Markus Horning, Ph.D.

Senior Research Scientist


My research focuses on integrative, ecosystem-based investigations of the life history, physiological ecology, trophic and population ecology of upper trophic marine vertebrates, as well as their predators and prey.


Associate Professor – Senior Research, Oregon State University
Affiliate Faculty, University of Alaska Fairbanks and Anchorage
Adjunct Associate Professor, Texas A&M University at Galveston

I grew up all over the world since my dad used to work for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN). I finished high school in Rome, Italy, and first went to college at the University of California San Diego in 1978. I interrupted my program to spend a year in Antarctic in 1981 participating in an overwintering project on the diving behavior of Weddell seals at White Island, near McMurdo. This is what really kindled my passion for diving animals like seals and penguins. I then obtained my Diplom degree in Biology at the University of Freiburg in Germany in 1988 (I studied aging physiology in blowflies, but let’s not talk about that). In 1992 I received my doctoral degree in natural sciences through the University of Bielefeld and the Max Planck Institute for Behavioral Physiology in Germany, doing research on the development of diving in young Galapagos fur seals. After working as a post-doctoral researcher at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, I worked at Texas A&M University in Galveston as a 100% grant-funded research scientist for 10 years. I joined the faculty of Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute in Newport for almost another ten years before taking on the role of Science Director at the Alaska SeaLife Center in 2015. Really, this felt like coming home to Seward, because I’ve been doing research here as a visiting researcher ever since the ASLC opened in 1998. While I still have many projects that carry me to distant places like Antarctica, I am really excited about focusing increasingly on Alaska’s marine ecosystems and on studying the changing arctic ecosystems right on our doorstep. Alaska has always fascinated me, and in my experience no place can compete with the ASLC’s utterly unique combination of amazing facilities, fantastic staff, and proximity to a wealth of natural resources that we need to better understand in order to effectively manage them for our own use and future generations.

Bishop A, Brown C, Rehberg M, Torres L, Horning M (2018) Juvenile Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) utilization distributions in the Gulf of Alaska. Movemement Ecology 6:6.

Horning M, Haulena M, Tuomi PA, Mellish JE, Goertz CE, Woodie K, Berngartt RK, Johnson S, Shuert CR, Walker KA, Skinner JP, Boveng PL (2017) Best practice recommendations for the use of fully implanted telemetry devices in pinnipeds. Animal Biotelemetry 5:13.

Horning M, Haulena M, Rosenberg JF, Nordstrom C (2017) Intraperitoneal implantation of life-long telemetry transmitters in three rehabilitated harbor seal pups. BMC Veterinary Research 13:139.

Steingass S, Horning M (2017) Individual-based energetic model suggests bottom up mechanisms for the impact of coastal hypoxia on Pacific harbor seal (Phoca vitulina richardii) foraging behavior. Journal of Theoretical Biology 416:190-198.

Hays GC, … Horning, M., et 36 al. (2016) Key Questions in Marine Megafauna Movement Ecology. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 31(6): 463-475.

Fregosi A, Klinck H, Horning M, Costa DP, Mann D, Sexton K, Hückstädt LA, Mellinger DK, Southall BL (2016) An animal-borne active acoustic tag for minimally invasive behavioral response studies on marine mammals. Animal Biotelemetry 4:1.

Hindle A, Horning M, Mellish JE (2015)  Estimating total body heat dissipation in air and water from skin surface heat flux telemetry in Weddell seals. Animal Biotelemetry. 3:50

Maresh JL, Adachi T, Takahashi A, Naito Y, Crocker DE, Horning M, Williams TM, Costa DP (2015) Summing the strokes: energy economy in northern elephant seals during large-scale foraging migrations. Movement Ecology. 3(22):1-16

Shuert C, Horning M, Mellish JE (2015) The Effect of Novel Research Activities on Long-term Survival of Temporarily Captive Steller Sea Lions (Eumetopias jubatus). PLoS ONE 10(11):e0141948.

Shuert C, Mellish JE, Horning M (2015) Physiological predictors of long-term survival in juvenile Steller Sea Lions (Eumetopias jubatus). Conservation Physiology 3(1):cov043.

Mellish J-A, Hindle A, Skinner J, Horning M (2015) Heat loss in air of an Antarctic marine mammal, the Weddell seal. Journal of Comparative Physiology B. 185(1):143-152

Horning M, Mellish JE (2014) In cold blood: evidence of Pacific sleeper shark (Somniosus pacificus) predation on Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus) in the Gulf of Alaska. Fishery Bulletin 112:297-310.

Womble JN, Blundell GM, Gende SM, Horning M, Sigler MF, Csepp DJ (2014) Linking marine predator diving behavior to local prey fields in contrasting habitats in a subarctic glacial fjord. Marine Biology. 161(6):1361-1374

Horning M, Mellish JE (2012) Predation on an Upper Trophic Marine Predator, the Steller Sea Lion: Evaluating High Post-weaning mortality in a Density Dependent Conceptual Framework. PLoS ONE 7(1):e30173.

Horning M (2012) Constraint lines and performance envelopes in behavioral physiology: the case of the aerobic dive limit. Frontiers in Physiology 3:381. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2012.00381

Hindle AJ, Mellish JE, Horning M (2011) Aerobic dive limit does not decline in an aging pinniped. J. Exp. Zoology. 315A :544-552

Hindle AJ, Horning M (2010) Energetics of breath-hold hunting: modeling the effects of aging on foraging success in the Weddell seal. Journal of Theoretical Biology. 264(3):673-82

Horning M, Mellish JE (2009) Spatially explicit detection of predation on individual pinnipeds from implanted post-mortem satellite data transmitter. Endangered Species Research 10:135-143.

Hindle AJ, Horning M, Mellish JE, Lawler JM (2009) Diving into old age: muscular senescence in a large-bodied, long-lived mammal, the Weddell seal (Leptonychotes weddellii). The Journal of Experimental Biology. 212(Pt 6):790-6

Horning M, Haulena M, Tuomi P, Mellish J (2008) Intraperitoneal implantation of life-long telemetry transmitters in otariids. BMC Veterinary Research 2008 4: 51.

Mellish J, Thomton J, Horning M (2007) Physiological and behavioral response to intra-abdominal transmitter implantation in Steller sea lions. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 351:283-293.

Mellish JE, Calkins DG, Christen DR, Horning M, Rea LD, Atkinson SK (2006) Temporary captivity as a research tool: comprehensive study of wild pinnipeds under controlled conditions. Aquatic Mammals 32:58-65.

Horning M, Hill RD (2005) Designing an archival satellite transmitter for life-long deployments on oceanic vertebrates: The Life History Transmitter. IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering 30: 807-817.