Impacts of Disturbance on Marine Mammals: Physiological and Behavioral Responses to Stressors

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Impacts of Disturbance on Marine Mammals: Physiological and Behavioral Responses to Stressors

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Description

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.

About the Author

Dr. Birgitte McDonald (pronouns: she/her) is an associate professor at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, where she has been teaching courses on Ecology and Physiology of Marine Vertebrates and Scientific skills since 2015. She obtained her doctoral degree at the University of California, Santa Cruz and conducted postdoctoral research at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Aarhus University (Denmark). As a physiological and behavioral ecologist, Dr. McDonald investigates adaptations that allow animals to survive in extreme environments using state-of-the-art biologgers. Understanding the mechanisms that allow an organism to interact and survive in its environment is crucial for predicting their response to climate change. Her research has provided opportunities to work with a broad range of species in a diversity of habitats from the Antarctic to the Galapagos.

Date of Event

Spring 4-13-2022

Keywords

physiological ecology, climate change, disturbance, animal health

Disciplines

Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology | Marine Biology | Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology

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1 streaming video file (59 min.) : digital, sound, color. Closed-captioned for the hearing impaired.

Impacts of Disturbance on Marine Mammals: Physiological and Behavioral Responses to Stressors

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