Douglas Nowacek

Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Sound propagates very efficiently through sea water, and marine mammals take advantage of this medium to communicate and explore their environment. My research is focused on the link between acoustic and motor behavior in marine mammals, primarily cetaceans and manatees, specifically, how they use sound in ecological processes. The cetaceans, or whales and dolphins, are divided into two main groups, the toothed whales (odontocetes) and the baleen whales (mysticetes). One of my specific areas of research is the use of echolocation and foraging behavior in one of the odontocetes, the bottlenose dolphin. Another focus of my current research is the effect(s) of anthropogenic noise on marine mammals.

Appointments and Affiliations

  • Randolph K. Repass and Sally-Christine Rodgers University Distinguished Professor of Conservation Technology in Environment and Engineering
  • Professor in the Division of Marine Science and Conservation
  • Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Contact Information

  • Office Location: Duke Univ Marine Lab, 135 Duke Marine Lab Rd, Beaufort, NC 28516
  • Office Phone: +1 252 504 7566
  • Email Address: doug.nowacek@duke.edu
  • Websites:

Education

  • B.A. Ohio Wesleyan University, 1991
  • Ph.D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1999

Research Interests

Marine mammal behavioral and acoustic ecology
Ocean noise
Offshore renewable energy

Awards, Honors, and Distinctions

  • Sally Connally Hardie Visiting Researcher. University of St. Andrews, Scotland. 2018
  • Visiting Scholar. University of Tasmania. 2013

Courses Taught

  • ME 426: Ocean Engineering
  • MARSCI 394: Research Independent Study
  • MARSCI 393A: Research Independent Study
  • MARSCI 393: Research Independent Study
  • MARSCI 323A: Offshore Renewable Energy & Wildlife Conservation
  • MARSCI 280LA: Sound in the Sea: Introduction to Marine Bioacoustics
  • ENVIRON 899: Master's Project
  • ENVIRON 784LA: Sound in the Sea: Introduction to Marine Bioacoustics
  • ENVIRON 723A: Offshore Renewable Energy & Wildlife Conservation
  • ENVIRON 593: Independent Studies and Projects
  • ENVIRON 461: Ocean Engineering
  • ENVIRON 394A: Research Independent Study
  • ENVIRON 280LA: Sound in the Sea: Introduction to Marine Bioacoustics
  • ECS 280LA: Sound in the Sea: Introduction to Marine Bioacoustics
  • ECE 784LA: Sound in the Sea: Introduction to Marine Bioacoustics
  • ECE 590: Advanced Topics in Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • ECE 461: Ocean Engineering
  • ECE 392: Projects in Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • ECE 384LA: Sound in the Sea: Introduction to Marine Bioacoustics
  • BIOLOGY 784LA: Sound in the Sea: Introduction to Marine Bioacoustics
  • BIOLOGY 279LA: Sound in the Sea: Introduction to Marine Bioacoustics

In the News

Representative Publications

  • Allen, Jenny A., David E. Cade, Caroline B. Casey, Sarah Weindorf, David W. Johnston, Jacob M. J. Linsky, Jeremy A. Goldbogen, Doug P. Nowacek, and Ari S. Friedlaender. “Evidence of sociality and group foraging in Antarctic minke whales (Balaenoptera bonaerensis).” Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 78, no. 5 (May 2024). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-024-03481-4.
  • Roberts, J. J., T. M. Yack, E. Fujioka, P. N. Halpin, M. F. Baumgartner, O. Boisseau, S. Chavez-Rosales, et al. “North Atlantic right whale density surface model for the US Atlantic evaluated with passive acoustic monitoring.” Marine Ecology Progress Series 732 (March 20, 2024): 167–92. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps14547.
  • Cioffi, W. R., N. J. Quick, Z. T. Swaim, H. J. Foley, D. M. Waples, D. L. Webster, R. W. Baird, B. L. Southall, D. P. Nowacek, and A. J. Read. “Trade-offs in telemetry tag programming for deep-diving cetaceans: data longevity, resolution, and continuity.” Animal Biotelemetry 11, no. 1 (December 1, 2023). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40317-023-00334-1.
  • Lohmann, A. C., J. P. Morton, O. M. Schofield, and D. P. Nowacek. “Cyclical prey shortages for a marine polar predator driven by the interaction of climate change and natural climate variability.” Limnology and Oceanography 68, no. 12 (December 1, 2023): 2668–87. https://doi.org/10.1002/lno.12453.
  • Southall, B. L., G. P. Donovan, R. Racca, R. R. Reeves, A. I. Vedenev, D. W. Weller, and D. P. Nowacek. “Data collection and analysis methods to evaluate potential impacts of seismic surveys and other marine industrial activities on baleen whales.” Ocean and Coastal Management 245 (November 1, 2023). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2023.106799.