Dr Saana Isojunno
Research Fellow

source: symbiosis

Research Overview:

I’m a behavioural ecologist with a keen interest in predator-prey interactions and foraging energetics. I use on-animal sensors and time series models to quantify activity states, time budgets and proxy locomotion costs of free-ranging animals. I’m particularly interested in the drivers of individual responsiveness and vulnerability to environmental uncertainty and anthropogenic disturbance (conservation behaviour).

For my PhD and postdoctoral research so far I’ve focused on how and why cetaceans respond to whale-watching and navy sonar, using bioacoustics and biologging as tools. I’m currently working in Prof Patrick Miller’s lab as the named postdoc under two projects:

"Interpreting the biological significance of behavior associated with 3S experimental sonar exposures". For this project, I estimated activity-time budgets to contrast the magnitude of foraging time trade-offs under simulated predation risk (playback of mammal-eating killer whale sounds) and exposure to anthropogenic noise (1-2kHz navy sonar) in a comparative study across four different cetacean species. The state-switching model development was funded by the Mocha project (PIs Catriona Harris and Len Thomas) which aimed to showcase hidden Markov models as a method to integrate multiple streams of sparse time series data in behavioural response studies. I’m also investigating whether respiratory behaviour detected from onboard tag sensors can be linked to diving behaviour and indicate any energetic or physiological cost of behavioural responses to sound exposures.

"3S3 – Behavioural responses of sperm whales to naval sonar – Comparing responses to continuous active sonar (CAS) and pulsed active sonar (PAS), and disentangling received level from range as the response driver". I will lead two core deliverables for this project: contrast activity time trade-offs and response duration to CAS vs PAS exposures, and test hypotheses about masking of terminal echolocation sounds (buzzes).

On the field, I have worked with a range of cetacean species (harbour porpoise, sperm whale, pilot whale, northern bottlenose and humpback whale). My roles have included survey design, tagging (ARTS and cantilever pole), and working as a DTAG and acoustic technician.

In the future, I hope to integrate more individual-level traits (e.g. age-sex) and ecophysiology in my research to better understand individual and species behavioural plasticity to cope with anthropogenic stressors. For example, I was very excited to be a part of a team to estimate body density as a proxy for body condition from accelerometer data of  gliding beaked whales. I developed models in a hierarchical Bayesian framework to simultaneously estimate tissue vs. air density using expected hydrodynamic relationships between acceleration, drag and buoyancy forces (Miller et al., 2016).

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch  – I would be especially interested in ideas for collaborations across disciplines.


20 (of 20 /dk/atira/pure/researchoutput/status/published available) for si66 (source: University of St Andrews PURE)
Please click title of any item for full details

