CEBEL members have the ability to undertake basic, strategic, and applied research on different aspects of the ecology, behaviour, evolution, and health of whales and dolphins utilising a wide variety of methods (aerial surveys, boat, and land-based surveys, drone surveys, biopsy sampling), technologies (satellite tracking, omics, Geographic Information Systems, laser, and aerial photogrammetry) and analytical approaches (mark-recapture models, distance sampling, species distribution models, genomic stock assessment, genome-wide association studies, metagenomics-based health assessments, bioinformatics).

Members of CEBEL currently work on three core and synergistic research areas:

Cetacean behavioural ecology,
population biology, spatial ecology,
and community ecology

CEBEL integrates ecological and behavioural data from the field with molecular methods and ecological modelling from the laboratory to model the distribution, abundance, behaviour, social structure, and habitat use of cetaceans. Our aim is to better understand where animals are found and why, how does their behaviour contribute to the survival and reproduction of individual animals, the demography and dynamics of wild populations; how these populations interact with each other and their environment, and how can we apply this information to their conservation and management.

Cetacean molecular ecology

CEBEL uses innovative molecular ecological approaches (genomics and other omics technologies) to investigate different aspects of the diversity, ecology, social structure, evolution and health of cetaceans including identification of stocks, population genetic structure and population boundaries, dispersal patterns and connectivity; social systems through kinship and parentage analysis; phylogeographic patterns and evolutionary relationships of cetaceans; epidemiological assessments and host-pathogen interactions. The work is done in close collaboration with the Molecular Ecology lab at Flinders.

Anthropogenic impacts on Cetaceans

Upper-level predators such as many cetaceans play an important role in maintaining the structure and functioning of marine ecosystems. As a result, there is an urgent need to understand:

  1. The magnitude of human pressures on cetacean populations
  2. Cetacean responses to environmental heterogeneity and change, and anthropogenic activities in space and time and
  3. The potential impacts of changes to cetacean populations.

CEBEL members are currently working on different projects directed at evaluating anthropogenic and climatic impacts on cetaceans to improve the scientific basis behind their conservation and management.