Research: My research primarily involves population dynamics modeling, attempting to understand how the birthrates and survival rates have changed over time to drive the population trajectories that we see with Steller sea lions and Northern fur seals. I am also interested in the interaction of pinnipeds with fisheries and how the two may peacefully coexist. The driving factor in all my research is to further the conservation of seals and sea lions and improve the management of those factors that are affecting them.
Current and Recent Projects:
- Patch Dynamics. I am working on a small part of a much larger project focused on predator-prey dynamics in the Bering Sea. We spent two summers on St. Paul island and one summer on Bogolsof island capturing female northern fur seals and tagging them with GPS, TDR and accelerometer tags. Our goal is to better determine their foraging behavior, why the population on St. Paul is declining while the population on Bogoslof is increasing, and what affect fisheries may have on them and how a warming Bering Sea will affect them in the future. (see http://bsierp.nprb.org/focal/patch.html).
- Modeling pinniped declines in the Bering Sea. Northern fur seals, Steller sea lions and Harbor seals have all been declining in Alaska and my modeling research is focused on determining if those declines are related and how their niche partitioning may mean that some species or populations may be more or less affected than others. As a side project, I am investigating the connection between reproductive and somatic senescence in north Pacific pinnipeds and how linking the two may make models more accurate.