A collaboration with the University of California through Arina’s PhD dissertation

10-Feb-2021 (written by Arina Favilla & Ana Sequeira)

Dr Ana Sequeira has joined the dissertation committee for Ms Arina Favilla who is doing her PhD degree at the University of California, Santa Cruz (USCS).

Arina is part of The Costa Lab led by Prof Dan Costa, who is Arina’s Advisor and a key member of our MegaMove project. Arina’s PhD is focused on the intersection of movement ecology and ecophysiology of marine megafauna, and it involves exciting fieldwork using bio-logging instruments to tag elephant seals.

Last week, Arina officially advanced to candidacy in her doctoral program at UCSC, meaning she successfully completed a 15-page proposal for her PhD research, passed a 3-hour oral exam with the dissertation committee, and gave a 30-minute departmental seminar. Arina has done an extraordinary job leaving everyone excited with her proposal, which included an already published paper: Thermoregulatory Strategies of Diving Air-Breathing Marine Vertebrates!

Arina is now looking forward to continue to investigate the effects of subsurface temperature and dissolved oxygen on the diving and foraging behaviour of northern elephant seals, and to explore how to extend her work to other marine megafauna species to integrate the vertical dimension into our understanding of their movement patterns and distribution.

Congratulations to Arina for such a great achievement!

A juvenile northern elephant seal equipped with bio-logging instruments: a heat flux bio-logger and a VHF transmitter on its back and a satellite tag on its head. The heat flux sensors adhered to the skin record heat flux and skin surface temperature at two locations on the body. The cables that connect the sensors to the bio-loggers are glued to the hair with adhesive wrap and tape. The tags collected data over 3 days as the juvenile swam from Monterey back to its colony at Año Nuevo (CA, USA), where the tags were then carefully removed to retrieve the data. (Research performed under NMFS permits #19108 & #23188 and IACUC approval.)

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