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About Our Lab

Under the guidance of Dr. Birgitte (Gitte) I. McDonald, graduate students in the Vertebrate Ecology Lab study the physiology, behavior and ecology of marine mammals, birds and turtles. Moss Landing Marine Labs' proximity to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve provides a wealth of pelagic, near-shore, and estuarine species and habitats for local study.  Current and former Vertebrate Ecology Lab students have conducted their graduate research both locally and throughout the world, including Cape Crozier Antarctica, the Pribilof Islands of Alaska, the San Juan Islands of Washington, the Channel Islands of southern California, the Hawaiian Islands, Mexico, Australia, Costa Rica, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Vertebrate Ecology Lab is also a member of the nationwide Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding Network, sharing responsibility for strandings in Monterey County with The Marine Mammal Center. If you find a dead pinniped, cetacean, or sea turtle in Monterey county please call the MLML Stranding Hotline at 831-771-4422.

Lab News and Updates

  • EXPEDITION TO CAPE CROZIER UPDATES: October 21-27th

    The Emperor Penguin Team successfully departed Christchurch on Monday October 21st and arrived at Scott Base, Ross Island, Antarctica . Our flight on the C-17 was an easy 5 hours and the views from the fixed window were marvelous. As we approached Antarctica the plane started to get colder forcing all of the passengers to […]
  • Behind-The-Science Look At The Technology We Use to Study Emperor Penguins: 10/17/19

    Emperor penguins are the largest species of marine bird, and perhaps because of their size, they fast longer, dive deeper, and endure harsher conditions than any other avian species. As a top predator in the Antarctic ecosystem, they have a significant top-down effect on prey targeted during long, deep breath-hold dives. It is therefore essential […]
  • Funded M.S. Position Available: MLML/Monterey Bay, CA

    Alison Stimpert is recruiting a student for a funded master's of marine science position at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories in Moss Landing, California. The student will work on a NOAA/Navy funded collaborative project using passive acoustic monitoring to describe ocean soundscapes in the US West Coast Sanctuaries (Channel Islands, Monterey Bay, and Olympic Coast:  https://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/science/monitoring/sound/).  […]
  • Emperor Penguin Field Expedition 2019

    Background Despite being the first emperor penguin colony discovered in 1902 during Scott’s Discovery Expedition(1901–1904) little is known about that at-sea behavior of emperor penguins from Cape Crozier. The first science expedition to study them was in 1911, when a small group from Scott’s Terra Nova Expedition team made the perilous journey to the colony in the […]
  • Follow Our New Vertebrate Ecology Lab Field Blog!

    Vertebrate Ecology Lab Field Blog

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