C. Scott Baker, Ph.D.


Scott Baker is associate director of the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University and an adjunct professor in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. To understand the potential role of marine protected areas (MPAs) for dolphins, a comprehensive description of “seascape genetics” is needed. Seascape genetics uses samples collected from local communities in habitats chosen to represent connectivity or isolation on a scale from 10s to 1,000s of kilometers. Across Oceania, there is the potential to collect genetic samples in areas where dolphins are protected and where they have been exposed to local hunting or other sources of anthropogenic or human-induced mortality (e.g., accidental death in fishing gear). Baker’s Pew fellowship pursued a large-scale collaborative project, extending from the Solomon Islands in the western Pacific to the Marquesas Islands in the eastern Pacific, to collect more than 1,800 samples for describing the genetic diversity and relatedness of dolphin populations. When possible, Baker and his colleagues collected independent information on local abundance and distribution to predict the types of habitat preferred by island-associated dolphins. With the advent of next-generation genetic sequencing technology, he and his colleagues have the potential to greatly enhance the resolution of conventional markers for measuring genetic diversity and differentiation. Together, descriptions of seascape genetics and models of habitat preference provided important data for estimating the distribution, abundance, and metapopulation structure of dolphins throughout Oceania. By describing “a pattern of dolphins,” or aPOD, Baker is hopeful that his project will provide a scientific basis to assess the adequacy of existing MPAs for conserving local populations of dolphins and to inform the design of new protected areas intended to help protect top predators. To learn more about Baker, visit his bio online: https://mmi.oregonstate.edu/people/c-scott-baker.

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