ACS/PS Student Research Grant Recipients

The Puget Sound Chapter of ACS (ACS/PS) was re-established in the summer of 1999 and has more than 70 members. Despite being a newer chapter, we already have a significant history of supporting research to benefit cetaceans. Reports from our grant recipients are featured in past issues of the Whulj and/or at our monthly Speaker Series.

tip: click on a year below to see details about the grants awarded that year.

Awarded three student grants ($500 each) to the Society for Marine Mammalogy's 21st Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals (San Francisco, 13-18 December 2015).

One grant was restricted to research related to acoustics or hearing in cetacean populations occurring within the waters of Alaska, Oregon, Washington, or British Columbia. Two grants were open for any type of research in cetaceans within the waters of Alaska, Oregon, Washington, or British Columbia.

The first recipient is Deborah Sharpe, who will be presenting "Using vocal dialects to assess the population structure of Bigg's killer whales in Alaska".

The second recipient is Kelsey Gil, a MSc student at the University of British Columbia. Kelsey will be presenting "Anatomical specializations for swallowing food in cetaceans."

The third recipient is Florence van Tulder, Oregon State University at Newport. Florence will be presenting "Assessment of vessel disturbance to foraging gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) along the Oregon Coast to inform sustainable ecotourism."

Awarded one student grant ($500 each) to the SMM Biennial Conference in Dunedin, New Zealand. The recipient was Julia Burrows who presented "Fine-scale foraging behavior of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) in Southeast Alaska".

Awarded two student travel grants ($500 each) to the SMM Biennial Conference in Tampa, FL.

The first recipient was Juliana Houghton who presented "Spatial use, occurrence, and group size of mammal-eating killer whales in the Salish Sea: studies in southern British Columbia and Washington state from 1986 – 2010".

The second recipient was Frances Robertson who presented "Exposure to seismic operations affects bowhead behavior and sightability in the Alaskan Arctic".

Awarded a travel grant of $400 to Sophie Pierszalowski, a student at the University of Washington, majoring in biology, who presented a poster on her research work at the ACS National Conference in Monterey, CA in November. We've asked her to present her work at a future Speaker Series meeting.

Sophie interned during the summer of 2008 with Sally Mizroch, a biologist at NOAA's National Marine Mammal Laboratory in Seattle. She assisted with the tracking of humpback and other whales around Kodiak Island in Alaska and the management of the photo-identification data gathered.

two student grants ($500 each) were awarded in July by a lottery system to help offset travel expenses to the Society of Marine Mammology's 18th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals (Quebec, October 12-16, 2009). Profiles of the two students are featured in the August 2009 Whulj.

$1,000 was granted - "Accumulation and potential long-term exposure effects of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in the Southern Resident killer whale". An individual-based modeling approach will be used to estimate the accumulation of PCBs and PBDEs in each individual killer whale in the Southern Resident population. The current accumulated levels will be projected into the future and run under various assumptions and scenarios to predict the potential long-term effects of contaminant exposure on the population. The results of this study will provide useful information for the recovery of this endangered species. Teresa Mongillo, a master's student at the University of Washington, School of Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences.

$750 - "Identifying indicators of gray whale habitat in British Columbia". The project involves collection of field data required to develop a spatially explicit habitat model for foraging gray whales (Eschrictius robustus). The research results will be used to locate marine process hotspots and identify important ecological variables contributing to coastal marine biodiversity, ultimately using such site-specific knowledge to better inform conservation and marine management policies that significantly affect important foraging habitat for gray whales in the Coast Salish Sea. A spatial model will be created using historical data on gray whale foraging intensity with metrics derived from sonar surveys of fine-scale bathymetry, coastline, and riparian influences. This GIS model will then be tested using field data collected in 2007. Laura Joan Feyrer, Masters Student , University of Victoria, Canada

$500 - "A pilot study of the population dynamics of Orcaella brevirostris (Owen in Gray, 1866) in Chilika Lagoon, Orissa, India." This project involves studying the population dynamics of the Irrawaddy dolphin at Chilika Lagoon because it is a flagship species and its effective conservation will require a better understanding of the ecological changes occurring in the lagoon. This species is critically endangered in several countries, with the subpopulation in Chilika Lagoon subject to threats from fishery interactions, boat traffic, and pollution. The methods used to carry out this study will include assessing trends in population abundance through photo-id and mark/recapture, assessing vital rates of this subpopulation (i.e. calculating mean annual birth rate), and looking at stage-based survival/breeding probability of each of the three life stages currently seen in this subpopulation (calves, juveniles, breeding females). Dominique F. Coralie D’Lima of Goa, India, Masters of Tropical Aquatic Ecology (2005), working in collaboration with the Nature Conservation Foundation (Mysore, India) on this project . Read Report (pdf format).
$500 - "Spatial and temporal summer distribution patterns of Southern Resident killer whale (Orcinus orca) pods within Washington and British Columbia inshore waters", This project will utilize existing data to characterize summer distribution of SRKW pods within Greater Puget Sound along several spatial, social (i.e. pod), and temporal gradients. Donna Hauser, M.S. Candidate, Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, 9/03-present, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
$500 - "Proposal for a project to assess the feasibility of establishing a protected area for the river dolphin shushuk (Platanista gangetica) in the Sangu River, Bangladesh". Professor Benazir Ahmed, University of Chittagong, Bangladesh - see Whulj Vol. 6, Issue 2.
$500 - "Change in killer whale (Orcinus orca) vocalisations due to anthropogenic noise". Andrew Foote, United Kingdom - see Whulj Vol. 6, Issue 1.
$500 - "Stranded Harbour Porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) and Dall's Porpoise (Phocoenoides dalli) Recovery Program for Southern Vancouver Island and Canadian Gulf Islands". Anna Hall, Master's student, University of British Columbia, Canada
$500 - "How has human modification of salmon abundance affected the abundance of southern resident killer whales (orcinus orca)?" - Shannon McCluskey

$500 - Examination of possible reasons for population decline of Southern Resident Killer whales - Stefanie Hawks-Johnson
$500 - "A Study of Population Dynamics of Harbour Porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) in the Inshore Waterways of Southern British Columbia and Development of a Small Cetacean Population Conservation Model" - Anna Hall, Master's student, University of British Columbia, Canada

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