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M. Tim Tinker

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The distributions and abundances of species and populations change almost continuously. Understanding the processes responsible is perhaps ecology’s most fundamental challenge. Kelp-forest ecosystems in southwest Alaska have undergone several phase shifts between alga- and herbivore-dominated states in recent decades. Overhunting and recovery of sea otters caused the earlier shifts. Studies focusing on these changes demonstrate the importance of top-down forcing processes, a variety of indirect food-web interactions associated with the otter-urchin-kelp trophic cascade, and the role of food-chain length in the coevolution of defense and resistance in plants and their herbivores. This system unexpectedly shifted...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Bulletin of Marine Science
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Comparing sea otter recovery in California (CA) and British Columbia (BC) reveals key ecosystem properties that shape top-down effects in seagrass communities. We review potential ecosystem drivers of sea otter foraging in CA and BC seagrass beds, including the role of coastline complexity and environmental stress on sea otter effects. In BC, we find greater species richness across seagrass trophic assemblages. Furthermore, Cancer spp. crabs, an important link in the seagrass trophic cascade observed in CA, are less common. Additionally, the more recent reintroduction of sea otters, more complex coastline, and reduced environmental stress in BC seagrass habitats supports the hypotheses that sea otter foraging pressure...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Marine Pollution Bulletin
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Parametric and nonparametric kernel methods dominate studies of animal home ranges and space use. Most existing methods are unable to incorporate information about the underlying physical environment, leading to poor performance in excluding areas that are not used. Using radio-telemetry data from sea otters, we developed and evaluated a new algorithm for estimating home ranges (hereafter Permissible Home Range Estimation, or “PHRE”) that reflects habitat suitability. We began by transforming sighting locations into relevant landscape features (for sea otters, coastal position and distance from shore). Then, we generated a bivariate kernel probability density function in landscape space and back-transformed this...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: PLoS ONE
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Kelp forest communities are highly variable over space and time. Despite this complexity it has been suggested that kelp forest communities can be classified into one of 2 states: kelp dominated or sea urchin dominated. It has been further hypothesized that these represent “alternate stable states” because a site can remain in either of these states for decades before some perturbation causes a rapid shift to the other state. Our research group has maintained a subtidal community monitoring program for 38 years at San Nicolas Island consisting of twice-annual scuba-based surveys at 6 sites distributed within 4 regions around the island. Three types of perturbations are thought to be relevant to subtidal community...
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Between 1999 and 2014, 126 archival time–depth recorders (TDRs) were used to examine the foraging behavior of southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) off the coast of California, in both resource-abundant (recently occupied, low sea otter density) and resource-limited (long-occupied, high sea otter density) locations. Following predictions of foraging theory, sea otters generally behaved as energy rate maximizers. Males and females without pups employed similar foraging strategies to optimize rates of energy intake in resource-limited habitats, with some exceptions. Both groups increased overall foraging effort and made deeper, longer and more energetically costly dives as resources became limited, but males...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Behavioral Ecology
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