Abstract: Marine environments are a concealing medium, where observations of natural fish behavior are challenging. In particular, the geographic and depth distributions of migratory top predators are less understood. To overcome challenges associated with direct observation of behavior, the development of animal-borne electronic devices has allowed us to remotely observe the movements of top predators in a wide variety of habitats, leading to significant breakthroughs in our understanding of their ecology and physiology. Here, I discuss how advances in animal-borne tracking technologies have elucidated the ecosystem role, environmental preferences, and physiological capabilities of top predators across diverse habitats. Novel research approaches enabled in situ natural experiments linking behavioral and environmental observations for an elusive top predator in the largest, relatively unexplored, ecosystem on Earth – the deep sea. Approaching research questions from a physiological ecological framework further provided a mechanistic basis to project climate change effects on this deepwater species. Collectively, these results provide surprising new insights for top predators and foster improved management and conservation strategies.
Biography: Dr. Danny Coffey is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Before joining Harte Research Institute, he was at the Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology where he earned his Ph.D. from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Danny has also conducted research at the Tuna Research and Conservation Center, a collaboration between Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station and The Monterey Bay Aquarium, and earned his M.Sc. from Lund University. His research uses telemetry and biologging technologies as tools to monitor the movement and behavior of elasmobranchs and fishes across different spatial and temporal scales. This information is used to investigate the underlying ecological and physiological drivers of habitat use that are informative for managing and conserving marine resources.