Conservation Science, Policy & Engagement-The Parsons Lab

Conservation Science, Policy & Engagement-The Parsons Lab The conservation research and activities of Dr Chris Parsons and his students Recent Graduate Student Research Projects:

MS Students
• McConchie, T. 2007.

Computer assisted analysis of individual bottlenose dolphin fins off Wallops Island, Virginia. Masters thesis. George Mason University, Virginia. (joint director with D. Kelso)
• McDuff, H. 2008. How sea turtle populations are impacted by shrimp trawls along the United States east coast and the Gulf of Mexico. Masters project. George Mason University, Virginia.
• Tadur, S. 2008. The use of patent variables in biotech firm valuation-the case of misspecified models. George Mason University, Virginia.
• O’Bryhim, J. 2009. Public knowledge, attitudes and behavior to sharks and shark conservation. George Mason University, Virginia.
• Wong, D.L. 2009. Public perception of mammals and mammal conservation in Fairfax County. George Mason University, Virginia.
• Willis, T. 2009. Decentralized wind energy generation: advantages and challenges. George Mason University, Virginia.
• Fazio, J. 2010. A behavioral assessment of the clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa); a comparative analysis of reproductive success. George Mason University, Virginia.
• Griffith, D. 2010. Waste reduction as a method to reach conservation goals; a comparative analysis of plastic waste management. George Mason University, Virginia.
• Patterson, K. 2010. Conservation, captivity, and whaling: a survey of Belize whale-watching tourist attitudes to cetacean conservation issues. George Mason University, Virginia.
• Sitar-Gonzales, A. 2011. A survey of student opinions of green commercials. Master’s thesis. George Mason University, Virginia.
• Galgano, M.R. 2011. A review of Brucella — focusing on marine mammals and the associated zoonotic health risk. Master’s project. George Mason University, Virginia.
• Tracy, S. 2012. Understanding conservation: a study of student attitudes and understanding of the effects of human activities on global ecosystems. George Mason University, Virginia.
• Hendren, A. 2012. The public perception of marine invertebrates in the Washington, D.C. Area. George Mason University, Virginia.
• Sharma, A. 2012. Marine plastic pollution. George Mason University, Virginia.
• Redman, M. 2013. Keeping green schoolyards green: a study of challenges and success strategies for the long-term sustainability of schoolyard habitats. George Mason University, Virginia.
• Ozbenian, S. 2013. Survey of attitudes toward, conflicts with and management of wolves and bears in rural villages in Armenia. George Mason University, Virginia.
• Roland, A. 2013. Population size and viability of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) off the coast of the Parque Nacional De Este, Dominican Republic. George Mason University, Virginia.
• Abrahams, H. 2014. Mitochondrial control region diversity and phylogeographic patterns of the Atlantic white-sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchus acutus) along the East Coast of the United States. PhD Students
• Ambler, J.B. 2011. Whales and the people who watch them: baleen whales in Virginia’s near-shore waters and the educational and conservation potential of whale watching. Doctoral thesis. George Mason University, Virginia.
• Crerar, L. 2012. Genetics of the Steller’s sea cow (Hydrodamalis gigas): a study of ancient bone material. George Mason University, Virginia.
• Luksenburg, J. 2012. The cetaceans of Aruba: a multidisciplinary study. George Mason University, Virginia.
• Shafer, C.L. 2013. Grizzly emigration and land use: an interdisciplinary case study of the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. George Mason University, Virginia.
• Thornhill, J.L., 2014. Bridging the gap between research and decision-making: empirical evidence from a case study of gray wolf (Canis lupus) management in the US.

Operating as usual

More than half of US waters are unmappedUS waters, either in the US exclusive economic zone or the Great lakes, cover ap...
03/17/2021

More than half of US waters are unmapped

US waters, either in the US exclusive economic zone or the Great lakes, cover approximately 3.6 million square nautical miles. As of January 2021, only 47% of US waters have been mapped (at 100 meter resolution).

Between October 2017 and October 2018, the unmapped portion of U.S. waters went from 59% to 57%. In January 2020, the unmapped portion went down from 57% to 54%.
The US Government has a goal of mapping all US waters by 2030, but at the current rate of surveying, we will not have all of the US waters mapped until 2041… at best.

