Michelle Fournet, Ph.D.
My research interests are in animal communication, the impact of anthropogenic noise on animal behavior, and how interspecies interactions manifest acoustically. I work primarily in the marine realm, but I am generally interested in using acoustics to investigate questions of applied ecological significance and to disseminate science to the greater public.
For my graduate work I investigated humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) acoustic ecology and the impact of vessel noise on humpback whale calling behavior in Southeast Alaska. This included classifying the humpback whale acoustic repertoire on North Pacific foraging grounds, quantifying and describing the role of non-song vocalizations within the humpback whale acoustic repertoire, quantifying the contribution of biotic and abiotic noise to the marine soundscape, measuring humpback call source levels (loudness), and assessing shifts in vocal behavior as a response to vessel noise.
As a postdoctoral researcher at BRP I am using acoustics to understand community dynamics in Florida Bay, Everglades National Park, with an emphasis on sonic fishes. We hope to expand the breadth and depth of our knowledge of ecosystem dynamics in Florida Bay by applying well established passive acoustic monitoring techniques to acoustically active species like sub-tropical fishes. In this way we can non-invasively increase the spatial and temporal resolution of our observations, not unlike that which is done for marine mammals.
Former projects include humpback whale and killer whale photo-identification and citizen-science program development in Juneau, Alaska, the coordination and development of a marine mammal observation effort in Oregon’s near-shore ocean, and the analysis long-term acoustic data sets from Alaska’s Beaufort Sea, where I investigated seasonal presence of bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) and arctic seals. Teaching and mentoring credits include undergraduate internship development and university teaching at Oregon State University, internship development and mentoring from the Five Finger Lighthouse in Frederick Sound, Alaska, and field mentorship programs at Glacier Bay National Park.