Honors & Awards

  • Stanford Graduate Fellowship (SGF), Stanford University (2017)
  • NSF GRFP, National Science Foundation (2018)

Education & Certifications

  • MS, Northwestern University, Environmental Engineering & Science (2015)
  • BS, Northwestern University, Environmental Engineering (2015)

Stanford Advisors

Current Research and Scholarly Interests

Migratory species present unique challenges and opportunities for both ecologists and resource managers. This is particularly true for oceanic predators migrating through expansive, highly-dynamic habitats. In my research, I explore many elements of such migratory behavior:

- Environmental and oceanographic processes influencing migration

- The role of social information and collective behavior in migration

- Tools for observing migratory behavior across scales

- Equitable and dynamic habitat management for protection of migratory species and human activities

All Publications

  • Scaling of maneuvering performance in baleen whales: larger whales outperform expectations. The Journal of experimental biology Segre, P. S., Gough, W. T., Roualdes, E. A., Cade, D. E., Czapanskiy, M. F., Fahlbusch, J., Kahane-Rapport, S. R., Oestreich, W. K., Bejder, L., Bierlich, K. C., Burrows, J. A., Calambokidis, J., Chenoweth, E. M., di Clemente, J., Durban, J. W., Fearnbach, H., Fish, F. E., Friedlaender, A. S., Hegelund, P., Johnston, D. W., Nowacek, D. P., Oudejans, M. G., Penry, G. S., Potvin, J., Simon, M., Stanworth, A., Straley, J. M., Szabo, A., Videsen, S. K., Visser, F., Weir, C. R., Wiley, D. N., Goldbogen, J. A. 2022; 225 (5)


    Despite their enormous size, whales make their living as voracious predators. To catch their much smaller, more maneuverable prey, they have developed several unique locomotor strategies that require high energetic input, high mechanical power output and a surprising degree of agility. To better understand how body size affects maneuverability at the largest scale, we used bio-logging data, aerial photogrammetry and a high-throughput approach to quantify the maneuvering performance of seven species of free-swimming baleen whale. We found that as body size increases, absolute maneuvering performance decreases: larger whales use lower accelerations and perform slower pitch-changes, rolls and turns than smaller species. We also found that baleen whales exhibit positive allometry of maneuvering performance: relative to their body size, larger whales use higher accelerations, and perform faster pitch-changes, rolls and certain types of turns than smaller species. However, not all maneuvers were impacted by body size in the same way, and we found that larger whales behaviorally adjust for their decreased agility by using turns that they can perform more effectively. The positive allometry of maneuvering performance suggests that large whales have compensated for their increased body size by evolving more effective control surfaces and by preferentially selecting maneuvers that play to their strengths.

    View details for DOI 10.1242/jeb.243224

    View details for PubMedID 35234874

  • Acoustic signature reveals blue whales tune life-history transitions to oceanographic conditions FUNCTIONAL ECOLOGY Oestreich, W. K., Abrahms, B., McKenna, M. F., Goldbogen, J. A., Crowder, L. B., Ryan, J. P. 2022
  • Expanding NEON biodiversity surveys with new instrumentation and machine learning approaches ECOSPHERE Kitzes, J., Blake, R., Bombaci, S., Chapman, M., Duran, S. M., Huang, T., Joseph, M. B., Lapp, S., Marconi, S., Oestreich, W. K., Rhinehart, T. A., Schweiger, A. K., Song, Y., Surasinghe, T., Yang, D., Yule, K. 2021; 12 (11)

