2011-2012 Global Change Postdoctoral Fellow
Where are they now?
Nathan is a Senior Scientist at LGL Ecological Research Associates.
Nathan’s Google Scholar website.
My research uses computational and empirical methods to bring resolution to fundamental questions in behavioral ecology and macroecology. I simulate the movement process of individual animals to determine how animal behavior interacts with environmental factors to give rise to large-scale ecological patterns. I study migration and dispersal in the marine environment and make use of techniques from the fields of sensory ecology, phylogeography, geospatial ecology, physical oceanography, and, especially, computer modeling. I frequently use sea turtles as a study system because the long-distances that turtles travel serve to magnify the role of movement on their ecology. I use empirically derived movement data (from satellite telemetry, lab-based experiments, and fisheries data) in combination with high-resolution environmental models to examine how the migrations of marine animals shape their ecology and spatial patterns of distribution. Using these techniques I have shown novel and compelling explanations for poorly understood aspects of sea turtle ecology including: (1) the factors shaping patterns of nest abundance, (2) the mechanisms that turtles use to navigate across vast expanses of sea, (3) the role of navigation behavior on the distribution of young sea turtles in the open ocean, and (4) how the mechanism by which mature turtles relocate their natal beaches influences phylogeographic patterns along nesting assemblages. Recently, I have expanded this research to use environmental models and spatial variation in fisheries catch to infer homing mechanisms in salmon.