Education & Certifications
Bachelors of Science, University of Guelph, Marine and Freshwater Biology (2016)
Predator‐scale spatial analysis of intra‐patch prey distribution reveals the energetic drivers of rorqual whale super‐group formation
View details for DOI 10.1111/1365-2435.13763
Microplastics and microfibers in surface waters of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, California.
Marine pollution bulletin
2021; 165: 112148
Despite a recent report of high concentrations of microplastics and microfibers in the mesopelagic waters of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS), little is known about these particles in surface waters. From 2017 to 2019, we sampled two nearshore and two offshore locations within MBNMS using a manta trawl and analyzed these samples for microplastics and microfibers. We found an average concentration of 1.32 ± 0.70 (SE) particles per m3. We found the highest concentration of particles closest to shore, and the lowest concentration above the remote Davidson Seamount. Fiber-like debris was more common in offshore, as compared to nearshore, sites. Overall, particles in our samples were primarily buoyant synthetic polymers, including polypropylene and polyethylene. Our results provide baseline data on the degree of microplastic and microfiber pollution in MBNMS surface waters and confirm that this pollution can be found in waters from the surface to at least 1000 m depth.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2021.112148
View details for PubMedID 33610108
Energetic and physical limitations on the breaching performance of large whales.
The considerable power needed for large whales to leap out of the water may represent the single most expensive burst maneuver found in nature. However, the mechanics and energetic costs associated with the breaching behaviors of large whales remain poorly understood. In this study we deployed whale-borne tags to measure the kinematics of breaching to test the hypothesis that these spectacular aerial displays are metabolically expensive. We found that breaching whales use variable underwater trajectories, and that high-emergence breaches are faster and require more energy than predatory lunges. The most expensive breaches approach the upper limits of vertebrate muscle performance, and the energetic cost of breaching is high enough that repeated breaching events may serve as honest signaling of body condition. Furthermore, the confluence of muscle contractile properties, hydrodynamics, and the high speeds required likely impose an upper limit to the body size and effectiveness of breaching whales.
View details for DOI 10.7554/eLife.51760
View details for PubMedID 32159511
Scaling of swimming performance in baleen whales.
The Journal of experimental biology
The scale-dependence of locomotor factors have long been studied in comparative biomechanics, but remain poorly understood for animals at the upper extremes of body size. Rorqual baleen whales include the largest animals, but we lack basic kinematic data about their movements and behavior below the ocean surface. Here we combined morphometrics from aerial drone photogrammetry, whale-borne inertial sensing tag data, and hydrodynamic modeling to study the locomotion of five rorqual species. We quantified changes in tail oscillatory frequency and cruising speed for individual whales spanning a threefold variation in body length, corresponding to an order of magnitude variation in estimated body mass. Our results showed that oscillatory frequency decreases with body length (∝ length-0.53) while cruising speed remains roughly invariant (∝ length0.08) at 2 m s-1 We compared these measured results for oscillatory frequency against simplified models of an oscillating cantilever beam (∝ length-1) and an optimized oscillating Strouhal vortex generator (∝ length-1). The difference between our length-scaling exponent and the simplified models suggests that animals are often swimming non-optimally in order to feed or perform other routine behaviors. Cruising speed aligned more closely with an estimate of the optimal speed required to minimize the energetic cost of swimming (∝ length0.07). Our results are among the first to elucidate the relationships between both oscillatory frequency and cruising speed and body size for free-swimming animals at the largest scale.
View details for DOI 10.1242/jeb.204172
View details for PubMedID 31558588
Allometric scaling of morphology and engulfment capacity in rorqual whales.
Journal of morphology
Body length is one of the most important factors that influence organismal function and ecological niche. Although larger animals tend to have a suite of physiological advantages, such as lower mass-specific metabolic rates and lower costs of transport, they may also experience significant limitations to unsteady locomotor performance or maneuverability because of the relative scaling of control surface areas and body mass. Rorqual whales are the largest of all animals and thus represent a unique study system for understanding how animals function at the extreme of body mass. Rorquals are characterized by an engulfment-filtration foraging strategy facilitated by a complex set of morphological adaptations. We studied the scaling of key morphological structures related to locomotion and feeding in six rorqual species in a comparative framework. Our analyses show that most rorqual species exhibit positive allometry of both the control surfaces and body length, but the large scaling differences between these parameters suggest that larger rorquals will predictably suffer from decreased maneuverability and unsteady locomotor performance. However, we found that the dimensions of the engulfment apparatus also exhibit positive allometry, and thus engulfment capacity was relatively greater in larger rorquals. We posit that the allometric growth in the engulfment apparatus may be an adaptation that ameliorates the detrimental effects of large size on maneuverability. Our analyses also reveal significant differences in the scaling of mass-specific engulfment capacity among rorqual species that may reflect the evolution of unique foraging behaviors and the exploitation of divergent ecological niches.
View details for PubMedID 30194740
- Allometric scaling of morphology and engulfment capacity in rorqual whales JOURNAL OF MORPHOLOGY 2018; 279 (9): 1256-1268