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Marine Physiological Ecology Lab

A changing environment – both natural and human-caused – is the focus of our marine mammal work


Leslie Cornick believes that much of her research in the Marine Physiological Ecology lab may be summed up in one word: Synergy.

Concluding that nothing in the natural world exists in isolation – including humans – the lab explores ways that actions in the environment have consequences that show up in behavior such as marine mammal foraging.

You’ll join studies that investigate plasticity of foraging strategies of captive trained and wild sea lions and beluga whales. How do marine vertebrates, including mammals, sea turtles and fish, change their strategies in the face of changing prey? And what are the metabolic costs of making those changes?

Answers to those and related questions pursued in the Marine Physiological Ecology lab may help fisheries and other resource managers assess management plans. The lab’s findings also may contribute key data for recovery of threatened or endangered populations.

Can beach cleanups help reduce entanglements of Alaska’s Northern fur seal pups?
Derelict fishing gear, plastics and packaging material are an increasing source of injury to marine mammals. APU’s Marine Physiological Ecology lab is studying effects of entanglement on Alaska’s Northern fur seal and effectiveness of beach cleanup aimed at reducing entanglement.

The lab works directly with Alaska Native communities to collect, catalog and classify fishing debris with a goal of improving gear management. The Marine Physiological Ecology lab includes graduate student support.