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In order to design a meaningful research project, scientists must first have a solid understanding of the subject they wish to study.  Dr. Mellish and her team are fortunate because the Weddell seal population on McMurdo Sound has been studied extensively since 1968. Data collected as part of this Montana State University project has resulted in one of the most complete life histories of any wild mammal population in the world!


Learn about the life history of Weddell seals. (3:50)

Video Transcript

While much is known about the life history of Weddell seals, less is understood about the species' physiological needs, including how they thermoregulate. In fact, due to the challenges that come with studying animals that split their time between land and sea, very little is known about the energetic costs of thermoregulation in any marine mammal species.


Physiologist Dr. Allyson Hindle explains the concept of energetics and describes what makes up the 'energy budget' of a Weddell seal. (1:13)

Video Transcript

Thanks to recent advances in technology, tools now exist that allow scientists to study energetics in marine environments. Dr. Jo-Ann Mellish and her team hope to use these tools to establish a baseline for the energetic costs of thermoregulation in Weddell seals. They will use this information to predict polar seals' ability to adapt to changing habitat conditions.

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Meet Jo-Ann Mellish
Meet Markus Horning
Meet Allyson Hindle
Meet John Skinner

Antarctic map

  DATA (n) - values for something measured
  LIFE HISTORY (v) - the series of changes a living thing goes through during its lifetime
  THERMOREGULATION (n) - the ability to maintain a constant body temperature under changing conditions
  ENERGETICS (n) - the study of how energy is gained, used and lost (or transformed)
  ADAPT (v) - to change behaviors or physical traits to survive in an specific environment
  POLAR (n) -describing the area of the Earth’s surface around the north and south poles
  PHYSIOLOGIST (n) - a biologist who studies the processes that help living things function