Kat Nikolich, PhD Candidate

University of Victoria, Biology

Bio: My primary research interest is studying the impact of anthropogenic noise on marine animals, especially long-term exposure to vessel noise, and how animals adapt to increased ambient noise from human activities. My previous research has focused on characterizing the vocalizations produced by marine mammals, including harbour seals and baleen whales.

Supervisors: Dr. Francis Juanes (UVic) and Dr. Corey Morris (DFO)

Start to Finish: 01/2018 to 01/2021

CHONe Project: CHONe Project 2.1.4: Anthropogenic noise in the ocean soundscape: effects on fishes and invertebrates

Project Title: Examining the effects of anthropogenic noise on commercially-important fish species in Canada


Project Description:

My project will focus on measuring the amount of anthropogenic noise experienced by commercially-important fish species in BC and Newfoundland, as well as lab-based and open-water playback experiments to test the effects of noise on the behaviour and vocalizations of these fishes.

The specific project/thesis aims are:

  1. To characterize the level of shipping noise (BC/NL) and seismic air gun noise (NL) experienced within critical fish habitats, and model the potential loss of communication space for fishes.
  2. To experimentally investigate the behavioural response of Pacific rockfish and Atlantic cod to exposure to noise using playbacks.
  3. To investigate the vocal response of Pacific rockfish and Atlantic cod to noise playbacks, and whether these fish species exhibit strategies to mitigate masking.

This research will provide a summary of the current noise levels within critical fish habitat, and the potential impact this could have on commercially-important fish species with low or declining populations in Canada. Additionally, this research will provide suggestions and goals for mitigating noise impacts on these important fish species. These results will in turn help to support sustainable use and exploration of ocean-based resources in Canada.