ABOUT ME

I am a marine ecologist from southern Norway with research interest in studies of anthropogenic influence on coastal marine populations, in particular how harvesting can interfere with species’ mating behaviour, sexual selection and other life history traits.

Humans have brought about unprecedented changes to ecosystems worldwide and we still have a limited understanding of how populations respond to agents of selection. For instance, having a large body size comes with many advantages, but fishing tends to select on size and remove the oldest and biggest individuals and leave the smallest behind. Consequently, we now see changes in sex ratios, decrease in body size and in size of weaponry (e.g. claws); trait changes that can undermine the reliability of sexual signals used by animals to assess competitors and potential suitors. Phenotypic plasticity is likely to play a role in such contemporary changes, but if there is a heritable component to trait variation, then populations may also evolve in response to selection. How we include co-evolutionary impact into management practises is important for sustainable harvest and conservation.

I study selectivity, population dynamics and contemporary evolution in lobster and wrasse fishes in a marine protected areas (MPAs) – fisheries context. I work with data from capture-mark-recapture programs, genetic analysis and are involved in development of new observation methods. I also work with assembling ground-truth data of coastal marine species by using underwater camera/RFID system for machine learning projects.

Currently, I am based at the Centre for Coastal Research, at the University of Agder, as a Postdoctoral Researcher where I’m invested in ongoing projects on integrating machine learning in marine ecology by developing novel computer vision pipeline for automated fish identification (fish detection, tracking classification and Re-ID). The aim is to better understand spatial and temporal dynamics in natural populations, movement ecology and reproductive behaviour with high resolution because for many species, behavioural adjustments represent the first response to altered conditions.

In 2019, I completed my PhD on how protected areas and selective fishing affect mating behaviour, sexual selection, and body growth of European lobster, at the Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis at the University of Oslo.

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©2020 Tonje Knutsen Sørdalen