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Creators/Authors contains: "Beltran, Roxanne S."

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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2024
  2. Although the concept of connectivity is ubiquitous in ecology and evolution, its definition is often inconsistent, particularly in interdisciplinary research. In an ecological context, population connectivity refers to the movement of individuals or species across a landscape. It is measured by locating organisms and tracking their occurrence across space and time. In an evolutionary context, connectivity is typically used to describe levels of current and past gene flow, calculated from the degree of genetic similarity between populations. Both connectivity definitions are useful in their specific contexts, but rarely are these two perspectives combined. Different definitions of connectivity could result in misunderstandings across subdisciplines. Here, we unite ecological and evolutionary perspectives into a single unifying framework by advocating for connectivity to be conceptualized as a generational continuum. Within this framework, connectivity can be subdivided into three timescales: (1) within a generation (e.g., movement), (2) across one parent-offspring generation (e.g., dispersal), and (3) across two or more generations (e.g., gene flow), with each timescale determining the relevant context and dictating whether the connectivity has ecological or evolutionary consequences. Applying our framework to real-world connectivity questions can help to identify sampling limitations associated with a particular methodology, further develop research questions and hypotheses, and investigate eco-evolutionary feedback interactions that span the connectivity continuum. We hope this framework will serve as a foundation for conducting and communicating research across subdisciplines, resulting in a more holistic understanding of connectivity in natural systems. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 24, 2024
  3. Elephant seals sleep 2 hours a day while diving for months at sea, rivaling the record for the least sleep among mammals. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 21, 2024
  4. What new questions could ecophysiologists answer if physio-logging research was fully reproducible? We argue that technical debt (computational hurdles resulting from prioritizing short-term goals over long-term sustainability) stemming from insufficient cyberinfrastructure (field-wide tools, standards, and norms for analyzing and sharing data) trapped physio-logging in a scientific silo. This debt stifles comparative biological analyses and impedes interdisciplinary research. Although physio-loggers (e.g., heart rate monitors and accelerometers) opened new avenues of research, the explosion of complex datasets exceeded ecophysiology’s informatics capacity. Like many other scientific fields facing a deluge of complex data, ecophysiologists now struggle to share their data and tools. Adapting to this new era requires a change in mindset, from “data as a noun” (e.g., traits, counts) to “data as a sentence”, where measurements (nouns) are associate with transformations (verbs), parameters (adverbs), and metadata (adjectives). Computational reproducibility provides a framework for capturing the entire sentence. Though usually framed in terms of scientific integrity, reproducibility offers immediate benefits by promoting collaboration between individuals, groups, and entire fields. Rather than a tax on our productivity that benefits some nebulous greater good, reproducibility can accelerate the pace of discovery by removing obstacles and inviting a greater diversity of perspectives to advance science and society. In this article, we 1) describe the computational challenges facing physio-logging scientists and connect them to the concepts of technical debt and cyberinfrastructure , 2) demonstrate how other scientific fields overcame similar challenges by embracing computational reproducibility, and 3) present a framework to promote computational reproducibility in physio-logging, and bio-logging more generally. 
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  5. null (Ed.)
    Assessing the non-lethal effects of disturbance from human activities is necessary for wildlife conservation and management. However, linking short-term responses to long-term impacts on individuals and populations is a significant hurdle for evaluating the risks of a proposed activity. The Population Consequences of Disturbance (PCoD) framework conceptually describes how disturbance can lead to changes in population dynamics, and its real-world application has led to a suite of quantitative models that can inform risk assessments. Here, we review PCoD models that forecast the possible consequences of a range of disturbance scenarios for marine mammals. In so doing, we identify common themes and highlight general principles to consider when assessing risk. We find that, when considered holistically, these models provide valuable insights into which contextual factors influence a population's degree of exposure and sensitivity to disturbance. We also discuss model assumptions and limitations, identify data gaps and suggest future research directions to enable PCoD models to better inform risk assessments and conservation and management decisions. The general principles explored can help wildlife managers and practitioners identify and prioritize the populations most vulnerable to disturbance and guide industry in planning activities that avoid or mitigate population-level effects. 
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  6. Abstract

    Despite rapid advances in sensor development and technological miniaturization, it remains challenging to non-invasively record small-amplitude electrophysiological signals from an animal in its natural environment. Many advances in ecophysiology and biologging have arisen through sleep studies, which rely on detecting small signals over multiple days and minimal disruption of natural animal behavior. This paper describes the development of a surface-mounted system that has allowed novel electrophysiological recordings of sleep in wild marine mammals. We discuss our iterative design process by providing sensor-comparison data, detailed technical illustrations, and material recommendations. We describe the system’s performance over multiple days in 12 freely moving northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) sleeping on land and in water in captivity and the wild. We leverage advances in signal processing by applying independent components analysis and inertial motion sensor calibrations to maximize signal quality across large (> 10 gigabyte), multi-day datasets. Our study adds to the suite of biologging tools available to scientists seeking to understand the physiology and behavior of wild animals in the context in which they evolved.

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  7. null (Ed.)
  8. In this paper, we introduce a creative pipeline to incorporate physiological and behavioral data from contemporary marine mammal research into data-driven animations, leveraging functionality from industry tools and custom scripts to promote scientific insights, public awareness, and conservation outcomes. Our framework can flexibly transform data describing animals’ orientation, position, heart rate, and swimming stroke rate to control the position, rotation, and behavior of 3D models, to render animations, and to drive data sonification. Additionally, we explore the challenges of unifying disparate datasets gathered by an interdisciplinary team of researchers, and outline our design process for creating meaningful data visualization tools and animations. As part of our pipeline, we clean and process raw acceleration and electrophysiological signals to expedite complex multi-stream data analysis and the identification of critical foraging and escape behaviors. We provide details about four animation projects illustrating marine mammal datasets. These animations, commissioned by scientists to achieve outreach and conservation outcomes, have successfully increased the reach and engagement of the scientific projects they describe. These impactful visualizations help scientists identify behavioral responses to disturbance, increase public awareness of human-caused disturbance, and help build momentum for targeted conservation efforts backed by scientific evidence. 
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  9. Abstract

    The COVID‐19 pandemic has disrupted many standard approaches to STEM education. Particularly impacted were field courses, which rely on specific natural spaces often accessed through shared vehicles. As in‐person field courses have been found to be particularly impactful for undergraduate student success in the sciences, we aimed to compare and understand what factors may have been lost or gained during the conversion of an introductory field course to an online format. Using a mixed methods approach comparing data from online and in‐person field‐course offerings, we found that while community building was lost in the online format, online participants reported increased self‐efficacy in research and observation skills and connection to their local space. The online field course additionally provided positive mental health breaks for students who described the time outside as a much‐needed respite. We maintain that through intentional design, online field courses can provide participants with similar outcomes to in‐person field courses.

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