I am pursuing a PhD in the University Program in Ecology. I am broadly interested in the foraging ecology of marine mammals, particularly any novel foraging behaviors, and how we can measure their foraging success and effort. My dissertation work examines the fine-scale kinematics of foraging in three cetacean species – humpback whales, pilot whales, and bottlenose dolphins. I use short-term digital acoustic tags (DTAGs) to get high resolution data, answering questions about how animals are successful with different foraging strategies.
Before coming to Duke I completed a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Georgetown College (KY) and a Masters of Research in Marine Mammal Science from the University of St Andrews (Scotland). My masters research focused on the foraging ecology of short-finned pilot whales using acoustic and movement recording tags. We used fine-scale metrics to characterize foraging behavior in a population of pilot whales that performs unique sprinting dives. After completing my Masters I worked as a research assistant for the Sea Mammal Research Unit at St Andrews, where I used DTAGs to study echolocation behavior in a variety of species of cetaceans, from harbor porpoises to beaked whales. As part of these projects I analyzed and interpreted echograms, visual representations of echolocation clicks and the echoes returning from prey items, to determine the animal’s foraging success and make inferences about prey behavior.
Cioffi, W., N. Quick, H. Foley, D. Waples, Z. Swaim, J. Shearer, D. Webster, A. Friedlaender, B. Southall, R. Baird, D. Nowacek, and A. Read. 2021. Adult male Cuvier’s beaked whales (Ziphius cavirostris) engage in prolonged bouts of synchronous diving. Marine Mammal Science 37(3):1085-1100. doi: 10.1111/mms.12799.
Quick, N., W. Cioffi, J. Shearer, A. Fahlman, and A. Read. 2020. Extreme diving in mammals: first estimates of behavioural aerobic dive limits in Cuvier’s beaked whales. Journal of Experimental Biology 223: 222109. doi: 10.1242/jeb.222109.
Quick, N., W. Cioffi, J. Shearer, and A. Read. 2019. Mind the gap – optimizing satellite tag settings for time series analysis of foraging dives in Cuvier’s beaked whales (Ziphius cavirostris). Animal Biotelemetry 7(5). doi:10.1186/s40317-019-0167-5.
Shearer, J., N. Quick, W. Cioffi, R. Baird, D. Webster, H. Foley, Z. Swaim, D. Waples, J. Bell, and A. Read. 2019. Diving behaviour of Cuvier’s beaked whales (Ziphius cavirostris) off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Royal Society Open Science 6: 181728. doi:10.1098/rsos.181728.
Wisniewska, D.M., M. Johnson, J. Teilmann, L. R. Doñate, J. Shearer, S. Sveegaard, L. A. Miller, U. Siebert and P. T. Madsen. 2017. Response to “Resilience of harbor porpoises to anthropogenic disturbance: Must they really feed continuously?”. Marine Mammal Science 34(1):265-270. doi: 10.1111/mms.12463.
Wisniewska, D.M., M. Johnson, J. Teilmann, L. R. Doñate, J. Shearer, S. Sveegaard, L. A. Miller, U. Siebert and P. T. Madsen. 2016. Ultra-high foraging rates of harbour porpoises make them vulnerable to anthropogenic disturbance. Current Biology 26:1441-1446.
I’m a Ph.D. candidate in the Marine Science and Conservation program and associate director of the Potomac-Chesapeake Dolphin Project. I am particularly interested in species level management and the evolution of these management schemes to include growing knowledge on the biology of a species as well as knowledge from the people who directly and indirectly interact with the species, so that a more holistic approach is taken. My dissertation aims to add to and assess the current management scheme of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) residing along the United States’ mid-Atlantic coast by providing necessary biological data on dolphins in the Potomac-River-Chesapeake Bay area, as well as involving fishers in the acquisition of knowledge.
I am a fifth year PhD candidate in Marine Science and Conservation. I am interested in the sensory structures of navigation in long-distance marine migrants. For my dissertation, I am examining navigational techniques of cetaceans from several different perspectives, including satellite tag analysis, behavioral studies, and an anatomical investigation for a magnetoreceptor.
Before coming to Duke, I completed a B.S. in Marine Biology at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW). During my undergraduate career, I was the Undergraduate Stranding Coordinator for the UNCW Marine Mammal Stranding Program and a NOAA Hollings Scholar. I also completed a MSc in Marine Mammal Science from the University of St. Andrews (Scotland). My masters research focused on the fine-scale foraging techniques of the harbor porpoises using digital acoustic recording tags (DTAGs).
