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The Impact of Climate Change on Animal Behavior: The Arctic Marine and Monterey Bay Ecosystems

Project by Polygence alum Cecilia

a gray seal popping his head out of water

Project's result

Cecilia wrote a research paper and created an infographic to share her findings.

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Climate change impacts ecosystems all across the world and affects the entire biosphere. Although the effects of climate change have been well-researched, comparisons of its effect on animal behavior across ecosystems is lacking. To narrow this gap, this paper compared changing behavior of marine mammals in the Arctic marine ecosystem to the Monterey Bay ecosystem. The Arctic marine ecosystem provides habitat to thousands of species, including polar bears, seals, fish, whales, and many species of algae. The Monterey Bay ecosystem is a marine ecosystem located in Northern California, and it is home to hundreds of species of kelp, sea otters, seals, sea lions, seagulls and other animals. This research highlights the similarities and differences in select animals’ migration, predation, distribution, and reproductive behavior changes in response to climate change. This work focuses on species central to each ecosystem: sea otters, seals, and dolphins in Monterey Bay and polar bears, seals, and whales in the Arctic. By accounting for the effects of climate change on animal behavior, predictions were made based on the connection between the two ecosystems’ similar changing behavioral patterns. Through comparing the Arctic marine ecosystem and the Monterey Bay ecosystem, scientists can gain an in-depth comprehension of the changes in animal behavior as a result of climate change across wide geographies and suggest a new method of observing the impact of climate change globally to enable more accurate ecosystem predictions.



Polygence mentor

PhD Doctor of Philosophy


Biology, Quantitative


coral biology, environmental changes, marine ecosystems, applications of math to ecology, how ocean dynamics affect marine life, how organisms specialize for their environments, how hybridization affects the potential of species, using models to connect to real-world systems, interactions of social factors and the environment, spatial statistics projects, symbiosis, landscape genetics, microbial interactions





The Harker School

Graduation Year


Project review

“My mentor helped me a lot throughout the essay writing and research process. I really enjoyed my work with Carly and she and the Polygence program taught me a lot about scientific research and the connection between animal behavior and climate change.”