Selkoe, K. A., Starr, R., Tomas, F., Zabala, M. 2012; 7 (2)

    Abstract

    Historical exploitation of the Mediterranean Sea and the absence of rigorous baselines makes it difficult to evaluate the current health of the marine ecosystems and the efficacy of conservation actions at the ecosystem level. Here we establish the first current baseline and gradient of ecosystem structure of nearshore rocky reefs at the Mediterranean scale. We conducted underwater surveys in 14 marine protected areas and 18 open access sites across the Mediterranean, and across a 31-fold range of fish biomass (from 3.8 to 118 g m(-2)). Our data showed remarkable variation in the structure of rocky reef ecosystems. Multivariate analysis showed three alternative community states: (1) large fish biomass and reefs dominated by non-canopy algae, (2) lower fish biomass but abundant native algal canopies and suspension feeders, and (3) low fish biomass and extensive barrens, with areas covered by turf algae. Our results suggest that the healthiest shallow rocky reef ecosystems in the Mediterranean have both large fish and algal biomass. Protection level and primary production were the only variables significantly correlated to community biomass structure. Fish biomass was significantly larger in well-enforced no-take marine reserves, but there were no significant differences between multi-use marine protected areas (which allow some fishing) and open access areas at the regional scale. The gradients reported here represent a trajectory of degradation that can be used to assess the health of any similar habitat in the Mediterranean, and to evaluate the efficacy of marine protected areas.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0032742

    View details for Web of Science ID 000303003500099

    View details for PubMedID 22393445

  • Correlates of Vertebrate Extinction Risk in Canada BIOSCIENCE Anderson, S. C., Farmer, R. G., Ferretti, F., Houde, A. L., Hutchings, J. A. 2011; 61 (7): 538-549
  • Patterns and ecosystem consequences of shark declines in the ocean ECOLOGY LETTERS Ferretti, F., Worm, B., Britten, G. L., Heithaus, M. R., Lotze, H. K. 2010; 13 (8): 1055-1071

    Abstract

    Whereas many land predators disappeared before their ecological roles were studied, the decline of marine apex predators is still unfolding. Large sharks in particular have experienced rapid declines over the last decades. In this study, we review the documented changes in exploited elasmobranch communities in coastal, demersal, and pelagic habitats, and synthesize the effects of sharks on their prey and wider communities. We show that the high natural diversity and abundance of sharks is vulnerable to even light fishing pressure. The decline of large predatory sharks reduces natural mortality in a range of prey, contributing to changes in abundance, distribution, and behaviour of small elasmobranchs, marine mammals, and sea turtles that have few other predators. Through direct predation and behavioural modifications, top-down effects of sharks have led to cascading changes in some coastal ecosystems. In demersal and pelagic communities, there is increasing evidence of mesopredator release, but cascading effects are more hypothetical. Here, fishing pressure on mesopredators may mask or even reverse some ecosystem effects. In conclusion, large sharks can exert strong top-down forces with the potential to shape marine communities over large spatial and temporal scales. Yet more empirical evidence is needed to test the generality of these effects throughout the ocean.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2010.01489.x

    View details for Web of Science ID 000279934400012

    View details for PubMedID 20528897

  • Assessment of the Mediterranean swordfish based on the Italian harpoon fishery data. ICES CM Romeo, T., Ferretti, F., Consoli, P., Andaloro, F. 2009; K:16: 1-14
  • Loss of large predatory sharks from the Mediterranean Sea CONSERVATION BIOLOGY Ferretti, F., Myers, R. A., Serena, F., Lotze, H. K. 2008; 22 (4): 952-964

    Abstract

    Evidence for severe declines in large predatory fishes is increasing around the world. Because of its long history of intense fishing, the Mediterranean Sea offers a unique perspective on fish population declines over historical timescales. We used a diverse set of records dating back to the early 19th and mid 20th century to reconstruct long-term population trends of large predatory sharks in the northwestern Mediterranean Sea. We compiled 9 time series of abundance indices from commercial and recreational fishery landings, scientific surveys, and sighting records. Generalized linear models were used to extract instantaneous rates of change from each data set, and a meta-analysis was conducted to compare population trends. Only 5 of the 20 species we considered had sufficient records for analysis. Hammerhead (Sphyrna spp.), blue (Prionace glauca), mackerel (Isurus oxyrinchus and Lamna nasus), and thresher sharks (Alopias vulpinus) declined between 96 and 99.99% relative to their former abundance. According to World Conservation Union (IUCN) criteria, these species would be considered critically endangered. So far, the lack of quantitative population assessments has impeded shark conservation in the Mediterranean Sea. Our study fills this critical information gap, suggesting that current levels of exploitation put large sharks at risk of extinction in the Mediterranean Sea. Possible ecosystem effects of these losses involve a disruption of top-down control and a release of midlevel consumers.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2008.00938.x

