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Dr. Randall Wells

Senior Scientist, Program Manager

Sarasota Dolphin Research Program (SDRP)

Today's Research for Tomorrow's Oceans


Randall Wells is employed by the Chicago Zoological Society and based at Mote Marine Laboratory as the Director of the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program, “the world’s longest-running study of a dolphin population.” This study, initiated at Mote in 1970 and continued through a partnership involving Mote, CZS, and collaborators from around the world, examines the biology, behavior, ecology, health, and human impacts on dolphin populations in Florida and elsewhere, and engages in conservation research training, education, and mitigation activities.


Post-doctoral Fellowship in Biology, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution PhD in Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz
MS in Zoology, University of Florida BA in Zoology, University of South Florida

Current Publications

Schwacke, L. H., Thomas, L., Wells, R. S., Rowles, T. K., Bossart, G. D., Townsend Jr, F., Mazzoil, M., Allen, J. B., Balmer, B. C., Barleycorn, A. A., Barratclough, A., Burt, L., De Guise, S., Fauquier, D., Gomez, F. M., Kellar, N. M., Schwacke, J. H., Speakman, T. R., Stolen, E. D., Quigley, B. M., Zolman, E. S., Smith, C. R. (2023). An expert-based system to predict population survival rate from health data. Conservation biology, e14073.
Jensen Havmand, F., Wolters, P., van Zeeland, L., Morrison, E., Ermi, G., Smith, S., Tyack, P. L., Wells, R. S., McKennoch, S., Janik, V. M., Sayigh, L. S. (2023). Automatic Deep-Learning-Based Classification of Bottlenose Dolphin Signature Whistles. The Effects of Noise on Aquatic Life, 1-12.
Longden, EG; Gillespie D; Mann, DA; McHugh, KA; Rycyk, AM; Wells, RS; Tyack, PL (2022). Comparison of the marine soundscape before and during the COVID-19 pandemic in dolphin habitat in Sarasota Bay, FL. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 152(6), 3170-3185.
Moore, M. J., Lanagan, T. M., Wells, R. S., Kapit, J., Barleycorn, A. A., Allen, J. B., Baird, R. W., Braun, C. D., Skomal, G. B., Thorrold, S. R. (2024). Development of single-pin, un-barbed, pole-tagging of free-swimming dolphins and sharks with satellite-linked transmitters. Animal Biotelemetry, 12(6).
Cahill, B. V., Eckert, R. J., Bassos-Hull, K., Ostendorf, T. J., Voss, J. D., DeGroot, B. C., Ajemian, M. J. (2023). Diet and Feeding Ecology of the Whitespotted Eagle Ray (Aetobatus narinari) from Florida Coastal Waters Revealed via DNA Barcoding. Fishes, 8(8), 388.
Favilla, A. B., Adamczak, S. K., Fougeres, E. M., Brownlow, A., Davison, N. J., Mann, J., McLellan, W. A., Ann Pabst, D., ten Doeschate, M. T. I., Tift, M. S., Wells, R. S., Costa, D. P. (2024). Examining Bergmann’s rule in a cosmopolitan marine mammal, the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops spp.). Marine Mammal Science, e13130.
Taylor B. L., Abel, G., Bader, D., Barlow, J., Braulik, G., Cipriano, F., Collins, T., DeMaster, D., von Fersen, L., Gomez, F., Hao, Y., Miller, P. S., Minton, G., Reeves, R. R., Rojas-Bracho, L., Secchi, E. R., Smith, C. R., Suydam, R., Wang, D., Wells, R. S., and Zerbini, A. (2023). Integrated Conservation Planning for Cetaceans. The Zoological Garden, 91, 101-112.
Tyson Moore RB, Urian KW, Allen JB, Cush C, Parham JR, Blount D, Holmberg J, Thompson JW, Wells RS (2024). Rise of the Machines: Best Practices and Experimental Evaluation of Computer-Assisted Dorsal Fin Image Matching Systems for Bottlenose Dolphins. Frontiers in Marine Science, 9.0, 849813.

Additional Publications

For a complete list of publications, please visit PDF reprints are available upon request.

Recent publications:

Balmer, B., McDonald, T., Hornsby, F., Adams, J., Allen, J., Barleycorn, A., Clarke, P., Cush, C., Honaker, A., McHugh, K., Speakman, T., Wells, R., Schwacke, L. (2018). Long-term trends in a northern Gulf of Mexico common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) population in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. J. Cetacean Res. Manage., 18, 1-9.

