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Graduate Students

Current Graduate Students

Jessica Flight (jessieflight[at], M.Sc. student (co-supervised by Garry Stenson, Department of Fisheries and Oceans), 2010-

"Determination of the diets of grey and harp seals in Newfoundland waters using hard-part and molecular analyses"

Grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) numbers may be increasing in Newfoundland, which raises concerns among some fishers because of the possible impact on fisheries resources. Little is known of grey seal diet here, unlike other parts of the Western Atlantic. Diets can be determined using various techniques, each of which has its own biases. This study's purpose is to determine grey seal diet in Newfoundland and compare findings with harp seals (Pagophilus groenlandicus). Objectives are: (1) Using hard parts, compare numbers and size of prey items in different parts of the digestive tract; (2) develop a species-specific multiplex PCR method to identify multiple prey items simultaneously; and (3) determine if hard-part analysis coupled with multiplex PCR is superior to either method alone for characterizing diet.


Doug Hynes (d.hynes[at], M.Sc. student, 2010-

"Systematic status of the Newfoundland Red Crossbill: a bioacoustic perspective"

The Newfoundland Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra percna) is currently listed as endangered under the Species at Risk Act of Canada and the Endangered Species Act of Newfoundland and Labrador, because of population decline and decline in preferred feeding habitat (mature coniferous forest). However, the systematic status of the Newfoundland Red Crossbill has been investigated only through museum specimens. Vocalizations are a valuable systematic tool in ornithology and are known to differ substantially among cryptic species of Red Crossbill. The purpose of this project is to describe vocalizations of the Newfoundland Red Crossbill and to determine whether these differ from Red Crossbill calls elsewhere in North America and in Europe. The results will be used to assess the systematic status of the Newfoundland Red Crossbill.


Chelsey Lawrence (z63ctl[at], M.Sc. student (co-supervised by Dave Cote, Parks Canada), 2012-

"Anthropogenic influences on distribution, activity, and movements of marine-coastal northern river otters in Newfoundland"

The northern river otter (Lontra canadensis) is an abundant species in much of Newfoundland's marine coastal environment. Presumably the species' population size and distribution are affected by trapping, and also may be influenced by cabin development and logging. The purpose of this project is to assess relationships of these anthropogenic activities to distribution, activity, and movements. Data will be gathered on density and use of terrestrial coastline latrine sites of otters in and near Terra Nova National Park, Newfoundland, in areas with and without cabins and logging activity. Activity and movements will be documented and quantified with motion-sensitive cameras. Chelsey began her field work in May 2012.

Chelsea Lawrence & Dave Cote in TNNP


Stephanie Leger (sleger107[at], M.Sc. student, 2012-

"Acoustic communication in shorebirds" (specific topic to be determined)

Steph will start her program in September 2012.