About Ellen M Hines
At SF State Since:
Ellen Hines, Professor
Ph.D. (University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada)
M.A. (San Diego State University)
B.A. (Mills College)
In any ecosystem, the presence of marine mammals could be a major influence in system processes. While methods for population assessment have been active areas for scientific research, the relationship of marine mammals to the composition and structure of their environment is an important concept for the advancement of scientific conservation and management knowledge. Could the presence of a whale, a seal, a dolphin, a dugong or manatee be an indicator of ecosystem health, a keystone species that protects the diversity, resilience, and productivity of their communities, or a predator just passing through an area where similar processes would occur without their presence? There is increasing evidence of top-down, or cascading influences that are created by the influence of transient species in ecological communities. Long term studies with reliable baseline information are needed to chronicle and eventually predict these occurrences.
Relationships with physical factors of the environment also structure a biotic community. For a complete picture of an ecologic system, local and regional influences of physical and hydrologic oceanographic phenomena must be studied from both a spatial and temporal viewpoint. But that information must be assembled into a coherent and accessible format.
I am interested in research that explores tools to facilitate the creation, implementation, and subsequent monitoring of localized scientific and conservation oriented management. Much is said about Geographic Information Systems, and we are interested in expanding GIS's potential for ecological modeling. Even less is known about the real capabilities of using GIS as a tool to organize large databases concerning complicated marine processes. While GIS is a mapping tool, its true strength lies in its adaptability to incorporate many different kinds of data spatially and model the sensitivity of intricate processes. A marine mammal information system could be both a database of locational, ecological, and oceanographic information, and an integrated management tool, incorporating digital imagery for decision making in coastal and marine systems.
I am also interested in creating management decision support systems that can be applied to community-based conservation planning for coastal and marine areas. These systems can be designed for the ongoing assessment, management and monitoring of indicator populations based on community ecology, oceanographic parameters, and local conservation issues. My most recent research is a study of the field assessment, mapping, and management techniques used in an area which has a marine mammal population potentially threatened by coastal development, destructive fishing techniques, and increasing tourist activities: dugongs and coastal cetaceans on the Andaman and eastern Gulf coast of Thailand. Another area of interest is the use of habitat by foraging gray whales along the west coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia.
The graduate students who work with me are interested in a variety of the issues these interests encompass. Not all projects need to be coastal or marine, not all have to have GIS or remote sensing. I am also interested in protected area issues, endangered species, and have wanted for a while to work with raptors! Please see the website for the Marine and Coastal Conservation and Spatial Planning Lab for further information.