    View details for Web of Science ID 000258216600021

    View details for PubMedID 18544092

  • Long Term Dynamics of the Chondrichthyan Fish Community in the Upper Tyrrhenian Sea ICES CM Ferretti, F., Myers, R. A., Sartor, P., Serena, F. 2005; N:25: 1-25

Books and Book Chapters


  • Ocean Health Handbook of Ocean Resources and Management Micheli, F., De Leo, G., Ferretti, F., , , et al Routledge. 2015
  • Sharks and other elasmobranchs World Ocean Assessment Campana, S., Ferretti, F. United Nations. 2015
  • Using Disparate Datasets to Reconstruct Historical Baselines of Animal Populations Marine Historical Ecology in Conservation Ferretti, F., Crowder, L., Micheli, F. University of California Press. 2014
  • Geographical distribution and status. 7.2.1 Mediterranean Sea Sawfish: A Global Strategy for Conservation Ferretti, F. IUCN. 2014
  • By-Catch of sharks in the Mediterranean Sea: available mitigation tools Proceedings of the Workshop on the Mediterranean Cartilaginous Fish with emphasis on Southern and Eastern Mediterranean Ferretti, F., Myers, R. A. Turkish marine research foundation; UNEP-MAP; RAC/SPA. 2006

Presentations


  • Modeling shark attack data to infer patterns of shark abundance: a case study on the California white shark population Giulio De Leo, Fiorenza Micheli

    Time Period

    4/8/2015 - 4/10/2015

    Presented To

    49th annual meeting of the American Fishery Society, California-Nevada chapter

    Location

    Santa Cruz, CA

    Collaborators

    • Giulio De Leo, Professor of Biology and Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment
  • Localizing sharkPulse for international users

    Time Period

    3/10/2015

    Presented To

    Middlebury Institute of International Studies

    Location

    Monterey, California

  • Unconventional data for shark conservation

    Time Period

    3/2/2015

    Presented To

    Departmental Seminar for the Applied Marine and Watershed Science Seminar Series, California State University of Monterey Bay

    Location

    Seaside, CA

  • Conservation for data deficient species

    Guest Lecture in Marine Conservation Biology Course

    Time Period

    2/9/2015

    Presented To

    California State University of Monterey Bay

    Location

    Seaside, California

  • Modeling shark attack data to infer patterns of shark abundance: a case study on the California white shark population

    Time Period

    6/2/2014 - 6/6/2014

    Presented To

    Sharks International

    Location

    Durban, South Africa

  • A multi decadal natural experiment on large marine protected areas Francesco Ferretti

    Kick-off meeting for the Adriatic Ecosystem Recovery Project (AMER).

    Time Period

    12/17/2013

    Presented To

    Polytechnic University of Marche

    Location

    Ancona, Italy

    Collaborators

  • Sawfish in the Mediterranean Sea: vagrant species or case of regional extinction.

    17th European Elasmobranch Association

    Time Period

    11/1/2013 - 11/3/2013

    Presented To

    The Shark Trust

    Location

    Plymouth, UK

  • Reconstructing Shark Baselines in the Ocean

    Time Period

    5/29/2013

    Presented To

    Explorer Society. Canada Chapter.

    Location

    Victoria, Canada

  • Reconstructing Shark Baselines in the Ocean.

    Time Period

    12/13/2012

    Presented To

    Polytechnic University of Marche

    Location

    Ancona, Italy

  • Priorities for elasmobranch research in the Mediterranean Sea.

    Panel of experts on the EU-MSFD and the role of the cartilaginous fishes. 16th European Elasmobranch Association Meeting.

    Time Period

    11/22/2012 - 11/25/2012

    Presented To

    University of Milan

    Location

    Milano, Italy

  • Sawfish in the Mediterranean Sea: vagrant species or case of regional extinction.

    Global Sawfish Conservation Strategy Workshop.

    Time Period

    5/21/2012 - 5/25/2012

    Presented To

    IUCN Shark specialist Group / Zoological Society of London

    Location

    London, UK

  • The shark CPUE database: reconstructing baselines of abundance and community change.

    By-catch Risk Assessment Workshop

    Time Period

    3/6/2012 - 3/8/2012

    Presented To

    Southwest Fisheries Science Center (NOAA)

    Location

    La Jolla, California

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