Mark Johnson

mj_pic1Mark Johnson is a MASTS senior research fellow focused on the development and application of miniature acoustic and movement sensors for marine animals. On completing a PhD in electronic engineering at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, he took a research position at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, USA, developing underwater acoustic communication systems. There he teamed with biologist Peter Tyack to explore how similar instruments could help in the study of marine life, a collaboration that resulted in the first widely-used sound recording tag for marine mammals. This device combines high-resolution acoustic and movement sensors to provide an integrated picture of how whales use, and respond to, sound underwater. The tags are now used throughout the world enabling a range of studies in foraging, social communication, locomotion and responses to anthropogenic sound. In June 2011, Mark joined the University of St. Andrews where he is developing a new generation of sound recording tags to study the long-term impact of environmental noise.

Current research
My research is centered on developing high-resolution tools for studying animals in the wild, and in interpreting data from these. I am especially interested in quantifying the foraging behaviour of marine mammals using echolocation signals and body acceleration as cues. The passive acoustic detection of marine animals is another focus. A current challenge is to radically extend the recording duration of high-resolution tags to study the long-term consequences of increasing ambient noise on foraging success and habitat choice.

Contact Mark
Email address:
Office telephone number: 01334 46262401334 4626 00

For more information and details on Mark’s publications see his page on the University of St Andrews research portal.

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