Dr. Erin Oleson
Assistant Project Scientist
My research seeks to understand the habitat and distribution of marine mammals, with the specific goals of:
1) relating the production of sounds by cetaceans to behavior, sex, and the local environment allowing for more robust interpretation of acoustic studies of cetacean distribution and abundance
As part of my graduate work, I conducted several studies aimed at understanding the behavioral ecology of blue and fin whales off California with the goal of evaluating and developing passive acoustic techniques for studying population abundance, habitat, and evaluation of anthropogenic impact. During my doctoral research I employed several new technologies including acoustic recording tags and continuous long-term autonomous acoustic recorders, along with simultaneous shipboard acoustic and visual surveys to evaluate blue and fin whale calling. Among the most important results was that blue whale call production varies with sex and behavior, season and time of day and location, even within a relatively small portion of their overall population range. In particular, the association of song with male blue whales, the detection of singing animals away from large foraging aggregations, and seasonal and geographic fluctuation in the proportion of animals heard calling indicates that the calibration of acoustic and visual surveys is complex and previous studies on the seasonal habitat of singing blue whales may not represent the blue whale population as a whole.