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Undergraduate Research Project Management System

Physiological Development in seals and sea lions

Status Current
Seeking Researchers Yes
Start Date 09/01/2008
End Date 06/30/2010
Funding Source Varies
Funding Amount
Community Partner
Related Course
Last Updated 07/05/2008 11:30AM
Keywords seal, sea lion


  Jennifer Burns

Student Researchers


Research in my lab is designed to understand how the age and physiological status of juvenile marine mammals influences their diving and foraging capacities, and on how differences in rates of physiological development impact life history traits. I currently have an active research program focused on understanding whether the rate and extent of neonatal physiological development is closely correlated with the onset of independent foraging. For all marine mammals, the ability to remain submerged for long periods of time is largely dependent on two parameters: the amount of oxygen that can be carried to depth, and the rate at which it is used. However, our research has suggested that juvenile behaviors are constrained as a result of higher oxygen use rates, smaller reserves, and reduced body size, and that these constraints likely impact growth and survival. In my research, I use a wide variety of analytical tools including computerized dive recorders, satellite telemetry and GIS techniques, as well as several more hands-on techniques such as measuring heart rate and respiration patterns, energy use, and animal condition and health status. We often have students involved in subprojects related to the overall theme. Interested students should make an inquiry to see what the current status / needs are.

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