Brazilian scholars expand fisheries knowledge at MSU


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Posted: 12/12/2005


Far from their home 4,600 miles to the south, two husband/wife Brazilian research teams are studying fisheries and aquatic ecosystems in Mississippi.

During the just concluded fall semester, aquatic ecologists Sidinei Thomaz and Rosemara Fugi of Maringa State University have been the guests of Mississippi State wildlife and fisheries associate professor Eric Dibble. Thomaz and Fugi soon will return home.

Maristela Cavicchioli Makrakis and Sergio Makrakis are just beginning a 12-month stay at Mississippi's largest university. The fish engineering professors at the State University of Western Paraná are the guests of professor Steve Miranda, Dibble's departmental colleague.

Thomaz is an aquatic botanist working on aquatic ecosystems and plant ecology. He and Dibble have been evaluating how aquatic plants provide structural habitat and mediate species diversity in aquatic communities. Fugi is a fish biologist specializing in diets.

"Rosemara (Fugi) has been working in the laboratories with undergraduate and graduate students," Dibble said. "She has taught my students many new techniques in analyzing fish diets."

Dibble said the exchange program is part of a decade-long memorandum of agreement between MSU and Maringa State. "We currently have several graduate students studying aquatic ecosystems in Brazil," he added.

Both couples said they chose Mississippi State for the recognized quality of its research and the international reputation of Miranda and Dibble.

"I have been teaching about temporal ecosystems of the United States for many years," said Sidinei Thomaz. "However, I have never had the opportunity to see them firsthand and work with world-renowned experts in the field."

The opportunity to work with Dibble and experience the many different types of ecosystems--from Minnesota bogs to Louisiana swamps--"has been exuberating," Thomaz said.

The experience has been equally rewarding for the MSU scientists.

"Data and fisheries problems unique to Brazil are not something we normally consider," observed Miranda. "However, the data sets and problems brought to us by our exchange scholars have given us an opportunity to learn about Brazilian fisheries and then pass this knowledge on to our students."

Because many exotic species and aquatic plants found in Mississippi are native to South America's largest and most populous country, Dibble said the working relationship "allows our scientists and students the most current knowledge of the species in their native waters."

Miranda's research with the Brazilian team has a two-fold purpose: assisting the fish engineers study migratory fish moving across Brazilian hydropower dams and providing them with guidance in transferring scientific papers from Portuguese to English.

"Most of the international journals require submission of publications in English," said Miranda. "We are helping our colleagues with their analysis and techniques and how to write the results for a scientific publication."

NEWS EDITORS/DIRECTORS: For additional information on the exchange program, contact Dr. Dibble at (662) 325-7494 or; Dr. Miranda, at 325-3217 or

Wildlife and Fisheries