USING TECHNOLOGY TO EXPLORE OCEANS 

 

New tools, models, and technologies help researchers learn, discover, and understand complex marine environments in ways we never thought possible. Explore HMSC labs using pioneering technologies to address the challenges of a changing world. 

ACOUSTICS LAB

The Acoustics Lab is part of the Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies (CIMRS). Our acoustic research falls into three areas: Ocean Ambient Sound, Geophysical Sound, and BioAcoustics.

NOAA’s PACIFIC MARINE ENVIRONMENTAL LAB (PMEL)

NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) is a federal laboratory that makes critical observations and conducts groundbreaking research to advance our knowledge of the global ocean and its interactions with the earth, atmosphere, ecosystems, and climate. 

PMEL’s mission is to a) observe, analyze and predict oceanic and atmospheric phenomena, b) lead the development and deployment of innovative technologies, c) identify and understand ocean-related issues of major consequence, and d) inform society with well-documented, high-quality science. 

Key research areas at PMEL include ocean acidification, tsunami detection, and forecasting, hydrothermal vent systems, fisheries oceanography, and long-term climate monitoring and analysis.

SEABIRD OCEANOGRAPHY LAB

The Seabird Oceanography Lab (SOL) at Oregon State University is involved in research focusing on seabird ecology, movement ecology, oceanography, and integrated ecosystem studies while providing research and educational opportunities for students. 

Research applications range from colony- and vessel-based observational studies to deploying state of the art electronics to study individual foraging, dispersal, migration, and behavior patterns of seabirds. These biologging data are often integrated with in-situ and remotely-sensed measures of prey resources or their proxies or related to human activities (e.g., fishing) or threats. In addition to environmental "bottom-up" studies, we also study the "top-down" effects of predators on seabird population dynamics and life histories. 

Conservation aspects of the research include species restoration, population assessment to understand better and monitoring, seabird-fishery interactions, identification of marine important bird areas, and marine spatial planning.

PLANKTON ECOLOGY LAB

The Sponaugle-Cowen Plankton Ecology Laboratory conducts basic and applied research on the ecology of marine fishes and the dynamics of their early life history stages. They are especially interested in the processes underlying the growth, survival, and dispersal of early life stages, leading to successful settlement and recruitment to the benthic populations. Most of their work has focused on marine fishes in a variety of systems but especially those on tropical coral reefs. Some of their interdisciplinary efforts have focused on identifying the physical and biological processes creating a temporal and spatial pattern in offshore larval distributions and overall larval supply. Other efforts have been directed at identifying the linkages between the pelagic life of larvae and subsequent recruitment of juveniles to the reef. The lab's overarching goal is to better understand the events occurring in the pelagic larval stage that influence population replenishment and connectivity. The data they collect is not only relevant to ecology and oceanography, but also are useful for quantifying overall population replenishment, designing and evaluating marine reserves, and interpreting future environmental changes.

GEOSPATIAL ECOLOGY OF MARINE MEGAFAUNA LAB (GEMM)

The GEMM Lab focuses on the ecology, behavior, health, and conservation of marine megafauna, including cetaceans, pinnipeds, seabirds, and sharks. We aim to fill knowledge gaps about species ecology, health, and distribution patterns so that conservation efforts can be more directed and effective at reducing space-use conflicts with human activities.

We work closely with partners and stakeholders to fully understand issues and needs, and prioritize communication of our work and findings through a variety of formal and informal outlets.

WHALE TELEMETRY GROUP

The Marine Mammal Institute's Whale Telemetry Group (WTG) has pioneered the development of satellite-monitored radio tags to study the movements, critical habitats, and dive characteristics of free-ranging whales and dolphins around the world. Since the first deployment of a satellite tag on a humpback whale off Newfoundland, Canada, in 1986, the WTG has tagged a total of 462 whales from 11 different species. This work has led to the discovery of previously unknown migration routes and seasonal distribution (wintering and summering areas), as well as descriptions of diving behavior.

The WTG primarily focuses on endangered whale species whose distribution, movements, and critical habitats (feeding, breeding, and migration areas) are unknown for much of the year. Decision-makers use this valuable information to manage human activities that may jeopardize the recovery of endangered whale populations.

The objectives of the WTG’s telemetry studies are to (1) identify whale migration routes; (2) identify specific feeding and breeding grounds, if unknown; (3) characterize local whale movements and dive habits in both feeding and breeding grounds, and during migration; (4) examine the relationships between whale movements/dive habits and prey distribution, time of day, geographic location, or physical and biological oceanographic conditions; (5) provide surfacing-rate information that can be useful in the development of more accurate abundance estimations, or assessing whales’ reactions to human disturbance; (6) characterize whale vocalizations; and (7) characterize sound pressure levels to which whales are exposed.

WILL WHITE- FISHERIES OCEANOGRAPHY LAB

Our lab uses a variety of quantitative and empirical tools to investigate the dynamics of marine populations and communities across a range of spatial and temporal scales.

The overall goal of the lab is to investigate factors affecting the population dynamics of marine fisheries across spatial scales. Consequently we work on topics ranging from small scales, focused on individual behavioral decisions (e.g., how do predators choose patches of prey?), to large scales, dealing with the influence of larval dispersal, oceanographic conditions, and fishery management strategies on source-sink dynamics, fishery productivity, and the design of marine protected areas.  In all of these efforts, we utilize quantitative approaches that allow us to “scale up” small-scale processes to examine their population-level consequences and vice versa.

Current research topics in our lab include the effects of size-selective mortality on the population dynamics of sex-changing fish, the role of nonconsumptive (fear) effects of predators on oyster populations, and methods to detect short-term changes in the size structure of fish populations due to changes in fishery management.