Population Biology & Behavioral Ecology

Project Team

Project Lead - Greg O’Corry-Crowe, Ph.D.

Associate Research Professor

Greg’s research program focuses on combining molecular genetic analysis with field ecology to study the molecular and behavioral ecology of marine apex predators. Both longitudinal (time) and latitudinal (space) studies on marine mammals and birds in polar, temperate and tropical ecosystems are pursued. He is particularly interested in investigating the effects of ecosystem and climate change on upper trophic levels and on top-down/bottom-up forcing. Greg completed his studies (B.Sc., Ph.D.) at University College Dublin, Ireland, where he focused on terrestrial mammals (ungulates and carnivores) before embarking on a career in marine science. He ran a research group at NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, California, for 14 years studying the molecular and behavioral ecology of Steller sea lions, beluga whales, harbor seals and four species of Arctic ice seal. His research interests extend beyond the marine realm to the evolution of social behavior and mating systems in mammals, the role of individual fitness in population viability and adaptation, and the application of ancient DNA (aDNA) technology to ecosystem and evolutionary questions. Prior to joining Florida Atlantic University, Greg was adjunct professor at San Diego State University. He has an active graduate student program.

Sarah Bechdel Rodgers

Research Biologist

Sarah’s research centers around the resident bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) population within the Indian River Lagoon (IRL), Florida. Since 2005, she has worked as part of a research team studying IRL dolphins using photo-identification and genetic methods. Currently, her Masters work is coupling genetics (skin samples collected through biopsy and stranding events) with observational data to estimate origin, site fidelity and kinship of the dolphins within the IRL as well as to adjacent estuarine dolphin populations. Her research will help to clarify the historical demography of the IRL dolphin population to be used as a tool in future management and conservation efforts.

Tatiana Ferrer

Graduate Assistant

Tatiana is a graduate student working for Dr. O’Corry-Crowe. She is currently looking at how the variability in the Major Histocompatibility Complex affects Cetaceans, particularly Delphinapterus leucas and Tursiops truncatus.


Dr. Heidi Pagan

Postdoctoral Fellow, Genomics

Heidi is a post-doc in the lab and completed her dissertation from Mississippi State University on transposable element activity in bats and lemurs. Her primary interest is the effect of external stressors on the generation and maintenance of genetic diversity. The lab is currently developing markers for marine mammals to assess how differential success between populations might be linked to levels of genetic variation. For instance, high levels of variability in MHC genes have been suggested to portray a population that can withstand an assortment of diseases and pathogens.

Last Modified 4/6/15