Balmer, J.E., Ylitalo, G.M., Rowles, T.K., Mullin, K.D., Wells, R.S., Townsend, F.I., Pearce, R.W., Bolton, J.L., Zolman, E.S., Balmer, B.C., Schwacke, L.H. (2018). Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in blood and blubber of common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) at three northern Gulf of Mexico sites following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Science of The Total Environment, 621, 130-137. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.11.209

Desoubeaux, G., Le-Bert, C., Fravel, V., Clauss, T., Delaune, A.J., Soto, J., Jensen, E.D., Flower, J.E., Wells, R., Bossart, G.D., Cray, C. (2018). Evaluation of a genus-specific ELISA and a commercial Aspergillus Western blot IgG (R) immunoblot kit for the diagnosis of aspergillosis in common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). Med. Mycol., 56(7), 847-856. doi:10.1093/mmy/myx114

Desoubeaux, G., Peschke, R., Le-Bert, C., Fravel, V., Soto, J., Jensen, E.D., Flower, J.E., Wells, R., Joachim, A., Cray, C. (2018). Seroprevalence Survey for Microsporidia in Common Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus): Example of a Quantitative Approach Based on Immunoblotting. J. Wildl. Dis., 54(4), 870-873. doi:10.7589/2017-11-287

Fahlman, A., Jensen, F.H., Tyack, P.L., Wells, R.S. (2018). Modeling Tissue and Blood Gas Kinetics in Coastal and Offshore Common Bottlenose Dolphins, Tursiops truncatus. Front. Physiol., 9(Article 838) doi:10.3389/fphys.2018.00838

Fahlman, A., McHugh, K., Allen, J., Barleycorn, A., Allen, A., Sweeney, J., Stone, R., Trainor, R.F., Bedford, G., Moore, M.J., Jensen, F.H., Wells, R. (2018). Resting Metabolic Rate and Lung Function in Wild Offshore Common Bottlenose Dolphins, Tursiops truncatus, Near Bermuda. Front. Physiol., 9, 886. doi:10.3389/fphys.2018.00886

Galligan, T.M., Schwacke, L.H., Houser, D.S., Wells, R.S., Rowles, T., Boggs, A.S.P. (2018). Characterization of circulating steroid hormone profiles in the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Gen. Comp. Endocrinol., 263, 80-91. doi:10.1016/j.ygcen.2018.04.003

Hart, L.B., Beckingham, B., Wells, R.S., Flagg, A., M., Wischusen, K., Moors, A., Wirth, E. (2018). Urinary Phthalate Metabolites in Common Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) From Sarasota Bay, FL, USA. GeoHealth, 2(10), 313-326. doi:10.1029/2018GH000146

Lauderdale, L.K., Messinger, C., Wells, R.S., Mitchell, K.A., Messinger, D., Stacey, R., Miller, L.J. (2018). Advancing the use of morphometric data for estimating and managing common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) mass. Marine Mammal Science. 00(00), 1-18. doi:10.1111/mms.12568

Le-Bert, C.R., Smith, C.R., Poindexter, J., Ardente, A., Meegan, J., Wells, R.S., Venn-Watson, S., Jensen, E.D., Sakhaee, K. (2018). Comparison of potential dietary and urinary risk factors for ammonium urate nephrolithiasis in two bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) populations. Am. J. Physiol.-Renal Physiol., 315(3), F231-F237. doi:10.1152/ajprenal.00606.2017
O'Hara, T.M., Templeton, M., Castellini, J.M., Wells, R., Beckmen, K., Berner, J. (2018). Use of Blood-soaked Cellulose Filter Paper for Measuring Carbon and Nitrogen Stable Isotopes. J. Wildl. Dis., 375-379. doi:10.7589/2017-08-202

Pirotta, E., Booth, C.G., Costa, D.P., Fleishman, E., Kraus, S.D., Lusseau, D., Moretti, D., New, L.F., Schick, R.S., Schwarz, L.K., Simmons, S.E., Thomas, L., Tyack, P.L., Weise, M.J., Wells, R.S., Harwood, J. (2018). Understanding the population consequences of disturbance. Ecol. Evol., 8(19), 9934-9946. doi:10.1002/ece3.4458

Pulis, E.E., Wells, R.S., Schorr, G.S., Douglas, D.C., Samuelson, M.M., Solangi, M. (2018). Movements and Dive Patterns of Pygmy Killer Whales (Feresa attenuata) Released in the Gulf of Mexico Following Rehabilitation. Aquat. Mamm., 44(5), 555-567. doi:10.1578/AM.44.5.2018.555

McHuron, E., McKenzie, J., McLeay, L., McMahon, C.R., Mengersen, K., Muelbert, M.M.C., Pagano, A.M., Page, B., Queiroz, N., Robinson, P.W., Shaffer, S.A., Shivji, M., Skomal, G.B., Thorrold, S.R., Villegas-Amtmann, S., Weise, M., Wells, R., Wetherbee, B., Wiebkin, A., Wienecke, B., Thums, M. (2018). Convergence of marine megafauna movement patterns in coastal and open oceans. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A., 115(12), 3072-3077. doi:10.1073/pnas.1716137115

Sprogis, K.R., Christiansen, F., Raudino, H.C., Kobryn, H.T., Wells, R.S., Bejder, L. (2018). Sex-specific differences in the seasonal habitat use of a coastal dolphin population. Biodiversity and Conservation, 27, 3637-3656. doi:10.1007/s10531-018-1618-7