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Sea-Otter Expert Joins USGS Staff


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Tim Tinker
Above: Labwork without the lab: Tim Tinker pipettes a blood sample taken from a Russian sea otter while trying to stay warm in a tiny cabin on the shores of the Bering Sea in winter. Tinker is one of the principal investigators in a cooperative U.S.-Russian effort to study the thriving sea-otter population in this remote corner of the world, in the hopes of gathering clues about the collapse of neighboring sea-otter populations in Alaska's Aleutian Islands. [larger version]

Tim Tinker has joined the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Western Ecological Research Center (WERC) as its newest research ecologist. Tinker will lead the center's sea-otter-research program, previously directed by Jim Estes, who recently retired from the USGS. Formerly a research biologist with the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), Tinker has been studying sea-otter populations for 15 years in Alaska, California, and, most recently, the Russian Commander Islands. Working with Estes, Tinker played a key role in learning about the causes and effects of the sea-otter population decline in the Aleutian archipelago through the 1990s, and continues to study these threatened populations. More recently, he has also focused on the foraging ecology and demography of the threatened southern sea otter, investigating how the dynamics of individual animal behavior, food-web interactions, and anthropogenic influences act together to regulate sea-otter populations in central California (for example, see “Sea-Otter Study Reveals Striking Variability in Diets and Feeding Strategies,” this issue).

Tinker earned his Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology at UCSC in 2004. He also holds an M.S. in biology from the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada (1993), and a B.Sc. in zoology from the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada (1989). Tinker’s specialties include quantitative conservation ecology, with a particular emphasis on modeling population dynamics. He is also interested in individual behavioral strategies, particularly foraging specializations, and seeks to understand how variation in the fitness of individual strategies scales upward to population- and community-level dynamics.

The USGS WERC sea-otter program is headquartered at the Santa Cruz Field Station, whose offices are on the UCSC campus, with a satellite office, Piedras Blancas, in San Luis Obispo County.

Tinker delivered the USGS evening public lecture in Menlo Park, California, on September 27, 2007: "A Tale of Two Kelp Forests: Sea Otters and Ecosystem Dynamics in the Aleutians and the Commander Islands." A short article about the lecture, "Upcoming! "A Tale of Two Kelp Forests"—USGS Will Observe Sea Otter Awareness Week with a Public Lecture on September 27 in Menlo Park, California," was published in Sound Waves and the lecture can be viewed online through a link posted at URL http://online.wr.usgs.gov/calendar/2007.html.


Related Sound Waves Stories
Upcoming! "A Tale of Two Kelp Forests"— USGS Will Observe Sea Otter Awareness Week with a Public Lecture on September 27 in Menlo Park, California
September 2007

Related Web Sites
Santa Cruz Field Station
USGS (U.S. Geological Survey)
"A Tale of Two Kelp Forests" Lecture
USGS (U.S. Geological Survey)

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Fieldwork
cover story:
Water Quality in the Salish Sea

Research Striking Variability in Sea-Otter Diets and Feeding Strategies

Meetings U.S. Coastal Water-Quality Workshop

Trans-Atlantic Coral Ecosystem Study

Awards Alaska Bird Conservation Awards

Staff Sea-Otter Expert Joins USGS Staff

New Mendenhall Postdoctoral Research Fellows

Publications May Publications List


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