Impacts of Disturbance on Marine Mammals: Physiological and Behavioral Responses to Stressors
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Marine mammals play important roles in marine ecosystems and are often considered indicators of ecosystem health. Unfortunately, a growing human footprint in the marine environment has led to increased interactions between marine mammals and humans, leading to concerns about the impact of these activities on populations already facing other threats such as climate change. Exposure to disturbance from naval exercises and tourism results in short-term disruptions of natural behavior that may have energetic consequences or put the animals at greater risk to pressure related problems such as decompression sickness. To predict and quantify how marine mammals will respond to natural and anthropogenic stressors, it is essential to understand their physiological limits and the plasticity in the behavioral and physiological responses to stress. Dr. McDonald’s research addresses these knowledge gaps by 1) investigating the diving capacity and energetic requirements of breath-hold divers and 2) investigating the physiological and behavioral responses to anthropogenic stressors.
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physiological ecology, climate change, disturbance, animal health
Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology | Marine Biology | Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology
McDonald, Birgitte, "Impacts of Disturbance on Marine Mammals: Physiological and Behavioral Responses to Stressors" (2022). University Scholar Series. 48.