Marine Mammal Commission

2019 Grant Awards

Grant Awards by Fiscal Year: 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011
Previous Years

Projects Funded by the Marine Mammal Commission in Fiscal Year 2019

Topic A: Research/Projects - Focal Area: Impacts of a changing ocean on marine mammals of importance to Alaska Natives

Integration of Local or Traditional Knowledge and western science using a Bayesian approach for fully informed models

Auger-Méthé, M.

The University of British Columbia

As climate changes, access to species with significant cultural and subsistence value for Indigenous people in the Arctic is changing, resulting in negative effects on overall community health. Wildlife management decision are increasingly being made with climate change in mind and are often required to consider Local and Traditional Knowledge (LTK) in the decision process.  This study aims to develop an analytical framework via Bayesian statistics that integrates LTK and western science information on wildlife habitat and behavior. LTK interview data will be merged with satellite telemetry data collected from seals in Alaskan waters. The project objectives are to: (1) document LTK about ringed, bearded, and spotted seals from knowledge holders in Kotzebue, AK and Point Hope, AK; (2) analyze the LTK to convert it into a form that can be incorporated into a Bayesian statistical framework; and (3) assess the methodology via feedback from LTK holders. This approach will provide communities with information on species that hold cultural and subsistence importance using an approach that formally includes LTK.

Topic A: Research/Projects

Collection of auditory evoked potential hearing thresholds in minke whales

Houser, D.

National Marine Mammal Foundation

Auditory capabilities of mysticetes are poorly understood. This project aims to collect auditory evoked potential (AEP) hearing thresholds for a mysticete, the minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata). The minke whale AEP hearing thresholds will provide the first direct measurement of hearing in a mysticete and will contribute to the development of a mysticete audiogram. This multi-year project is jointly funded by the Chief of Naval Operations Energy and Environment Readiness Division, Office of Naval Research, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Marine Mammal Commission.

Topic B: Conferences, Symposia, Workshops, Meetings, and Publications – Focal Area: Impacts of a changing ocean on marine mammals of importance to Alaska Natives

Life without ice: perceptions of environmental impacts on marine mammals and subsistence users of St. Lawrence Island

Larsen, J.

University of Alaska Fairbanks

The Bering Sea, which provides habitat for approximately 30 marine mammal species, is undergoing rapid environmental change. Changes in the timing and abundance of subsistence hunts and harvests have been recorded, as well as shifting distributions of fish and marine mammal stocks; however, research is lacking on how stakeholders are affected by these changes.  This project will conduct interviews with marine mammal subsistence users on St. Lawrence Island, Alaska with the goal of capturing the perceptions of experts as well as community residents on how environmental change is impacting marine mammal subsistence harvests. The research component of this project is focused on 5 research questions as they relate to marine mammals: 1) what marine mammal subsistence resources are depended upon most in these communities? 2) In what ways have these species changed? 3) How are households responding to changes? 4) What does the future of subsistence look like to users? 5) What are the attitudes toward anthropogenic activities in the region as it relates to food security and community livelihoods?  In addition to researching perceptions, the investigators will engage in community outreach efforts focused on the community’s concerns about the preservation of St. Lawrence Island culture and language. Student led projects will be developed to focus on documenting marine mammal subsistence culture through storytelling and art, and results incorporated into a Yupik curriculum during the 2019-2020 school year.