Michelle Fournet

Postdoctoral Fellow


Animal Communication • Marine Ecology • Marine Bioacoustics • Marine Mammal Science

I am a marine ecologist who uses passive acoustics to understand communication behavior, and the impacts of marine resource management decisions on underwater ecosystems. I use long-term hydrophone deployments (weeks to years), coupled with behavioral observations and field studies to better understand the marine acoustic habitat, how marine animals use sound, and to investigate human impacts on marine organismal behavior. My interests straddle bioacoustics, behavioral ecology, and education.

As a Ph.D. student at Oregon State University, I investigated the acoustic ecology of North Pacific humpback whales in Glacier Bay National Park, southeast Alaska. By conducting work in these historic whale foraging grounds and in a marine protected area with predictable and managed vessel activity, I was able to investigate the impact of vessel noise on calling behavior among humpback whales, as well as investigate drivers of acoustic communication in this species.

I am now applying acoustics skills commonly used to monitor endangered marine mammals to understand calling behavior in sonic fishes in Florida Bay, Everglades National Park. Florida Bay is a large marine estuary historically impacted by hydrological management decisions. My work investigates whether sonic fishes can act as acoustic indicators of ecosystem change, and whether community structure and ecosystem health can be monitored through passive listening.


Ph.D., Wildlife Science, Oregon State University
M.S., Marine Resource Management, Oregon State University
B.F.A., Theatre Arts, Boston University College of Fine Arts

Beyond the Lab

Beyond research, I am an avid gardener and hiker. I spend my summers growing sunflowers and vegetables, and you can find me with my intrepid pup hiking daily on Ithaca trails.

Recent Publications

Epp, M. V., M. E. H. Fournet, and G. K. Davoren (2021). Humpback whale call repertoire on a northeastern Newfoundland foraging ground. Marine Mammal Science n/a.
Epp, M. V., M. E. H. Fournet, G. K. Silber, and G. K. Davoren (2021). Allopatric humpback whales of differing generations share call types between foraging and wintering grounds. Scientific Reports 11.
Fournet, M. E. H., M. Silvestri, C. W. Clark, H. Clink, and A. N. Rice (2021). Limited vocal compensation for elevated ambient noise in bearded seals: implications for an industrializing Arctic Ocean. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 288.
Matthews, L. P., M. E. H. Fournet, C. Gabriele, H. Klinck, and S. E. Parks (2020). Acoustically advertising male harbor seals in southeast Alaska do not make biologically relevant acoustic adjustments in the presence of vessel noise. Biology Letters 16.
Fournet, M. E. H., E. Stabenau, and A. N. Rice (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.
Haver, S. M., M. E. Fournet, R. P. Dziak, C. Gabriele, J. Gedamke, L. T. Hatch, J. Haxel, S. A. Heppell, M. F. Mckenna, D. K. Mellinger, and S. M. Van Parijs (2019). Comparing the underwater soundscapes of four U.S. national parks and marine sanctuaries. Frontiers in Marine Science 6:500.
Fournet, M. E. H., L. Jacobsen, C. M. Gabriele, D. K. Mellinger, and H. Klinck (2018). More of the same: Allopatric humpback whale populations share acoustic repertoire. PeerJ 6:e5365.
Fournet, M. E. H., L. P. Matthews, C. M. Gabriele, S. Haver, D. K. Mellinger, and H. Klinck (2018). Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) alter calling behavior in response to natural sounds and vessel noise. Marine Ecology Progress Series 607:251–268.
Fournet, M. E. H., C. M. Gabriele, D. C. Culp, F. Sharpe, D. K. Mellinger, and H. Klinck (2018). Some things never change: Multi-decadal stability in humpback whale calling repertoire on southeast Alaskan foraging grounds. Scientific Reports 8.
Fournet, M. E. H., L. P. Matthews, C. M. Gabriele, D. K. Mellinger, and H. Klinck (2018). Source levels of foraging humpback whale calls. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 143:EL105.
Fournet, M. E. H., C. M. Gabriele, F. Sharpe, J. M. Straley, and A. Szabo (2018). Feeding calls produced by solitary humpback whales. Marine Mammal Science. https://doi.org/10.1111/mms.12485.
Matthews, L. P., S. E. Parks, M. E. H. Fournet, C. M. Gabriele, J. N. Womble, and H. Klinck (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.
Michelle Fournet
Center K. Lisa Yang Center for Conservation Bioacoustics
Email mef264@cornell.edu

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