I am a conservation biologist and ecogeochemist interested in community structure and ecological niche under changing climatic conditions. I am keenly interested in data poor species of high conservation concern. To date, my research has focused primarily on cetacean species in the North Pacific and subarctic using passive acoustic monitoring. My current research focuses on the conservation of the eastern population of the North Pacific right whale, a population of whales on the brink of extinction (n < 35 animals) from legal and illegal commercial whaling. I use biogeochemical tracers in museum specimens from the whaling era to infer past migratory patterns and diets of North Pacific right whales. I then compare these samples to contemporary skin biopsies to infer population-scale responses to climate and whaling recovery efforts. I also use joint species distribution modeling techniques to quantify the community structure of potential right whale prey species during a recent period of rapid sea-ice loss in the right whale’s primary habitat, the southeastern Bering Sea. These data will aid managers tasked with providing adequate monitoring and recovery measures for North Pacific right whales.
Conservation biology, community ecology, spatial ecology, bioacoustics, biogeochemistry, Bayesian statistics, physiology, evolution, population dynamics
- Goldwater, M., J. Bonnel, A. Cammareri, D. L. Wright, and D. Zitterbart. (2021) Classification of dispersive gunshot call using a convoluted neural network. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 10.1121/10.00006718.
- Bonnel, J., A. T. Thode, D. L. Wright, and R. Chapman. (2020) Nonlinear time-warping for dummies: a tutorial on modal dispersion with a single hydrophone. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America [cover article]. 147, 1897. https://doi.org/10.1121/10.0000937
- Wright, D.L., C. Berchok, J. Crance, and P.J. Clapham. “Acoustic detection of the critically endangered North Pacific right whale in the northern Bering Sea.” Marine Mammal Science 35, no. 1 (January 2019): 311–26. https://doi.org/10.1111/mms.12521.
- Wright, D.L., M. Castellote, C. Berchok, D. Ponirakis, J. Crance, and P.J. Clapham. Acoustic detection of North Pacific right whales in a high-traffic Aleutian Pass, 2009-2015. Endangered Species Research 37, no. 1 (September 2018): 77-90. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00915.
- Crance, J., C. Berchok, D. Wright, A. Brewer, and D. Woodrich. “Song production by the eastern North Pacific right whale, Eubalaena japonica.” The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 144, no. 3 (September 2018): 1979–1979. https://doi.org/10.1121/1.5068641.
- Thode, A., J. Bonnel, M. Thieury, A. Fagan, C.M. Verlinden, D. Wright, J. Crance, and C. Berchok. “Using nonlinear time warping to estimate North Pacific right whale calling depths and propagation environment in the Bering Sea.” The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 142, no. 4 (October 2017): 2711–12. https://doi.org/10.1121/1.5014894.
- Wright, D.L., B. Witteveen, K. Wynne, and L. Horstmann-Dehn. “Fine-scale spatial differences in humpback whale diet composition near Kodiak, Alaska.” Marine Mammal Science 32, no. 3 (July 2016): 1099–1114. https://doi.org/10.1111/mms.12311.
- Wright, D.L., B. Witteveen, K. Wynne, and L. Horstmann‐Dehn. “Evidence of two subaggregations of humpback whales on the Kodiak, Alaska, feeding ground revealed from stable isotope analysis.” Marine Mammal Science 31, no. 4 (October 2015): 1378–1400. https://doi.org/10.1111/mms.12227.
Personal – https://www.danalwright.com/
Research Gate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Dana_Wright
I’m a fourth-year PhD candidate in the Marine Science and Conservation program, and I am also pursuing a Certificate in College Teaching. My research interests broadly lie in protected species policy, law, diplomacy, and conservation biology at an international scale. I am particularly interested in the efficacy of multilateral institutions and treaties in addressing protected species bycatch, such as through Regional Fisheries Management Organization. My research examines Indian Ocean bycatch in tuna drift gillnet fisheries, which are incredibly data deficient but thought to have very high bycatch. My dissertation aims to help address some of these knowledge gaps, as well as consider unilateral and multilateral approaches to addressing this bycatch.
My research interests in bycatch, policy, and management are influenced from my prior work experience, including as a former NOAA Knauss Marine Policy Fellow at the U.S. Department of State, a Foreign Affairs Specialist working on the MMPA Import Provisions Rule at NOAA Fisheries, and, importantly, as a masters student in Dr. Read’s lab in 2015-2017. I enjoy running, rock climbing, kayaking, and hanging out with my dog, Brisbane, in my spare time.
