Welcome to the Thometz Lab

How do physiological traits influence the behavior, ecology, and survival of marine mammals? This question is central to understanding how different species are able to respond to both anthropogenic disturbance and environmental change. Currently, marine mammals face a variety of challenges including: fisheries interactions, resource limitation, habitat degradation, noise pollution, and climate change. These issues and many more are concerning to biologists, resource managers, and conservationists. In the Thometz Lab at the University of San Francisco, we examine how physiological and behavioral parameters at the individual level can scale up to population level implications. We utilize a variety of laboratory and field-based techniques to gain a comprehensive understanding of the physiological capacities and limitations of various marine mammal species. Understanding the underlying physiology of a given species and its ability to adapt or respond to changing conditions can provide critical information to aid in management and conservation efforts.

Lab News!

May 2020


USF Creative Activities & Research Day (CARD)

Two Thometz Lab graduate students received awards for their presentations at CARD this year!! Michelle Hartwick (left) received the award for Best Oral Presentation by a graduate student in the sciences for her presentation: "Evaluating Body Condition in Bearded, Ringed, and Spotted Seals". Sophia Lyon (right) received the award for Best Poster Presentation by a graduate student for her poster: "Investigations of southern sea otter foraging ecology at the northern range extent". Way to go you two!! SCIENCE!!

January 2020


Sophia Lyon Awarded Grant from Sea Otter Foundation & Trust

Graduate student Sophia Lyon received an important grant from the Sea Otter Foundation and Trust (SOFT) to fund part of her graduate research studying the foraging ecology of southern sea otters at their northern range extent. We are excited to see what Sophia learns about this segment of the population... stay tuned!

December 2019

World Marine Mammal Conference. Barcelona, Spain

The Thometz Lab and colleagues traveled to Barcelona to present their research on Arctic seal physiology. Dr. Thometz gave a presentation on the energetics of molt in ringed, bearded, and spotted seals; Mariah Tengler presented a poster about ice seal muscle physiology; Michelle Hartwick presented a poster concerning ice seal body condition. In addition, our colleagues at UCSC (pictured: Dr. Colleen Reichmuth), UBC and other institutions presented exciting research regarding ice seals and a number of other marine mammal species. 

November 2019


Mariah Tengler Defends Her Masters Thesis Research

After two years in the Thometz Lab, Mariah Tengler defended her masters thesis work, titled: "Physiological development of locomotor muscle in ringed, bearded, and spotted seals". Her work contributes to our understanding of diving physiology in these species and provides insight into their behavioral flexibility in light of sea ice loss and environmental change. Mariah has already accepted a position with The Marine Mammal Center and we cannot wait to see what the next steps in her career hold!! Cheers!!

January 2019


Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) Annual Meeting. Tampa, FL.

The Thometz Lab traveled to Tampa, FL to present a poster and two oral presentations at the annaul SICB meeting. Mariah Tengler gave an oral presentation on the physiological properties of bearded seal locomotor muscle, Michelle Hartwick presented a poster of her research concerning seasonal changes in Arctic seal body condition, and Dr. Thometz gave an oral presentation focused on the metabolic consequences of molt in spotted, ringed, and bearded seals. 

May 2018


Research Trip to the Alaska SeaLife Center (Seward, AK)

Dr. Thometz traveled to Seward, Alaska to work with our research partners at the Alaska SeaLife Center. In the photo to the left, Dr. Thometz is working cooperatively with a young male ringed seal named Pimniq, to take detailed photos of his coat during his annual molt. During their annual molt, Arctic seals shed all of their fur and several layers of their epidermis. We are conducting research to better understand the physiological and energetic consequences of molt in ringed, bearded, and spotted seals. 

April 2018


USF Creative Activities & Research Day (CARD)

USF Junior Esther Grady (pictured) and graduate student Mariah Tengler presented posters at USF's annual Creative Activities and Research Day. Esther presented her research: "Using Photogrammetry to Examine Ontogenetic and Longitudinal Patterns of Growth and Body Condition in Artic Seals". Mariah presented her research: "Aerobic and Anaerobic Properties of Bearded Seal Locomotor Muscle". 

January 2018


Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) Annual Meeting. San Francisco, CA.

The Thometz Lab presented poster and oral presentations of our collaborative research project, examining the unique physiology of bearded seals (Erignathus barbatus).

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