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Dori Dick's PhD, 2016


Spatio-temporal Analysis and Modeling in the Marine Environment: Humpback Whale Genetic Variability and Seabird Distributions in the Northeastern Pacific Ocean 

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Geography, Oregon State University, Summer 2016

Graduate committee: D. Wright, J. Jones, R. Kennedy, L. Torres, S. Carozza (with C.S. Baker and J. Graham prior)

Dori Dick
College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State Univ
Corvallis, OR 97331-5503

The rapid decline of marine ecosystems worldwide and the failure of traditional single species management pushed for the development of ecosystem-based conservation measures such as marine protected areas (MPA) to slow the loss of marine biodiversity. One approach to MPA creation advocates targeting marine megafauna (e.g., marine mammals, seabirds, sharks, etc.) and assumes protective measures for megafauna will extend safeguards to areas of ocean productivity and other species dependent on that productivity. The marine spatial planning (MSP) process requires spatially explicit information resulting in the development of map products used in planning and decision making. The crux of map creation is georeferenced species occurrence data (presence-only and presence-absence). This three-part study takes a multidisciplinary approach, combining geography, marine conservation, molecular ecology, and spatial ecology to explore species occurrence data and development of novel geoanalytical tools, spatial analyses, and predictive modeling to inform the MSP process and help design more effective MPA networks for North Pacific marine megafauna (humpback whales and seabirds). Chapter 2 includes the development of geneGIS, a customized Arc Marine data model and suite of computational GIS tools to explore, analyze, and visualize spatially explicit, individual-based records from North Pacific humpback whale photo-identification and genetic data. Unlike most occurrence data, this presence-only dataset is enriched by the addition of genetic information enabling mangers to factor in population structure and genetic diversity, and thus maximize species resilience, when designing MPAs. Chapters 3 and 4 focus on using presence-absence data to develop spatially explicit ecological models to identify multispecies seabird aggregations (hotspots) and assess how these locations may shift with climate change within the California Current System. Key to both components is an improved understanding of what factors influence the presence of a species and/or its genetic variability to enable present day planning and design of MPA networks to ensure adequate protection will be in place now and as climate change progresses. This information can also be used to inform policy decisions by adapting strategies to reduce non-climate stressors such as fishery pressures and coastal development in areas predicted to be important to marine species in the future.

Dissertation Defense (24 Mb PDF file)

Photos of Defense and Commencement

Download Dissertation via ScholarsArchive@OSU permanent collection

Journal Article 1 (Transactions in GIS, 2014)

geneGIS Software

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