As a physiological and behavioral ecologist, I investigate adaptations that allow animals to survive in extreme environments. Marine mammals and birds provide an ideal study system to investigate how animals deal with extreme conditions because of their large size variation, geographic distribution and physiological challenges they face on a daily basis including hypoxia, extreme temperatures, and fasting. Understanding the mechanisms that allow an organism to interact and survive in its environment is crucial for predicting, and potentially mitigating, their response to climate change. My research program focuses on two broad areas of research: 1) determining the diving capacity of breath-hold divers and understanding the underlying mechanisms, and 2) determining the energetic requirements of foraging and reproduction to better understand energy allocation, physiological trade-offs, and the organism’s role in the ecosystem.

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Birgitte I. McDonald

Moss Landing Marine Laboratories
8272 Moss Landing Rd. 
Moss Landing, CA  95039

gmcdonald@mlml.calstate.edu