PhD Research - Lindsey Peavey

MEM, Duke University; BS University of Miami, Florida

Pacific olive ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelyls olivacea) are listed as “vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Although this particular sea turtle population is faring better than other more critically endangered sea turtle populations around the world, we know little about their diets, developmental life history stages, habitat use, and population dynamics. This is problematic for both species conservation and human resource management. Similarly only to the leatherback sea turtle, olive ridleys are highly mobile pelagic consumers that spend almost all their time in the open ocean, miles away from shore. Naturally, this makes them challenging to study, and to protect. Their distribution spans the management boundaries of 10 different countries along the west coast of the Americas, and their oceanic habitat coincides with both commercial and artisanal fishing activity. This shared habitat presents a problem, as olive ridley sea turtles accidently interact (e.g., hooking, entanglement) with fishing gear, known as “bycatch,” at an alarmingly high rate in this region of the Pacific. These interactions are unfortunate for both sea turtles and fisheries. In order to inform resource management such as the reduction of sea turtle bycatch, we need to learn more about the open ocean ecology of Pacific olive ridleys. That’s where my research comes in. Here at UCSB and in collaboration with NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center, I have been studying the pelagic ecology of olive ridley sea turtles in the eastern Pacific Ocean, including foraging behavior, trophic roles, population genetics, predictable habitat use, at-sea mating, and movement patterns. To address these knowledge gaps, I use multiple non-invasive approaches including stable isotope analysis, genetics, animal tracking, habitat modeling, and geo-spatial analysis.

Year Admitted: 2010
Research Areas: Pelagic sea turtle ecology, applied conservation biology, marine resource management, stable isotope ecology
Faculty Advisor: Steve Gaines



Peavey, LE, BN Popp, KE Arthur, S Kelez, and JA Seminoff. (In prep.) Isotopic evidence of a specialized diet for the generalist Pacific olive ridley sea turtle from the Costa Rica Dome.

Peavey, LE, KR Stewart, MP Jensen, PH Dutton. (In prep.) An initial description of genetic population structure for the pan-mictic Pacific olive ridley sea turtle.

Peavey, LE, C Moczydlowsky, and LE Dee. (In prep.) Fishable area: a novel spatial productivity metric derived from global net primary productivity models.

Peavey LE, et al. (In prep.) Eastern Pacific δ15N isoscape derived from sea turtle tissue values.

Dee, LE, SJ Miller, LE Peavey, DE Bradley, D Startz, R Gentry, AD Rildon, SE Lester, and SD Gaines. (In prep.) Catch functional diversity mitigates the negative impacts of temperature variability on global fisheries.

Peavey, LE, E Johnson, CV Kappel, R Wildermuth, R Williams, LR Gerber. (In prep.) Integrating expert opinion and empirical data to assess threats to marine mammals: a case study for Southern resident killer whales.

Chen X. et al. (2014) Perspectives on disconnects between science and management of post-fire recovery in the Western US. Environmental Management. 52(6):1415-1426. Stimpert, AK, LE Peavey, AS Friedlaender, and DP Nowacek. (2012) Humpback whale song and foraging on an Antarctic feeding ground. PLoS ONE 7(12):e51214.

Gerber, LR, J Estes, T Gancos Crawford, LE Peavey, and AJ Read. (2011) Managing for extinction? Conflicting conservation objectives in a large marine reserve. Conservation Letters 4(6):417-422.

Peavey, L. (2010) Predicting pelagic habitat with presence-only data using maximum entropy for olive ridley sea turtles in the eastern tropical Pacific. Masters thesis. Available at: <>.

Peavey, L, RL Pitman, S Benson, J Harvey, B Watson, T Graham, and K Kopitsky. (2010) Big Eyes, Big Boats and Home Videos — Studying Sea Turtles At Sea. SWOT: The State of the World’s Sea Turtles Report, Vol. V:8-12.

Friedlaender, AS, DWJ Nowacek, AJ Read, RB Tyson, L Peavey, and MS Revelli. (2009)Multiple sightings of a large group of Arnoux’s beaked whales (Berardius arnouxii) in the Gerlache Strait, Antarctica. Marine Mammal Science 26(1):246-250.


NSF Dimensions of Biodiversity Distributed Graduate Seminar, University of California,Santa Barbara. More info available here: <> (2011 – 2013)

University of Utah Inter-university Training for Continental-scale Ecology, Research-in-Residence with Dr. Brian Popp in the Biogeochemical Stable Isotope Laboratory, University of Hawaii. (2013)

Developing comprehensive management models for marine mammals. National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, Santa Barbara, California. (2013-2014)

Review Panel for the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center’s Hawaiian monk seal translocation program. Society for Conservation Biology, Marine Section. (2011)

Multiscale Integrative Studies of Humpback whales And their Prey (MISHAP), Western Antarctic Peninsula. Visual Observer and Acoustic Auditing Coordinator.  Funded by the National Science Foundation. More info available here:  <> Duke University Marine Lab, North Carolina. (2009-2010)

Stenella Abundance Research (STAR) NOAA Pelagic Sea Turtle Biologist. More info available here: <> Southwest Fisheries Science Center, La Jolla, California. (2006)

Fellowships and Awards

National Research Council Research Associateship – declined (2014)

UCSB GradSlam Semifinalist (2014)

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (2010-2013)

UCSB Bradley Paul Nuremberg Memorial Award (2010)

Research Grants

Inter-university Training for Continental-scale Ecology Research-in-Residence ($6,400) - 2012

SciFund crowdfunding: Turtles in the Deep ($3,000) - 2011