wildlife populations

Examining the interconnectedness of marine life and habitats


What We Do:

We focus on understanding the relationships between marine animals and their environment in order to address threats to their ecosystems.

Why It Matters:

Our research supports conservation efforts and management by predicting and preventing impacts from human disturbance, habitat loss and pollution, and climate change by studying:

  • Abundance, life history characteristics, and distribution of marine animals
  • The influence of a dynamic ocean on biogeography, movement, and foraging ecology
  • Human-wildlife interaction best practices for maintaining sustainable human uses of our oceans

Primary Research Areas

  • Demography and population biology of marine vertebrates documenting the abundance, distribution, life history characteristics and vital rates of marine mammals, fish, sharks, sea turtles and seabirds
  • Ecosystem health and resilience: studying the responses of marine and estuarine animals to short-term changes in their environment; making predictions about the potential impact of larger scale perturbations such as ocean acidification and climate change
  • Biogeography and foraging ecology of marine vertebrates: evaluating seasonal movements, habitat use, diet, diving behavior and the dynamic influences of environmental change and human activities on these parameters

  • Applied ecology: engaging marine vertebrates to collect opportunistic biological and physical oceanographic data; evaluating the impact of enhancement and rehabilitation programs on free-ranging populations of fish and marine mammals
  • Human-wildlife interactions: seeking win-win solutions and promoting best practices for human activities to minimize adverse impacts such fisheries interactions, pollution, disturbance (including noise and approaching too closely) and entanglement in or ingestion of marine debris
Publications: Demography and population biology of marine vertebrates

Ackley, S. F., J. L. Bengtson, P. Boveng, M. Castellini, K. L. Daly, S. Jacobs, G. L. Kooyman, J. Laake, L. Quetin, R. Ross, D. B. Siniff, B. S. Stewart, I. Stirling, J. Torres, and P. K. Yochem). 2003. A topdown multi-disciplinary framework for examining the pack ice ecosystem of the eastern Ross Sea,Antarctica. Polar Record. 39 (210):219-230. (Cover photo).

Akamatsu, T., D. Wang, K. Wang, S. Li, S. Dong, X. Zhao, Z. Wei, J. Barlow, B. S. Stewart, M. Richlen.2008. Estimation of the detection probability for Yangtze finless porpoises (Neophocoena phocaenoides asiaeorientalis) with a passive acoustic method. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 123:4403-4411.

Castro, A., B.S. Stewart, S. Wilson, R. Hueter, P. Motta, M. Meekan, B. Bowen, S.A. Karl. 2007. Population genetics of Earth’s largest fish, the whale shark (Rhincodon typus). Molecular Ecology 16:5183-5192.

Curtis, C., B. S. Stewart, S. Karl. 2009 Pleistocene population expansion of     Antarctic seals. Molecular Ecology, 18:2112-2121.

Durden, W.N., E. D. Stolen, T. A. Jablonski, S. A. Puckett, and M. K. Stolen.  2017. Monitoring seasonal abundance of Indian River Lagoon bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops  truncatus) using aerial surveys. Aquatic Mammals.

Durden, W.N., E.D. Stolen, and M.K. Stolen. 2011. Abundance, distribution and group    composition of the Indian River Lagoon bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops truncatus, using an aerial survey. Aquatic Mammals 37: 175-186, DOI 10.1578/AM.37.2.2011.175

Mazzoil, M., Gibson, Q., Durden, W.D., Borkowski, R., Biedenbach, G., McKenna, Z., Gordon, N., Brightwell, K., Denny, M., Howells, E., Jakush, J., Moreland, L., Perna, A., and Caldwell, M. 2020. Spatiotemporal Movements of Common Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus truncatus) in Northeast Florida, U.S. Aquatic Mammals, 46(3): 285-300. doi: 10.1578/AM.46.3.2020.285

Stewart, B. S. 1997. Ontogeny of differential migration and sexual segregation in the northern elephant seals, Mirounga angustirostris. Journal of Mammalogy 78:1101-1116.

