Michelle Fournet, Ph.D.

Michelle Fournet, Ph.D. Candidate
Michelle Fournet, Postdoctoral Fellow

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 the Cornell Lab’s  K. Lisa Yang Center for Conservation Bioacoustics (CCB), 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.

Year Hired: 2018

Contact information
Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Room #166
159 Sapsucker Woods Road, Ithaca, NY, USA
Phone: +1.907.723.2752
Email: michelle.fournet@cornell.edu

Ph.D., Wildlife Science, Oregon State University, 2018
M.S. Marine Resource Management, College of Earth Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, 2014
B.F.A – Theatre Arts, Boston University, 2006

Other: https://MichelleFournet.wordpress.com/

Recent Publications

Fournet, M.EH. et al. (2022) ‘Altered acoustic community structure indicates delayed recovery following ecosystem perturbations’, Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 274, p. 107948. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecss.2022.107948.
Fournet, M.E.H. et al. (2021) ‘Limited vocal compensation for elevated ambient noise in bearded seals: implications for an industrializing Arctic Ocean’, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 288(1945). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2020.2712.
Epp, M.V. et al. (2021) ‘Allopatric humpback whales of differing generations share call types between foraging and wintering grounds’, Scientific Reports, 11(16297).
Epp, M.V., Fournet, M.E.H. and Davoren, G.K. (2021) ‘Humpback whale call repertoire on a northeastern Newfoundland foraging ground’, Marine Mammal Science, n/a(n/a). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/mms.12859.
Matthews, L.P. et al. (2017) ‘Source levels and call parameters of harbor seal breeding vocalizations near a terrestrial haulout site in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve’, Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 141(EL274). Available at: https://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.4978299.
Matthews, L.P. et al. (2020) ‘Acoustically advertising male harbour seals in southeast Alaska do not make biologically relevant acoustic adjustments in the presence of vessel noise’, Biology Letters, 16(4). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2019.0795.
Horn, K.M. et al. (2021) ‘Effects of Intertidal Position on Metabolism and Behavior in the Acorn Barnacle, Balanus glandula’, Integrative Organismal Biology, 3(1). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1093/iob/obab010.
Haver, S.M. et al. (2019) ‘Comparing the Underwater Soundscapes of Four US National Parks and Marine Sanctuaries’, Frontiers in Marine Science, 6(500). Available at: https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2019.00500.
Fournet, M.H., Szabo, A.S. and Mellinger, D.K. (2015) ‘Repertoire and classification of non-song calls in Southeast Alaskan humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae).’, Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 137, pp. 1–11.
Fournet, M.E.H., Stabenau, E. and Rice, A.N. (2019) ‘Relationship between salinity and sonic fish advertisement behavior in a managed sub-tropical estuary: Making the case for an acoustic indicator species’, Ecological Indicators, 106. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolind.2019.105531.
Fournet, M.E.H. et al. (2018) ‘Source levels of foraging humpback whale calls’, Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 143(2), p. EL105.
Fournet, M.E.H. et al. (2018) ‘Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) alter calling behavior in response to natural sounds and vessel noise’, Marine Ecology Progress Series, 607, pp. 251–268. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12784.
Fournet, M.E.H. et al. (2018) ‘More of the same: allopatric humpback whale populations share acoustic repertoire’, PeerJ, 6:e5365. Available at: https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.5365.
Fournet, M.E.H. et al. (2018) ‘Feeding calls produced by solitary humpback whales’, Marine Mammal Science [Preprint]. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/mms.12485.
Fournet, M.E.H. et al. (2018) ‘Some things never change: multi-decadal stability in humpback whale calling repertoire on Southeast Alaskan foraging grounds’, Scientific Reports, 8(1). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-31527-x.