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Joseph Tomoleoni

Joe is a USGS biologist that is broadly interested in the ecology of coastal marine communities, particularly the influences of vertebrate predators on community structure.

Most of his field research has focused on sea otter populations around the Northeastern Pacific Ocean.  His past and current study sites focus mostly on Central and Southern California (including the Channel Islands), but also include many other locations around the Northeast Pacific like the Aleutian Islands, Southeast and Southcentral Alaska, and Washington. These studies are designed to better understand the suite of direct and indirect interactions between sea otters and other species in the nearshore environment.  Joe and his colleagues use this model system to elucidate the influence of high-trophic-level consumers on the organization of the communities in which they live. Their research questions aim to investigate various aspects of sea otter behavioral ecology including: foraging trends, activity budgets, movement patterns, survival, and reproduction. The information gathered from their research helps to obtain a better understanding of sea otter biology, which, through species interactions with biotic and abiotic factors in their environment, advances our knowledge base for entire nearshore marine ecosystems. 

In addition to sea otter population studies, Joe's fieldwork also includes intertidal and subtidal surveys of nearshore communities, as well as dive work to capture and tag sea otters and collect data or samples that help us better understand the link between otters, kelp forests, estuaries, and people. Joe and his USGS colleagues are also the lead agency conducting the annual sea otter census in California, which monitors population change and distribution over time.  Joe also serves on the USGS National Dive Safety Board as the Southwest Region Dive Safety Officer.