Texas Tech University

Jennifer Burns, PhD

Chair and Professor, Department of Biological Sciences; Affiliate Professor, University of Alaska

Email: jenn.burns@ttu.edu

Phone: 806-742-2715


2000 Postdoctoral Scholar, Institute of Marine Sciences, University of California Santa Cruz

1997 Doctor of Philosophy (Interdisciplinary Studies: Marine Biology), University of Alaska Fairbanks, Institute of Marine Science. “The development of diving behavior and physiology in juvenile Weddell seals in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica”

1992 Masters of Science (Fisheries), University of Washington, School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. “Environmental and biological factors that influence harbor seal haulout behavior in Washington, and their consequences for the design of population surveys”

1990 A.B. Biology (conc. Marine) and Zoology (double), English minor, University of California, Berkeley.


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Dr. Jennifer Burns

Research Interests

Over the past two decades, research in my laboratory has explored the linkages between physiology, nutrition, and performance in mammalian systems. Primarily, our work is focused on polar marine mammals, as the challenges these species face to exploit underwater food resources in a highly seasonal environment have led to multiple unique adaptations that highlight basic physiological principles. Research activities have proceeded along three main lines:

1. Understanding the pattern of physiological development in juvenile marine mammals, and how it is regulated;

2. Determining how physiological condition impacts diving performance and foraging success; and

3. Exploring how critical life history events are influenced by, and reflective of, physiological status, prey availability and environmental conditions.
These questions are particularly relevant in polar ecosystems, where climate change is reducing available habitats, and altering food webs, but they are important to all populations.

Selected recent publications (*Grad student in my lab)

  1. Hückstädt, LA., M.A., Piñones, D.M. Palacios, B.I. McDonald, M.S. Dinniman, E.E. Hofmann, J.M. Burns, D.E. Crocker, D.P. Costa (2020). Future shifts in the habitat of crabeater seals along the Antarctic Peninsula. Nature Climate Change. Https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-020-0745-9.

  2. *Walcott, S., M. Horning, A. Kirkham, J.M. Burns (2020). Thermoregulatory costs in molting Antarctic Weddell seals: impacts of physiological and environmental conditions. Conservation Physiology. 8(1): coaa022, doi: 10.1093/conphys/coaa022

  3. *Shero, M.R., P.J. Reiser, L. Simonitis, J.M. Burns. (2019). Links between muscle phenotype and life history: Differentiation of myosin heavy chain composition and muscle biochemistry in precocial and altricial pinniped pups Journal of Comparative Physiology B: JCPB-D-19-00051

  4. *Beltran, R.S., A.L. Kirkham, G.A. Breed, J.W. Testa, and J.M. Burns. (2019). Reproductive success delays moult phenology in a polar mammal. Sci.Rep.9: 5221 doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-41635-x

  5. Brennan, S.R., D.P. Fernandez, J.M. Burns, S. Aswad, D.E. Schindler, T.E. Cerling. (2019). Isotopes in teeth reveal a cryptic population of coastal freshwater seals. Conservation Biology  https://doi.org/10.1111/cobi.13303

  6. *Pearson, L.E., E.L. Weitzner, J.M. Burns, M.O. Hammill, H.E.M. Liwanag. (2019). From ice to ocean: Changes in the thermal function of harp seal pelt with ontogeny. J. Comp. Physiology B. doi.org/10.1007/s00360-019-01214-y00061

  7. *Beltran, R.S., J.M. Burns, G. Breed. 2018. Convergence of biannual moulting strategies across birds and mammals. Proc Biol Sci. 285(1878): 20180318.

  8. *Shero, MR, K.T. Goetz, D.P. Costa, J.M. Burns. 2018. Temporal changes in Weddell seal dive behavior over winter: are females increasing foraging efforts to support gestation? Ecology and Evolution. DOI: 10.1002/ece3.4643

  9. *Beltran, R.S., J.W. Testa, and J.M. Burns. 2017.An agent-based bioenergetics model for predicting impacts of environmental change on top predators. Ecological Modelling 351 (10): 36–50. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2017.02.002

  10. Salas, L. N. Nur, D. Ainley, J.M. Burns, and G. Ballard. 2017. Coping with loss of large, energy-dense prey: a potential energy bottleneck for Weddell seals in the Southern Ross Sea. Ecological Applications. 27: 10-25. DOI: 10.1002/eap.1435

  11. Varsani, A., G. Frankfurter, D. Stainton, M. Male, S. Kraberger, J.M. Burns. 2017. Identification of a polyomavirus in Weddell seal (Leptonychotes weddellii) from the Ross Sea (Antarctica). Archives of Virology 162(5):1403-1407. doi: 10.1007/s00705-017-3239-y. Epub 2017 Jan 25

  12. •Goetz, K.T., J.M. Burns, L.A. Hückstädt, M.R. Shero, D.P. Costa. 2016. Temporal variation in isotopic composition and diet of Weddell seals in the western Ross Sea. Deep-Sea Research Part II. doi:10.1016/j.dsr2.2016.05.017

  13. Burns, J.M., K.C Lestyk, D. Freistroffer, and M.O. Hammill. 2015. Preparing Muscles for Diving: Age-Related Changes in Muscle Metabolic Profiles in Harp (Pagophilus groenlandicus) and Hooded (Cystophora cristata) Seals. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology. 88:167-182

  14. *Shero, M.R., G. Adams, J.M. Burns. 2015. Field use of ultrasonography to characterize the reproductive tract and early pregnancy in a phocid, the Weddell seal (Leptonychotes weddellii). The Anatomical Record 298: 1970-1977 doi: 10.1002/ar.23264.

  15. *Shero, M.R., D.P. Costa, and J. M. Burns. 2015. Scaling matters: incorporating body composition into Weddell seal seasonal oxygen store comparisons reveals maintenance of aerobic capacities. Journal of Comparative Physiology B. 185: 811-24. doi: 10.1007/s00360-015-0922-8.

Department of Biological Sciences

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    Department of Biological Sciences, Texas Tech University, Box 43131 Lubbock, TX 79409
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