In order to reach the 2030 goal we need to map an area equal to the total land area of the states of Montana and North Dakota combined (555,673 square kilometers).

For more details see: https://iocm.noaa.gov/seabed-2030-status.html

Progress Reports of unmapped U.S. Waters:
https://iocm.noaa.gov/seabed-2030/mapping-progress-report2021.pdf - January 2021
https://iocm.noaa.gov/seabed-2030/mapping-progress-report2020.pdf - March, 2020

More than half of US waters are unmappedUS waters, either in the US exclusive economic zone or the Great lakes, cover ap...
03/17/2021

More than half of US waters are unmapped

US waters, either in the US exclusive economic zone or the Great lakes, cover approximately 3.6 million square nautical miles. As of January 2021, only 47% of US waters have been mapped (at 100 meter resolution).

Between October 2017 and October 2018, the unmapped portion of U.S. waters went from 59% to 57%. In January 2020, the unmapped portion went down from 57% to 54%.
The US Government has a goal of mapping all US waters by 2030, but at the current rate of surveying, we will not have all of the US waters mapped until 2041… at best.

In order to reach the 2030 goal we need to map an area equal to the total land area of the states of Montana and North Dakota combined (555,673 square kilometers).

For more details see: https://iocm.noaa.gov/seabed-2030-status.html

Progress Reports of unmapped U.S. Waters:
https://iocm.noaa.gov/seabed-2030/mapping-progress-report2021.pdf - January 2021
https://iocm.noaa.gov/seabed-2030/mapping-progress-report2020.pdf - March, 2020

The latest episode of the Marine Mammal Science podcast:  Conservation Of Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphi‪nThis week’s epis...
03/14/2021
‎Marine Mammal Science: The Conservation Of Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin on Apple Podcasts

The latest episode of the Marine Mammal Science podcast: Conservation Of Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphi‪n

This week’s episode is is the 2nd of 3 episodes with Dr Thomas Jefferson. In this episode Ashley and Tom talk about Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins and the importance of some ground-breaking research on this species.

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-conservation-of-indo-pacific-humpback-dolphin/id1475692072?i=1000512781998

‎Show Marine Mammal Science, Ep The Conservation Of Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin - Mar 12, 2021

The latest episode of the Marine Conservation Happy Hour podcast: marine protected areas for Minke WhalesThe MCHH Crew T...
03/14/2021
‎Marine Conservation Happy Hour: Marine Protected Areas For Minke Whales on Apple Podcasts

The latest episode of the Marine Conservation Happy Hour podcast: marine protected areas for Minke Whales

The MCHH Crew Talk about Marine Protected Areas for Minke Whales with Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust's Science Director Dr. Lauren Hartny-Mills.

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/marine-protected-areas-for-minke-whales/id1358697135?i=1000512497274

‎Show Marine Conservation Happy Hour, Ep Marine Protected Areas For Minke Whales - Mar 10, 2021

Office of Polar Programs - National Science Foundation
03/05/2021

Office of Polar Programs - National Science Foundation

Celebrating World Wildlife Day 🌏🐧🐋

#Antarctica and the #Arctic have some of the most amazing animals in the world.

"Let us remind ourselves of our duty to preserve and sustainably use the vast variety of life on the planet. Let us push for a more caring, thoughtful and sustainable relationship with nature."

~ António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations

The latest Marine Conservation Happy Hour podcast:  Marine Protected Areas, Marine Mammals, And The Human Dimension‬The ...
02/27/2021
‎Marine Conservation Happy Hour: Marine Protected Areas, Marine Mammals, And The Human Dimension on Apple Podcasts

The latest Marine Conservation Happy Hour podcast: Marine Protected Areas, Marine Mammals, And The Human Dimension‬

The MCHH Crew continue their marine mammal protected area discussion with Mike Tetley.

