Research Team and Institutions

Core Team

The research work is being undertaken by an internationally-leading, multi-disciplinary team of statisticians, acousticians, cetacean survey specialists and biologists, drawn from academia and the US military.  In summary, our major roles are as follows:

  • University of St. Andrews (UStA), St. Andrews, UK.  Dr. Len Thomas, PI on this proposal, is leading development of the new statistical methods and testing by simulation, in collaboration with Dr. David Borchers and a post-doctoral research assistant (PDRA), Dr. Tiago Marques.  The research group of statisticians at St. Andrews is at the forefront of development of methods for wildlife population assessment, and Thomas and Borchers are co-authors on the standard texts on distance sampling methods (Buckland et al. 2001, 2004) and the standard software, Distance (Thomas et al. 2006).  They are PI and co-I on an ONR-funded project that includes development of methods for estimating cetacean density from towed passive arrays. Dr. Marques has recently completed his PhD thesis on various extensions to distance sampling methods of relevance to this proposal.  Overall project management and coordination across all institutions will also be done from UStA, by Dr. Catriona Harris.
  • Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SSD), San Diego, CA.  Mr. Steve Martin is overseeing the first test case: estimation of humpback whale density using acoustic data collected from the fixed array at the US Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF), Hawai’i.  Martin was PI on the ONR-funded project to collect these data.
  • Oregon State University (OSU), Newport, Oregon.  Dr. David Mellinger is developing an automatic classifier for humpback whales, a vital part of the first case study.  He is also taking the lead on developing methods for estimating density from single fixed sensors.  Mellinger has been PI on a number of ONR-funded projects to develop acoustic analysis techniques, especially for automatic detection of cetacean sounds. He is the author of the most widely-used software package for marine mammal detection and localization, Ishmael. He has also worked on detection distance of odontocete whales, and has developed a preliminary model for estimating that distance using acoustic propagation models (Mellinger et al. 2003).
  • Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC), Newport, RI.  Mr. David Moretti will lead a team of engineers and acousticians, including Ms. Jessica Ward, Dr Ron. Morrissey and Ms. Nancy DiMarzio who will perform a variety of roles.  They are useing the classifier developed by Mellinger to extract humpback whale data from the PMRF recordings. They are also leveraging previous work (the Marine Mammal Monitoring on Navy Ranges (M3R) program, funded by ONR) to extract data required for the second and third test cases: estimation of density of sperm and beaked whales respectively from the dense array system at the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC) in the Bahamas.  These data are also forming an input to the single sensor work of Mellinger.  The NUWC group has been at the forefront of developing and deploying fixed passive array systems on Navy testing ranges, and also in developing systems to monitor marine mammals from these arrays.
  • Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), Woods Hole, MA.  Dr. Peter Tyack is, in collaboration with others at WHOI (including Dr. Mark Johnson and Ms. Amanda Hansen) providing estimates of inter-click intervals and movement data for sperm whales and beaked whale species, required to convert estimates of click density to estimates of animal density.  The WHOI team have the best access to this information from their work developing and placing dive tags (DTAGs) on whales, funded by SERDP and NSF.

Program Steering Group

In addition to the core team of investigators, there is a program steering group of three acknowledged experts in the above fields: Dr. Walter Zimmer (NATO Undersea Research Centre), Dr. Jay Barlow (Southwest Fisheries Science Center, NOAA) and Prof. Stephen Buckland (University of St Andrews). Their role is to provide annual feedback on progress and advice on future directions.

Other External Input

We plan to hold one or more open research workshops during the course of the project, in advance of our project meetings, at which other interested researchers will be able to contribute their experience and perspectives on the problem.