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Kristin Laidre

Principal Oceanographer

Professor, School of Aquatic + Fishery Sciences





Department Affiliation

Polar Science Center


B.S. Zoology, University of Washington - Seattle, 1999

Ph.D. Aquatic & Fishery Sciences, University of Washington - Seattle, 2003

Kristin Laidre's Website



2000-present and while at APL-UW

Passive acoustic monitoring reveals year-round marine mammal community composition off Tasiilaq, Southeast Greenland

Mattmueller, R.M., K. Thomisch, I. Van Opzeeland, K.L. Laidre, and M. Simon, "Passive acoustic monitoring reveals year-round marine mammal community composition off Tasiilaq, Southeast Greenland," J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 151, 1380-1392, doi:10.1121/10.0009429, 2022.

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28 Feb 2022

Climate-driven changes are affecting sea ice conditions off Tasiilaq, Southeast Greenland, with implications for marine mammal distributions. Knowledge about marine mammal presence, biodiversity, and community composition is key to effective conservation and management but is lacking, especially during winter months. Seasonal patterns of acoustic marine mammal presence were investigated relative to sea ice concentration at two recording sites between 2014 and 2018, with one (65.6°N, 37.4°°W) or three years (65.5°N, 38.0°W) of passive acoustic recordings. Seven marine mammal species were recorded. Bearded seals were acoustically dominant during winter and spring, whereas sperm, humpback, and fin whales dominated during the sea ice-free summer and autumn. Narwhals, bowhead, and killer whales were recorded only rarely. Song-fragments of humpback whales and acoustic presence of fin whales in winter suggest mating-associated behavior taking place in the area. Ambient noise levels in 1/3-octave level bands (20, 63, 125, 500, 1000, and 4000 Hz), ranged between 75.6 to 105 dB re 1 μPa. This study provides multi-year insights into the coastal marine mammal community composition off Southeast Greenland and suggests that the Tasiilaq area provides suitable habitat for various marine mammal species year-round.

Distinct gut microbiomes in two polar bear subpopulations inhabiting different sea ice ecoregions

Franz, M., L. Whyte, T.C. Atwood, K.L. Laidre, D.Roy, S.E. Watson, E. Gongora, and M.A. McKinney, "Distinct gut microbiomes in two polar bear subpopulations inhabiting different sea ice ecoregions," Sci. Rep., 12, doi:10.1038/s41598-021-04340-2, 2022.

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11 Jan 2022

Gut microbiomes were analyzed by 16S rRNA gene metabarcoding for polar bears (Ursus maritimus) from the southern Beaufort Sea (SB), where sea ice loss has led to increased use of land-based food resources by bears, and from East Greenland (EG), where persistent sea ice has allowed hunting of ice-associated prey nearly year-round. SB polar bears showed a higher number of total (940 vs. 742) and unique (387 vs. 189) amplicon sequence variants and higher inter-individual variation compared to EG polar bears. Gut microbiome composition differed significantly between the two subpopulations and among sex/age classes, likely driven by diet variation and ontogenetic shifts in the gut microbiome. Dietary tracer analysis using fatty acid signatures for SB polar bears showed that diet explained more intrapopulation variation in gut microbiome composition and diversity than other tested variables, i.e., sex/age class, body condition, and capture year. Substantial differences in the SB gut microbiome relative to EG polar bears, and associations between SB gut microbiome and diet, suggest that the shifting foraging habits of SB polar bears tied to sea ice loss may be altering their gut microbiome, with potential consequences for nutrition and physiology.

Soundscape and ambient noise levels of the Arctic waters around Greenland

Ladegaard, M., and 8 others including K.L. Laidre, "Soundscape and ambient noise levels of the Arctic waters around Greenland," Sci. Rep., 11, doi:10.1038/s41598-021-02255-6, 2021.

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3 Dec 2021

A longer Arctic open water season is expected to increase underwater noise levels due to anthropogenic activities such as shipping, seismic surveys, sonar, and construction. Many Arctic marine mammal species depend on sound for communication, navigation, and foraging, therefore quantifying underwater noise levels is critical for documenting change and providing input to management and legislation. Here we present long-term underwater sound recordings from 26 deployments around Greenland from 2011 to 2020. Ambient noise was analysed in third octave and decade bands and further investigated using generic detectors searching for tonal and transient sounds. Ambient noise levels partly overlap with previous Arctic observations, however we report much lower noise levels than previously documented, specifically for Melville Bay and the Greenland Sea. Consistent seasonal noise patterns occur in Melville Bay, Baffin Bay and Greenland Sea, with noise levels peaking in late summer and autumn correlating with open water periods and seismic surveys. These three regions also had similar tonal detection patterns that peaked in May/June, likely due to bearded seal vocalisations. Biological activity was more readily identified using detectors rather than band levels. We encourage additional research to quantify proportional noise contributions from geophysical, biological, and anthropogenic sources in Arctic waters.

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In The News

How to count polar bears

The New York Times Magazine, Malia Wollan

Get an aerial vantage. If you spot fresh tracks, follow them until you find an animal.

15 Feb 2022

'Hey, boys, you've got to keep it down': In Ballard, noisy sea lions are a real scene

Seattle Times, David Gutman

California sea lions are usually observed in Puget Sound between fall and spring. According to Laidre, "They are hanging out in what is probably a calm spot with access to some good fish before they head south for mating season in the spring. Sea lions are well known for being very mobile and will basically go wherever the conditions suit them."

22 Jan 2022

'Sea unicorns' are especially sensitive to human noise

Science, Megan Kalomiris

Study finds ship engine sounds may be hurting narwhals in the Arctic.

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22 Dec 2021

Kristin Laidre comments that the study shows how sensitive narhwals are to noise made by humans.

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Acoustics Air-Sea Interaction & Remote Sensing Center for Environmental & Information Systems Center for Industrial & Medical Ultrasound Electronic & Photonic Systems Ocean Engineering Ocean Physics Polar Science Center