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/marine-protected-areas-marine-mammals-human-dimension/id1358697135?i=1000510564912

‎Show Marine Conservation Happy Hour, Ep Marine Protected Areas, Marine Mammals, And The Human Dimension - Feb 24, 2021

The Marine Conservation Happy Hour podcast: Important Marine Mammal Areas & Marine Protected Areas In Scotlan‪d‬The MCHH...
02/27/2021
‎Marine Conservation Happy Hour: Marine Protected Areas In Scotland on Apple Podcasts

The Marine Conservation Happy Hour podcast: Important Marine Mammal Areas & Marine Protected Areas In Scotlan‪d‬

The MCHH Crew is joined by Mike Tetley to discuss IMMAs (Important Marine Mammal Areas) and MPAs (Marine Protected Areas)

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/marine-protected-areas-in-scotland/id1358697135?i=1000510273684

‎Show Marine Conservation Happy Hour, Ep Marine Protected Areas In Scotland - Feb 22, 2021

The sea ice - a closed window for the oceanThe oceans play an important role in the carbon cycle, with carbon dioxide fr...
02/22/2021

The sea ice - a closed window for the ocean

The oceans play an important role in the carbon cycle, with carbon dioxide from the atmosphere dissolving in surface waters, which algae then use as a nutrient for growth - producing oxygen as a by-product. When this algae dies, it sinks to the bottom of the ocean taking the carbon with it. Then microbes break down this sinking algae, using up oxygen and releasing inorganic carbon as they do so. This process is referred to as the “biological pump”. Carbon is also moved from the surface to the deep ocean via the “solubility pump”. In this process carbon dioxide and oxygen dissolves in the surface waters entering the polar regions, and as this surface water becomes colder it gets denser and heavier, and sinks, taking carbon and oxygen with it.

Understanding how these processes work is important to understand, and predict, the uptake of carbon by the oceans and the effects of climate change.

The oceans are warming, and warmer water is less able to hold dissolved oxygen – therefore, the oceans are losing oxygen at the moment because of climate change. Because of this, it was expected that during the last ice age there would be higher oxygen concentrations in ocean waters, because the colder water would be able to hold more oxygen. However, based on data from seabed sediment samples, deep ocean waters seemed to have lower levels of oxygen than expected. So why was there this disparity? Was it because the “biological pump” was causing oxygen to be used up as microbes decomposed materials in the deep ocean?
A team of international scientists produced computer models of the last ice age and found that, in fact, sea ice covering the ocean was the culprit.

If you are in a car with the windows up, it can get very stuffy, but winding the windows down helps the air to circulate. The scientists found that in the ice age layers of sea ice acted like a car window, reducing the uptake of oxygen from the atmosphere to surface waters, and reducing the ability of the “solubility pump” to bring oxygen to the deep-sea environment. “The sea ice is effectively like a closed window for the ocean,” said Andreas Schmittner, an NSF-funded climate scientist who was a co-author on the paper. The conclusions of this study will help scientists to better understand the circulation of oxygen and carbon in the oceans and improve climate change predictions.

Paper: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-020-00667-z

The latest Dancing In Pink Hiking Boots podcast - Jobless Scientists/Conservationist‪s‬ . We should be properly paid lik...
02/20/2021
‎The Guide to Mindful Conservation: Dancing in Pink Hiking Boots: Jobless Scientists/Conservationists on Apple Podcasts

The latest Dancing In Pink Hiking Boots podcast - Jobless Scientists/Conservationist‪s‬ .

We should be properly paid like anyone else.

Dr. Scarlett Smash tells listeners that now is the time to stop allowing our science and conservation community being exploited. We need to be open about our income, and stop all the unpaid full-time science position out there from being advertised. Scientists and conservationists should be properly paid for their expertise and experience

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/guide-to-mindful-conservation-dancing-in-pink-hiking/id1508210603?i=1000509735420

‎Show The Guide to Mindful Conservation: Dancing in Pink Hiking Boots, Ep Jobless Scientists/Conservationists - Feb 18, 2021

Whales & shipping trafficDr. Ashley Scarlett talks to Dr. Luis Bedrinana-Romano about his team's new paper on priority a...
02/19/2021
‎Marine Mammal Science: Whales and shipping traffic on Apple Podcasts

Whales & shipping traffic

Dr. Ashley Scarlett talks to Dr. Luis Bedrinana-Romano about his team's new paper on priority areas for blue whale conservation and the overlap with vessel traffic. They also talk about how their paper went viral on social media thanks to an informative animation they used.

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/whales-and-shipping-traffic/id1475692072?i=1000508889120

‎Show Marine Mammal Science, Ep Whales and shipping traffic - Feb 12, 2021

02/18/2021
National Science Foundation (NSF)

National Science Foundation (NSF)

Ahoy, take a tour of NSF's new class of research vessels!

