My research is focused on the physiological and behavioral ecology of marine vertebrates, especially pinnipeds, seals and sea lions. My approach is to integrate physiology and behavior with the aim of addressing ecological theory. I am investigating physiological factors that impact the reproductive and foraging strategies used by marine predators. Much of my current research is focused on the physiology and behavior of northern elephant seals. My field research focuses on studies of physiology and reproduction when seals are hauled out on land to breed and diving physiology and foraging when animals are at sea. My graduate students are exploring a wide variety of research areas including stress physiology, endocrinology, fasting physiology, foraging behavior and life history strategies. My lab has strong collaborative relationships with the Institute of Marine Sciences at UCSC and the National Marine Mammal Foundation.
Recent work: We are investigating the endocrine stress responses of marine mammals and how they vary with foraging success, fasting and life-history stage. We are examining the interaction of body condition and stress responses with the reproductive and immune systems to better understand how stress has demographic impacts. Our ultimate goal is to better understand how organisms respond to climate variability and anthropogenic stressors and how these responses integrate with the stress associated with breeding. These investigations include the regulation of natality and breeding behavior by reproductive hormones and impacts of breeding on the immune system.