Weber, D. S., B. S. Stewart, and N. Lehman.  2004. Genetic consequences of a severe population bottleneck in the Guadalupe fur seal (Arctocephalus townsendi). Journal of Heredity 95:144-153. (Cover photo)

Yochem, P. K., J. R. Jehl, B. S. Stewart, S. Thompson, and L. Neel.  1991. Distribution and history of California Gull colonies in Nevada.  Western Birds. 22:1-12.

Publications: Ecosystem health and resilience:

DeLong, R. L., Antonelis, G. A., Oliver, C. W., Stewart, B. S., Lowry, M. C., and Yochem, P. K. 1991.  Effects of the 1982-83 El Niño on several population parameters and diet of California sea lions on the California Channel Islands. Pp. 167-172. In: Pinnipeds and El Niño: response s to environmental stress.  (F. Trillmich and K. Ono, eds.).  Springer-Verlag, Berlin.

Sleeman, J. C., M. G. Meekan, B. S. Stewart, S. G. Wilson, J. J. Polovina, J. D. Stevens, G. S. Boggs, C. J. A. Bradshaw.  2010. To go or not to go with the flow:  Environmental influences on whale shark movement patterns.   Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 390: 84-98.  (and J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol (2011). 396: 255)

Stewart, B. S., and Yochem, P. K. 1991. Northern elephant seals on the southern California Channel Islands and El Niño. Pp. 234-243. In:  Pinnipeds and El Niño: responses to environmental stress.  (F. Trillmich and K. Ono, eds.).  Springer-Verlag, Berlin.

Tosh, C., N. de Bruyn, J. Steyn, H. Bornemann, J. van den Hoff, B. S. Stewart, J. Plotz, M. Bester.  2015. The importance of seasonal sea-surface height anomalies for foraging juvenile southern elephant seals. Marine Biology 162:2131-2140. DOI 10.1007/s00227-015-2743-4

Publications: Biogeography and foraging ecology of marine vertebrates

Ackley, S. F.,  J. L. Bengtson, P. Boveng, M. Castellini, K. L. Daly, S. Jacobs, G. L. Kooyman, J. Laake, L. Quetin, R. Ross, D. B. Siniff, B. S. Stewart, I. Stirling, J. Torres, and P. K. Yochem. 2003. A top-down multi-disciplinary framework for examining the pack ice ecosystem of the eastern Ross Sea, Antarctica.  Polar Record. 39 (210):219-230. (Cover photo).

Bengtson, J. L., and B. S. Stewart.  1997. Diving patterns of a Ross seal (Ommatophoca rossii) near the eastern coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. Polar Biology, 18:214-218.

Durden, W.N., O’Corry-Crowe, G., Shippee, S., Jablonski, T., Rodgers, S. Mazzoil, M. Howells, E., Hartel, E., Potgieter, B., Londono, C., Moreland, L., Townsend, F., McCulloch, S. and Bossart, G. 2019. Small-scale movement patterns, activity budgets, and association patterns of radio-tagged Indian River Lagoon bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus).  Aquatic Mammals, 45(1): 66-87. doi: 10.1578/AM.45.1.2019.66

Hartel, E.F., Durden, W.N., and O’Corry-Crowe, G. 2020. Testing satellite telemetry within narrow ecosystems: Nocturnal movements and habitat use of bottlenose dolphins within a convoluted estuarine system. Animal Biotelemetry, 8,13.

Linzey, D. W., W. Wiltschko, R. Wiltschko, R. K. J. Lohmann, C. M. F. Lohman, and B. S. Stewart. 2003. Migration and navigation (vertebrates). Pp. 252-256, In: McGraw-Hill Yearbook of Science & Technology. McGraw-Hill, New York. 512 pp.

Rossman, S., P.H. Ostrom, M. Stolen, N.B. Barros, H. Gahdhi,, C. A. Stricker, and R.S. Wells. 2015. Individual specialization in the foraging habits of female bottlenose dolphins living in a trophically diverse and habitat rich estuary. Oecologia 178 (2):415-425.

Stewart, B. S. and R. L. DeLong. 1995. Double migrations of the northern elephant seal.  Journal of Mammalogy 76:196-205.