    View details for DOI 10.1002/ecs2.3795

    View details for Web of Science ID 000723142700022

  • Advancing the Interpretation of Shallow Water Marine Soundscapes FRONTIERS IN MARINE SCIENCE McKenna, M. F., Baumann-Pickering, S., Kok, A. M., Oestreich, W. K., Adams, J. D., Barkowski, J., Fristrup, K. M., Goldbogen, J. A., Joseph, J., Kim, E. B., Kugler, A., Lammers, M. O., Margolina, T., Reeves, L., Rowell, T. J., Stanley, J. A., Stimpert, A. K., Zang, E. J., Southall, B. L., Wall, C. C., Van Parijs, S., Hatch, L. T. 2021; 08
  • Tools for integrating inertial sensor data with video bio-loggers, including estimation of animal orientation, motion, and position ANIMAL BIOTELEMETRY Cade, D. E., Gough, W. T., Czapanskiy, M. F., Fahlbusch, J. A., Kahane-Rapport, S. R., Linsky, J. J., Nichols, R. C., Oestreich, W. K., Wisniewska, D. M., Friedlaender, A. S., Goldbogen, J. A. 2021; 9 (1)
  • How adaptive capacity shapes the Adapt, React, Cope response to climate impacts: insights from small-scale fisheries CLIMATIC CHANGE Green, K. M., Selgrath, J. C., Frawley, T. H., Oestreich, W. K., Mansfield, E. J., Urteaga, J., Swanson, S. S., Santana, F. N., Green, S. J., Naggea, J., Crowder, L. B. 2021; 164 (1-2)
  • Promoting equity in scientific recommendations for high seas governance One Earth Chapman, M. S., Oestreich, W. K., Frawley, T. H., Boettiger, C., Diver, S., Santos, B. S., Scoville, C., Armstrong, K., Blondin, H., Chand, K., Haulsee, D. E., Knight, C. J., Crowder, L. B. 2021; 4 (6): 790-794
  • Predator‐scale spatial analysis of intra‐patch prey distribution reveals the energetic drivers of rorqual whale super‐group formation Functional Ecology Cade, D. E., Seakamela , M., Findlay, K. P., Fukunaga , J., Kahane‐Rapport, S. R., Warren, J. D., Calambokidis, J., Fahlbusch, J. A., Friedlaender , A. S., Hazen, E. L., Kotze , D., McCue, S., Meÿer , M., Oestreich , W. K., Oudejans, M. G., Wilke, C., Goldbogen, J. A. 2021

    View details for DOI 10.1111/1365-2435.13763

  • Animal-Borne Metrics Enable Acoustic Detection of Blue Whale Migration. Current biology : CB Oestreich, W. K., Fahlbusch, J. A., Cade, D. E., Calambokidis, J., Margolina, T., Joseph, J., Friedlaender, A. S., McKenna, M. F., Stimpert, A. K., Southall, B. L., Goldbogen, J. A., Ryan, J. P. 2020


    Linking individual and population scales is fundamental to many concepts in ecology [1], including migration [2, 3]. This behavior is a critical [4] yet increasingly threatened [5] part of the life history of diverse organisms. Research on migratory behavior is constrained by observational scale [2], limiting ecological understanding and precise management of migratory populations in expansive, inaccessible marine ecosystems [6]. This knowledge gap is magnified for dispersed oceanic predators such as endangered blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus). As capital breeders, blue whales migrate vast distances annually between foraging and breeding grounds, and their population fitness depends on synchrony of migration with phenology of prey populations [7, 8]. Despite previous studies of individual-level blue whale vocal behavior via bio-logging [9, 10] and population-level acoustic presence via passive acoustic monitoring [11], detection of the life history transition from foraging to migration remains challenging. Here, we integrate direct high-resolution measures of individual behavior and continuous broad-scale acoustic monitoring of regional song production (Figure1A) to identify an acoustic signature of the transition from foraging to migration in the Northeast Pacific population. We find that foraging blue whales sing primarily at night, whereas migratory whales sing primarily during the day. The ability to acoustically detect population-level transitions in behavior provides a tool to more comprehensively study the life history, fitness, and plasticity of population behavior in a dispersed, capital breeding population. Real-time detection of this behavioral signal can also inform dynamic management efforts [12] to mitigate anthropogenic threats to this endangered population [13, 14]).

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2020.08.105

    View details for PubMedID 33007246

  • Seasonal trends and primary contributors to the low-frequency soundscape of the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America Haver, S. M., Rand, Z., Hatch, L. T., Lipski, D., Dziak, R. P., Gedamke, J., Haxel, J., Heppell, S. A., Jahncke, J., McKenna, M. F., Mellinger, D. K., Oestreich, W. K., Roche, L., Ryan, J., Van Parijs, S. M. 2020; 148 (2): 845