NSF is funding the construction of three new regional class research vessels — including the R/V Gilbert R. Mason. The R/V Mason is named after the civil rights activist who advocated for desegregating access to our nation's beaches and the coast: https://bit.ly/2LuKXQP.

The ship's motto, aequa mari, meaning "equal access to the sea," is intended to honor Dr. Mason's work and legacy. Only three dedicated research vessels are named after people of color — R/V Gilbert R. Mason is the first #NSFfunded vessel. #BlackHistoryMonth

Skyfall: ocean scientists study the importance of trace element nutrients "fallen from the sky"Storms and strong winds c...
02/17/2021

Skyfall: ocean scientists study the importance of trace element nutrients "fallen from the sky"

Storms and strong winds can blow dust from the land into the atmosphere, and can carry these minute particles thousands of miles. If and when this dust lands in the ocean, it can be extremely important, as this dust often carries important trace elements, which are rare but essential nutrients for ocean plankton – vitamins for the ocean.

“It's Dust.” Something in the way he said it made Lyra
imagine dust with a capital letter, as if this wasn't ordinary
dust.
Phillip Pullman, the Golden Compass

Ocean scientists have been analyzing beryllium-7 in seawater, as it gives a clue as to how much iron (an extremely important nutrient in the ocean) comes from the atmosphere. Scientists know the proportion of iron present in atmospheric dust when compared to beryllium-7. Similarly, they are able to track other micro nutrients, such as zinc, nickel and copper, that "fall from the sky" into the oceans. In particular, scientists are interested in the levels of iron that are entering the Southern Ocean, around Antarctica, as levels of this nutrient are very low, and limit productivity, in this important marine ecosystem.

To find out more about this important research, visit the SWINGS scientific expedition website and read the interview with NSF-funded researcher, Dr Bill Landing, of Florida State University: https://exploreur.univ-toulouse.fr/swings-4-between-sky-and-sea-story-dust

Photo credit: unsplash

A love for marine lifeNaiyiri-Blu Brooker grew up in a military family stationed in rural Germany far from the sea. Neve...
02/16/2021
A love for marine life

A love for marine life

Naiyiri-Blu Brooker grew up in a military family stationed in rural Germany far from the sea. Nevertheless, she has been obsessed by marine life since childhood. A new National Science Foundation (NSF) blog

https://beta.nsf.gov/science-matters/love-marine-life

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS. A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

The latest Marine Conservation Happy Hour podcast - What if the Mandalorian took place underwater?!After a marathon reco...
02/15/2021
‎Marine Conservation Happy Hour: What If The Mandalorian Took Place Underwater on Apple Podcasts

The latest Marine Conservation Happy Hour podcast - What if the Mandalorian took place underwater?!

After a marathon recording session in the bar, Drs Craken & Smash talk about science-fiction & the oceans

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/what-if-the-mandalorian-took-place-underwater/id1358697135?i=1000508552062

‎Show Marine Conservation Happy Hour, Ep What If The Mandalorian Took Place Underwater - Feb 10, 2021

The launch of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for SustainabilityAs we start the UN Decade for Ocean Science for Sustainab...
02/04/2021

The launch of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainability

As we start the UN Decade for Ocean Science for Sustainability, Dr Bill Easterling (Asst Director of Geosciences, National Science Foundation (NSF)) and Dr Terry Quinn (Director of the Division of Ocean Sciences, NSF) talk about the ocean science needs and priorities for the next decade. They also highlight what NSF is doing to help promote international ocean science, partnerships and collaboration, building a science & technology workforce for the the blue economy, and training and opportunities for the next generation of ocean scientists.

Watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2oQGS24wXw&feature=youtu.be

Marine geologists solve a climate research conundrum and confirm 11,700 years of rising temperaturesClimate scientists t...
01/29/2021
Seasonal origin of the thermal maxima at the Holocene and the last interglacial

Marine geologists solve a climate research conundrum and confirm 11,700 years of rising temperatures

Climate scientists that have tried to estimate the historical global climate have been faced with a problem where evidence from geological records has sometimes not agreed with computer simulation recreations of past climate. The geological evidence from the beginning of the most recent epoch (the Holocene, which started 11,700 years ago), shows an increase in global temperatures until they reached a peak between 10,000 and 6,000 years ago, and then there seemed to be global cooling, until the recent industrial era when temperatures again increased dramatically. Whereas computer simulations just show a trend of increasing temperatures during the Holocene.

