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Pinniped Ecology Applied Research Laboratory (PEARL)

We investigate the ecology, behavior and physiology of pinnipeds (seals, sea lions, and walrus). Pinniped stocks and population trends are analyzed in relation to predator-prey interactions, anthropogenic (man made) and natural variations in environmental conditions.

We focus on pinniped diving and foraging behavior in relation to reproductive strategies. Of particular interest are the effects of physiological constraints on behavioral plasticity, and how these influence the ability of pinnipeds to respond to environmental changes.

Our research is carried out in many locations in Oregon, California and Alaska, and as far away as Antarctica.

A key aspect of our work involves the development and application of innovative research approaches and new technologies to study animals that spend the majority of their life outside of our sphere of direct observation. Examples include infrared and 3D remote imaging, as well as development of life-long satellite transmitters to monitor health, condition and vital rates in inaccessible species such as the Steller sea lion in Alaska.

We are affiliated with the Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station, and our faculty are part of the OSU Department of Fisheries & Wildlife.

News and Events

OSU Spotlight: Education on Ice

After five hours on a 140-ton C-17 military aircraft that had taken off from Christchurch, New Zealand, Mee-ya Monnin, peering through one of the plane’s small circular windows, saw white ice covering the ocean. The members of her research team and military men on the plane with Monnin chuckled as she squealed and jumped up and down in her seat.

Read more about Monnin’s first season in Antarctica and follow her this fall as she returns at blogs.oregonstate.edu/hailingfrozenthoughts/.

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New Evidence for Predation as Key Factor in Steller Sea Lion Collapse

For the past 7 years, MMI principal investigator Markus Horning has been following the lives and deaths of endangered Alaskan Steller sea lions. His results suggest that predation, not a drop in birth rate, is the largest impediment to recovery of the species.

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Markus Horning at Science on Tap

NEWPORT – Oregon State University marine mammal researcher Markus Horning  steps to the bar for this month’s Science on Tap lecture, with The secret lives or seals: Using high-tech marvels to pry into ocean depths.

In recent research, the high-tech tools have helped show that more juvenile Steller sea lions are falling to predators than had been thought, casting doubt on prospects for the animals’ ability to recover from recent population decline in Alaskan waters.

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