Stewart, B. S., G. A. Antonelis, J. D. Baker, and P.K. Yochem.  2006. Foraging biogeography of Hawaiian monk seals in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Atoll Research Bulletin 543:131-145.

Wilson, S. G., J. J. Polovina,  B. S. Stewart, and M. Meekan. 2006. Movements of whale sharks tagged at Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia. Marine Biology 148: 1157-1166.

Publications: Applied ecology

Brillinger, D.R. and B. S. Stewart. 2010. Stochastic modelling of particle movement with application to marine biology and oceanography.  J. Statistical Planning and Inference. 140:3597-3607.

Esson, D.W., H.N. Nollens, T.L. Schmitt, K.J. Fritz, C.A. Simeone, B.S. Stewart. 2015. Aphakic phacoemulsification and automated vitrectomy and post-return monitoring of a rehabilitated harbor seal (Phoca vitulina richardsi) pup. Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine. 46:647-651.

Stewart, B. S. Introduction and background on the rescue, rehabilitation, and scientific studies of JJ, an orphaned California gray whale calf.  2001. Aquatic Mammals 27: 203-208.

Stewart, B. S., J. Harvey, and P. K. Yochem.  2001. Post-release monitoring and tracking of a rehabilitated California gray whale. Aquatic Mammals 27: 294-300.

Zagzebski, K.A., F.M.D. Gulland, M. Haulena, M.E. Lander, D. J.Greig, L. J.Gage, M.B. Hanson, P.K.Yochem and B.S. Stewart. 2006.Twenty-five years of rehabilitation of odontocetes stranded in central and northern California, 1977 to 2002. Aquatic Mammals 32:334-345.

Publications: Human-wildlife interactions

Durden, W.N. The harmful effects of inadvertently conditioning a wild bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) to interact with fishing vessels in the Indian River Lagoon, Florida, USA. 2005. Aquatic Mammals, 31(4): 413-419.

Koehler, H. R., B. S. Stewart, P. Carroll, & T. Rice. 2002. Legal instruments for the prevention and management of disposal and loss of fishing gear at sea. Pp. 330-343, In:  Proceedings of the International Marine Debris Conference on Derelict Fishing Gear and the Ocean Enviornment. (N. McIntosh, K. Simonds, M. Donohue, C. Brammer, S. Mason, & S. Carbajal, eds. National Marine Sanctuaries, NOAA).

Li, S., T. Akamatsu, D. Wang, K. Wang, S. Dong, X. Zhao, Z. Wei, X. Zhang, B. Taylor, L. A. Barrett, S. T. Turvey, R. R. Reeves, B. S. Stewart, M. Richlen, and J. R. Brandon. Indirect evidence of boat avoidance behavior of Yangtze finless porpoises.  Bioacoustics 17: 174-176.

Noke, W. D. and D. K. Odell. Interactions between the Indian River Lagoon blue crab fishery and the bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops truncatus. 2002. Marine Mammal Science 18: 819-832.

Stolen, M.K., W.N. Durden, T. Mazza, N. Barros, J. St. Leger. 2013. Effects of recreational fishing gear on bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the Indian River Lagoon system, Florida. Marine Mammal Science 29: 356-364

Turvey, S. T., R. L. Pitman, B. L. Taylor, J. Barlow, T. Akamatsu, L. A. Barrett, X. Zhao, R. R. Reeves, B. S. Stewart, K. Wang, Z. Wei, X. Zhang, M. Richlen, T. Pusser, J. R. Brandon, and D. Wang. 2007. First human-caused extinction of a cetacean species? Biology Letters 3:537-540.

Ylitalo, G. M., M. Myers, B. S. Stewart, P. K. Yochem, R. Braun, L. Kashinsky, D. Boyd, G. A. Antonelis, S. Atkinson, L. A. Woodward, A. Aguirre, and M. M. Krahn. 2008. Organochlorine contaminants in endangered Hawaiian monk seals (Monachus schauinslandi) from four Northwestern Hawaiian Islands subpopulations. Marine Pollution Bulletin. 56:231-244. Doi:10.1016/jmarpolbul.207.09.034.

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