When the noise goes on Saana Isojunno, Paul Wensveen, Frans-Peter Lam, Petter Kvadsheim, Alexander M. von Brenda-Beckmann, Lucía Martina Martín López, Lars Kleivane, Patrick Miller
Journal of Experimental Biology 2020 vol. 223
Evidence for discrimination between feeding sounds of familiar fish and unfamiliar mammal-eating killer whale ecotypes by long-finned pilot whales Charlotte Curé, Saana Isojunno, Heike I Vester, Fleur Visser, Machiel Oudejans, Nicoletta Biassoni, Mathilde Massenet, Lucie Barluet de Beauchesne, Paul Wensveen, Lise D Sivle, Peter Lloyd Tyack, Patrick Miller
Animal Cognition 2019 vol. 22 pp. 863-882
Northern bottlenose whales in a pristine environment respond strongly to close and distant navy sonar signals Paul Wensveen, Saana Isojunno, Rune R. Hansen, Alexander M. Von Benda-beckmann, Lars Kleivane, Sander Van Ijsselmuide, Frans-peter A. Lam, Petter H. Kvadsheim, Stacy L. Deruiter, Charlotte Curé, Tomoko Narazaki, Peter Lloyd Tyack, Patrick Miller
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 2019 vol. 286
Predicting acoustic dose associated with marine mammal behavioural responses to sound as detected with fixed acoustic recorders and satellite tags A.M. von Benda-Beckmann, Paul Wensveen, M. Prior, M.A. Ainslie, R. R. Hansen, Saana Isojunno, F.P.A. Lam, P.H. Kvadsheim, Patrick Miller
Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 2019 vol. 145 pp. 1401-1416
Body density of humpback whales (Megaptera novaengliae) in feeding aggregations estimated from hydrodynamic gliding performance Tomoko Narazaki, Saana Isojunno, Douglas P. Nowacek, Ari S. Friedlaender, Christian Ramp, Sophie Caroline Smout, Kagari Aoki, Volker Bernt Deecke, Katsufumi Sato, Patrick Miller
PLoS ONE 2018 vol. 13
Breathing patterns indicate cost of exercise during diving and response to experimental sound exposures in long-finned pilot whales Saana Isojunno, Kagari Aoki, Charlotte Curé, Peter Kvadsheim, Patrick Miller
Frontiers in Physiology 2018 vol. 9
Hidden Markov models reveal complexity in the diving behaviour of short-finned pilot whales Saana Isojunno, Dina Sadykova, Matthew Bowers, Douglas P. Nowacek, Andrew J Read
Scientific Reports 2017 vol. 7
High diving metabolic rate indicated by high-speed transit to depth in negatively buoyant long-finned pilot whales Kagari Aoki, Katsufumi Sato, Saana Isojunno, Tomoko Narazaki, Patrick Miller
Journal of Experimental Biology 2017 vol. 220 pp. 3802-3811
Individual, ecological, and anthropogenic influences on activity budgets of long-finned pilot whales Saana Isojunno, Dinara Sadykova, Stacy Lynn De Ruiter, Charlotte Curé, Fleur Visser, Len Thomas, Patrick Miller, Catriona M Harris
Ecosphere 2017 vol. 8
Vocal foragers and silent crowds Fleur Visser, Annebelle C.M. Kok, Machiel G. Oudejans, Lindesay Alexandra Sarah Scott-Hayward, Stacy Lynn De Ruiter, Ana Catarina de Carvalho Alves, Ricardo Nuno Antunes, Saana Isojunno, Graham J. Pierce, Hans Slabbekoorn, Jef Huisman, Patrick Miller
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 2017 vol. 71
Biological significance of sperm whale responses to sonar: comparison with anti-predator responses Charlotte Curé, Saana Isojunno, Fleur Visser, Paul Wensveen, Lise D. Sivle, Petter H. Kvadsheim, Frans-Peter A. Lam, Patrick Miller
Endangered Species Research 2016 vol. 31 pp. 89-102
Body density and diving gas volume of the northern bottlenose whale (Hyperoodon ampullatus) Patrick Miller, Tomoko Narazaki, Saana Isojunno, Kagari Aoki, Sophie Caroline Smout, Katsufumi sato
Journal of Experimental Biology 2016 vol. 219 pp. 2458-2468
From physiology to policy Natacha Aguilar de Soto, Kalliopi Charitomeni Gkikopoulou, Sascha Kate Hooker, Saana Isojunno, Mark Johnson, Patrick Miller, Peter Lloyd Tyack, Paul Wensveen, Carl Robert Donovan, Catriona M Harris, Danielle Harris, Laura Helen Marshall, Cornelia Sabrina Oedekoven, Rocio Prieto, Len Thomas
Proceedings of Meetings on Acoustics 2016 vol. 27
Sperm whales reduce foraging effort during exposure to 1-2 kH z sonar and killer whale sounds Saana Isojunno, Charlotte Cure, Petter Helgevold Kvadsheim, Frans Peter Alexander Lam, Peter Lloyd Tyack, Paul Wensveen, Patrick Miller
Ecological Applications 2016 vol. 26 pp. 77-93
Predator sound playbacks reveal strong avoidance responses in a fight strategist baleen whale Charlotte Cure, Lise Doksaeter-Sivle, Fleur Visser, Paul Wensveen, Saana Isojunno, Catriona M Harris, Petter Kvadsheim, Frans-Peter Lam, Patrick Miller
Marine Ecology Progress Series 2015 vol. 526 pp. 267-282
Severity of expert-identified behavioural responses of humpback whale, minke whale, and northern bottlenose whale to naval sonar Lise D. Sivle, Petter H. Kvadsheim, Charlotte Cure, Saana Isojunno, Paul Wensveen, Frans-Peter A. Lam, Fleur Visser, Lars Kleivane, Peter Lloyd Tyack, Catriona M Harris, Patrick Miller
Aquatic Mammals 2015 vol. 41 pp. 469-502
Sperm whale response to tag boat presence Saana Isojunno, Patrick Miller
Ecosphere 2015 vol. 6
Harbour porpoise habitat preferences Saana Isojunno, Jason Matthiopoulos,
Marine Ecology Progress Series 2012 vol. 448 pp. 155-170

Contact Details:

Dr Saana Isojunno
Scottish Oceans Institute
East Sands
University of St Andrews
St Andrews
KY16 8LB



Centre for Research into Ecological & Environmental Modelling
Sea Mammal Research Unit
School of Biology
Scottish Oceans Institute

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