    Passive acoustic monitoring of ocean soundscapes can provide information on ecosystem status for those tasked with protecting marine resources. In 2015, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) established a long-term, continuous, low-frequency (10Hz-2kHz) passive acoustic monitoring site in the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary (CBNMS), located offshore of the central United States of America (U.S.) west coast, near San Francisco, CA. The California Current flows southward along the coast in this area, supporting a diverse community of marine animals, including several baleen whale species. Acoustic data analysis revealed that both large vessels and vocalizing baleen whales contribute to the ambient soundscape of the CBNMS. Sound levels fluctuated by month with the highest levels in the fall and lowest levels in the summer. Throughout the year, very low-frequency (10-100Hz) sound levels were most variable. Vessels and whales overlap in their contributions to ambient sound levels within this range, although vessel contributions were more omnipresent, while seasonal peaks were associated with vocalizing whales. This characterization of low-frequency ambient sound levels in the CBNMS establishes initial baselines for an important component of this site's underwater soundscape. Standardized monitoring of soundscapes directly supports NOAA's ability to evaluate and report on conditions within national marine sanctuaries.

    View details for DOI 10.1121/10.0001726

    View details for PubMedID 32873009

  • A comparative analysis of dynamic management in marine and terrestrial systems FRONTIERS IN ECOLOGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT Oestreich, W. K., Chapman, M. S., Crowder, L. B. 2020

    View details for DOI 10.1002/fee.2243

    View details for Web of Science ID 000552430800001

  • The impact of environmental change on small-scale fishing communities: moving beyond adaptive capacity to community response PREDICTING FUTURE OCEANS: SUSTAINABILITY OF OCEAN AND HUMAN SYSTEMS AMIDST GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE Oestreich, W. K., Frawley, T. H., Mansfield, E. J., Green, K. M., Green, S. J., Naggea, J., Selgrath, J. C., Swanson, S. S., Urteaga, J., White, T. D., Crowder, L. B., CisnerosMontemayor, A. M., Cheung, W. W., Ota, Y. 2019: 271–82
  • Geostatistical Analysis of Mesoscale Spatial Variability and Error in SeaWiFS and MODIS/Aqua Global Ocean Color Data JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-OCEANS Glover, D. M., Doney, S. C., Oestreich, W. K., Tullo, A. W. 2018; 123 (1): 22–39
  • Coral bleaching response index: a new tool to standardize and compare susceptibility to thermal bleaching GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY Swain, T. D., Vega-Perkins, J. B., Oestreich, W. K., Triebold, C., DuBois, E., Henss, J., Baird, A., Siple, M., Backman, V., Marcelino, L. 2016; 22 (7): 2475–88


    As coral bleaching events become more frequent and intense, our ability to predict and mitigate future events depends upon our capacity to interpret patterns within previous episodes. Responses to thermal stress vary among coral species; however the diversity of coral assemblages, environmental conditions, assessment protocols, and severity criteria applied in the global effort to document bleaching patterns creates challenges for the development of a systemic metric of taxon-specific response. Here, we describe and validate a novel framework to standardize bleaching response records and estimate their measurement uncertainties. Taxon-specific bleaching and mortality records (2036) of 374 coral taxa (during 1982-2006) at 316 sites were standardized to average percent tissue area affected and a taxon-specific bleaching response index (taxon-BRI) was calculated by averaging taxon-specific response over all sites where a taxon was present. Differential bleaching among corals was widely variable (mean taxon-BRI = 25.06 ± 18.44%, ±SE). Coral response may differ because holobionts are biologically different (intrinsic factors), they were exposed to different environmental conditions (extrinsic factors), or inconsistencies in reporting (measurement uncertainty). We found that both extrinsic and intrinsic factors have comparable influence within a given site and event (60% and 40% of bleaching response variance of all records explained, respectively). However, when responses of individual taxa are averaged across sites to obtain taxon-BRI, differential response was primarily driven by intrinsic differences among taxa (65% of taxon-BRI variance explained), not conditions across sites (6% explained), nor measurement uncertainty (29% explained). Thus, taxon-BRI is a robust metric of intrinsic susceptibility of coral taxa. Taxon-BRI provides a broadly applicable framework for standardization and error estimation for disparate historical records and collection of novel data, allowing for unprecedented accuracy in parameterization of mechanistic and predictive models and conservation plans.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/gcb.13276

    View details for Web of Science ID 000378722000016

    View details for PubMedID 27074334

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5433437

  • Colored dissolved organic matter in shallow estuaries: relationships between carbon sources and light attenuation BIOGEOSCIENCES Oestreich, W. K., Ganju, N. K., Pohlman, J. W., Suttles, S. E. 2016; 13 (2): 583–95