However, a recent study has solved this problem. Much of the geological data was based on geological indicators of sea surface temperatures and researchers looked at these indicators in from a site off the coast of Papua New Guinea. They analyzed sediment core samples collected bythe National Science Foundation (NSF) supported International Ocean Discovery Program and the JOIDES Resolution scientific drilling ship. Specifically, the scientists looked at historical amounts of a plankton species that is sensitive to temperatures and levels of carbon dioxide (foraminifera) and a chemical produced by seaweeds that can be found in marine sediments.

National Science Foundation (NSF) -funded scientist Dr Samantha Bova, and her colleagues, found that the geological data was affected by seasonal changes and trends in sea surface temperatures. When this was taken into account, it was found that the geological data did, in fact, match the computer simulations, with a warming trend observed at the beginning of the Holocene as ice sheets retreated. Then, as atmospheric greenhouse gas levels started to increase, this caused a trend of increasing temperatures from about 6,5000 years ago.

Paper: Bova, S. et al. (2021). Seasonal origin of the thermal maxima at the Holocene and the last interglacial. Nature 589: 548-553. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-03155-x.

Reanalysis of Holocene sea surface temperature records affirms the role of retreating ice and rising greenhouse gases in driving a steady increase in global temperatures over the past 12,000 years.

The latest Marine Conservation Happy Hour podcast: Starting a dolphin/fisheries conservation project involving communiti...
01/29/2021
‎Marine Conservation Happy Hour: Starting A Fisheries Conservation Project Involving Communities on Apple Podcasts

The latest Marine Conservation Happy Hour podcast: Starting a dolphin/fisheries conservation project involving communities

The MCHH Crew is joined by Eduardo Mortello to discuss how he started a community-driven fisheries & dolphin entanglement conservation study in Mexico.

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/starting-fisheries-conservation-project-involving-communities/id1358697135?i=1000506841154

‎Show Marine Conservation Happy Hour, Ep Starting A Fisheries Conservation Project Involving Communities - Jan 27, 2021

The latest Marine Mammal Science podcast: Scotland's celebrity whalesDr. Ashley Scarlett talks to Lauren Hartny-Mills, a...
01/29/2021
‎Marine Mammal Science: Scotland’s Celebrity Whales of the Sea on Apple Podcasts

The latest Marine Mammal Science podcast: Scotland's celebrity whales

Dr. Ashley Scarlett talks to Lauren Hartny-Mills, about two much-loved, famous fins that visit the west coast of Scotland, Knobble the minke whale and John Coe the killer whale, and the key role citizen science has played in understanding the movements of these two celebrity whales.

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/scotlands-celebrity-whales-of-the-sea/id1475692072?i=1000506387675

‎Show Marine Mammal Science, Ep Scotland’s Celebrity Whales of the Sea - Jan 22, 2021

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We reached out to the local angling community to form a collaboration with a shared goal: to keep the sharks and rays in South African waters, for generations to come. We discussed responsible angling, and best handling techniques. As well as how researchers and anglers can better work together, for the benefit of the animals. Check out the video: https://www.facebook.com/OceansResearch/posts/10156949322232665
When Amahle Fanelo began his journey with us through our Oceans Research Foundation, Sea the Change program, we never could have guessed how far he'd come. Not only has he embraced all aspects of our marine employability program, working extremely hard to learn these new skills, but he has done so well, that it actually led him to save a life, through the lifeguard training he underwent as part of the program. We took the opportunity to interview this amazing young man… https://www.facebook.com/OceansResearch/posts/10156862280952665
Plastic pollution is a growing problem for our environment. One of the worst affected ecosystems, is our oceans. Oceans Research has recently started a microplastics project, for our field research program. We use a purpose built trawl, called a LADI trawl, to gather debris from the ocean surface, that we later analyse for plastic particles. Here’s a video showcasing our project:
Read our FIVE STEPS to wisely choose a Marine Research Internship Program. How work-ready are you? Potential employers look at, besides your degree, your job-specific skills. A field experience program gives you the opportunity to not only develop your skill sets to make you more employable, but also helps you contextualize what a career in marine research will look like down the road.