Prospective graduate students may contact this person about availability as a faculty advisor.
My research and academic interests follow three major routes: behavior of organisms living in groups (like schools of fish and colonially nesting seabirds), seabird ecology (mainly Common Murresa ubiquitous fish-eating coastal species in the northern hemisphere), and marine conservation. Undergraduates, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, staff and volunteers from the University community and the general public all contribute to these projects.
I am interested in why individuals live in groups (a behavioral, ecological, and evolutionary set of questions) and how gregarious organisms maintain three-dimensional structure in the face of constantly changing conditions (a traffic rule question). At the moment, we have a fish film studio set up to collect multiple digital video images of schooling fish. Once we collect 3D data on identified individuals, we plan to ask questions about conditions under which schooling rules are forced to change, or even break down.
For the past ten years I have worked on nesting colonies of the densest-nesting seabird in the world, the Common Murre. During the spring and summer months, a large part of the lab spends time in Oregon, Washington and occasionally British Columbia and Alaska, monitoring colony demographics (how many birds, how many chicks produced), and recording behavioral interactions between resident species (mainly predatorprey interactions between Bald Eagles, murres, and gulls). We use the data to predict nearshore system health (seabirds as reflectors of environmental change), study the relative contributions of direct and indirect forcing on the population dynamics of murres, and design behaviorally intelligent conservation strategies for this species.
Our conservation work is a grab-bag of projects and programs designed to find workable solutions to environmental problems in the marine systems of the Northwest. At present I am involved in two exciting conservation projects: The first is an attempt to design gear modifications in Northwest fisheries that maintain target species catch but significantly decrease bycatch, specifically of seabirds. The second is a citizen science program called the Coastal Obervation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST). COASST monitors beachcast carcasses of marine birds in coastal Washington and Oregon. Data from this program can be used for basic science, natural resource management decision-making, and public education and involvement.