Our research currently focuses on mercury concentrations and stable isotope signatures in seals and sea lions and their prey to help understand how heavy metals move within ecosystems and how they may impact conservation of piscivorous marine mammal species.
We also focus on assessment of diet composition using stable isotopes, body condition and general health assessment of marine wildlife, and adaptive biochemistry and metabolism in fasting marine mammals.
Within the Order Carnivora are a group of "fin footed" mammals or pinnipeds. There are 3 families of pinnipeds: Otariidae (sea lions and fur seals), Phocidae (seals), and Odobenidae (walrus). Our research currently focuses on Otariids and Phocids.
High trophic-level marine predators, such as Steller sea lions, may be vulnerable to the potential impacts of exposure to heavy metals that accumulate in marine food webs. We focus on the monitoring of contaminant concentrations in the animals' tissues to understand a) the movement of contaminants through these high latitude food webs, and b) the potential for bioaccumulation and biomagnification of heavy metal contaminants to impact human and wildlife health.