My research relates to understanding the structure of marine ecosystems, with a focus on the eastern North Pacific and the Bering Sea. I am interested in how physical and biological processes combine to create habitat, and how animals find and make use of these marine habitats, that are changing constantly at annual, seasonal, and even daily time scales.
My work on habitat suitability began some time ago as part of my Master’s work in the Zoology department at UBC. This work involved examining the historic whaling records from the early 20th century whaling industry that operated in British Columbia. Thousands of blue, fin, humpback and sei whales were killed over about 60 years from 1903 to 1967. I used this extensive data set to identify marine areas in Pacific Canada that may be important to the different species.
More recently, I investigated the habitat of sea otters and abalone along the British Columbia coast, and the more pelagic habitat of the critically endangered North Pacific Right whale. In 2012, I completed a habitat suitability model for SARA-listed leatherback sea turtles and was the lead author on the CSAS (Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat) document recommending Critical Habitat for the species.
Marine classification strives to make sense of the ocean by developing an understanding of the ecosystems and their boundaries. My early work on this topic began at the Marine Mammal Research Unit, where in collaboration with Karin Bodtker we classified the North Pacific Ocean into regions with similar productivity. This article emphasised the seasonal changes in the North Pacific, and how it might relate to primary production.