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The role of sociality in cetacean ecology, evolution, and conservation

February 17, 2023 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Speaker: Dr. Amy M. Van Cise
Assistant Professor, University of Washington
Sociality – the suite of socially learned behaviors specific to a group of animals – is increasingly recognized as a survival strategy that is integral to the evolutionary ecology of many non-human animals. This is especially true in marine environments, where there are few barriers to dispersal, and top predators must find other ways to segregate and identify their niche space. In this hour I will share four examples of recent research that incorporate the lens of sociality into our understanding of the evolutionary ecology of cetaceans as top marine predators. From evolutionary trajectories to population health to management implications, understanding the effects of sociality can provide important insight relevant to both the ecology and conservation of top marine predators.

Amy Van Cise is an Assistant Professor at the University of Washington, where she studies the evolutionary ecology of cetaceans using a combination of ‘omic methods and acoustics. Amy completed a PhD in Biological Oceanography at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, where she used both acoustic and genetic approaches to study the relationship between social behavior and evolutionary processes in short-finned pilot whales. Moving across the United States, Amy then joined Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution as a Postdoctoral Scholar studying microbiomes and acoustics in beluga whales, before returning to the West Coast. When not in the lab or at a computer, Amy likes to spend as much time outside as possible either kite surfing, rock climbing, or mountain biking.