I am a PhD student in Marine Science & Conservation, and I am broadly interested in collective movement ecology, group decision-making, and other social processes that could impact cetaceans’ resilience to conservation threats. My dissertation research focuses on the leadership of collective movement in groups of short-finned pilot whales. I am combining several tools for marine mammal research – photo identification, digital acoustic tags, unoccupied aircraft systems (UAS, or drones), and remote biopsy sampling – to identify which individuals initiate group movements and what mechanism(s) they use to coordinate members of the group, allowing social groups to maintain cohesion over time.
Before starting my PhD, I completed my B.S. in Environmental Sciences and Biology at Duke. My undergraduate research focused on the behavioral response of wildlife to UAS, with the goal of developing species-specific best practices for the use of UAS as a tool for conservation research. I studied how feral horses respond to fixed-wing UAS flights with the Duke Marine Robotics and Remote Sensing Lab and how Hawaiian monk seals respond to hexacopter UAS flights with the NOAA Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program. After completing my undergraduate studies, I collected sightings and behavior data on large cetaceans in the Gulf of Maine as a research assistant for Allied Whale.
Prior to starting my PhD, I received a B.S degree in Biological Sciences from Georgia State University in 2019, followed by a M.S degree in Biology with a concentration in Marine and Environmental Science from Hampton University in 2022 as a NOAA Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center (LMRCSC) graduate fellow. My master’s thesis focused on estimating the effective population size and historical demography of leopard seals (Hydrurga leptonyx) in the Antarctic Peninsula using molecular genetic methods.
I am a Master of Environmental Management candidate with a concentration in Coastal Environmental Management (CEM). My research interests center around protected species management and critical habitats with a focus on marine mammals and sea turtles. I graduated in 2020 from the University of Miami, Florida with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Marine Affairs and a double major in Anthropology. Before attending Duke, I worked as a Biological Assistant Intern at Cape Lookout National Seashore where I monitored sea turtle nesting activity by conducting nest surveys and installing predator enclosures for both sea turtle nests and nesting shorebirds. At Duke, I work closely with DUML students and faculty as the CEM Program Assistant. I have also completed an independent study with Dr. Read and Brianna Elliot researching the parameters that define marine mammal stocks and how our understanding of that definition has changed since the implementation of the stock assessment program in 1994.
I am excited to continue my education at Duke and apply what I have learned by working with the Outer Banks Center for Dolphin Research (OBXCDR) as a summer intern. My work involves contributing to a long-term photo-identification monitoring study of bottlenose dolphins to examine their stock structure and movement patterns along the U.S. Atlantic coast. In my free time I enjoy hiking, kayaking, scuba diving, and just about any activity you can do on the water.
Contact info: email@example.com
Josh Meza Fidalgo
I am a Master of Coastal Environmental Management candidate primarily interested in the conservation and behavior of cetaceans. I graduated from James Madison University in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a concentration in Ecology and Environmental Biology. Afterwards I served as a Research Assistant for the 2014 Gray Whales Count survey of the northbound migration of Gray Whales through the nearshore of the Santa Barbara Channel, and then as a Blue Whale Photo Identification Intern for the Aquarium of the Pacific in conjunction with Cascadia Research Collective. Following these positions I spent over 6 years in the whale watching industry as crew, naturalist and eventually Captain. During this time I also was a regular contributor of identification photos to both Happy Whale and NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center.
I am looking forward to continuing my education and development of my skill set by working with Dr. Read and Kim Urian, curator of the Mid-Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin Catalog, to develop a catalog and better understanding of Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin known to forage with shrimp trawling vessels in the mid-atlantic. When I’m not focused on school I love to photograph wildlife, watch football and movies, and spend time with my fiance and dog.
Contact Info: firstname.lastname@example.org
I am an undergraduate student at Duke University in the Rachel Carson scholars program majoring in Marine Science and Conservation. Generally, my research interests include plastic pollution and its effects on endangered species, specifically sea turtles. I am motivated to better understand what kinds of plastic are most harmful and to find solutions to eliminate the negative consequences of interactions with marine plastic. Additionally, I believe it is important to quantify endangered species’ exposure to marine plastic to better grasp potential threats from entanglement and ingestion.
That being said, this summer, I will be taking sargassum samples off the coast of Cape Hatteras and analyzing the plastics found. Additionally, drones will be used to measure sargassum patch size and assist in quantifying abundance of plastic per patch.