Dr Lucia Martina Martin Lopez

Dr Lucia Martina Martin Lopez
Research Fellow


My study area, biomechanics and bioenergetics of diving marine mammals, lies at the intersection of a number of fields within biology as well as incorporating ideas from engineering and physics. I have developed several methods to study the fine-scale biomechanics and energetics of marine mammals using multi-sensor tags. However, these methods have broad application to understanding gaits, locomotion and energetics of many marine and terrestrial taxa. My interest in understanding how animals overcome and exploit forces to move efficiently led me to study the biomechanical strategies of cetacean locomotion. I believe that it is by combining biomechanical and physiological avenues of research that will lead to a better understanding of animal locomotion capabilities.

During my PhD:

  • I developed a simple and robust method that allows for more accurate studies of the fine scale kinematics and energetics of swimming animals. This method combines magnetometer and accelerometer on-animal sensor data gathered with DTAGS to identify and separate orientation and thrust force. I validated this method with a gyroscope sensor showing that magnetometers offer a low-power alternative than gyroscopes for miniature tags - thus enabling longer term deployments.
  • I applied this method to study in detail the biomechanics of beaked whales which perform foraging dives up to 1500 m deep and last 1-2 h. I discovered that the production of a fast gait at the end of long dives may involve the recruitment of fast-twitch fibers, prolonging foraging time at depth, when oxygen stores are nearing exhaustion. This has strong implications for our interpretation of why these species are so sensitive to sound, and may even strand due to their response.
  • I also developed a new and robust technique to estimate animal energy expenditure independently of the animal’s body size and account for changes in speed, for the first time, allowing cross-species and cross-behaviours comparisons. Using a DTAG data set from 11 free-ranging cetacean species covering a 3000:1 mass range, I provided the first existent empirical support for the theoretical prediction that mass-specific force production decreases with increasing body mass as mass-1/3.
  • I developed a hydrodynamic model that allows the estimation of relative diving lung volume. By applying this method I show that beaked whales adjust their diving lung volume by inhaling less air during shorter-shallower dives than during deep-long dives. This method could be used to identify whether or not beaked whales change their intended dive depth (e.g., switch from a shallow to a deep dive) due to anthropogenic sound exposures.

source: symbiosis


5 (of 5 /dk/atira/pure/researchoutput/status/published available) for lmml2. (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
Tracking the kinematics of caudal-oscillatory swimming Lucía Martina Martín López, Natacha Aguilar de Soto, Patrick Miller, Mark Johnson
Journal of Experimental Biology 2016 vol. 219 pp. 2103-2109
Beaked whales B-stroke for long dives Lucía Martina Martín López
First indications that northern bottlenose whales are sensitive to behavioural disturbance from anthropogenic noise Patrick Miller, P H Kvadsheim, F P A Lam, Peter Lloyd Tyack, C Cure, Stacy Lynn De Ruiter, L Kleivane, L D Sivle, S P van IJsselmuide, F Visser, Paul Wensveen, A M von Benda-Beckmann, Lucía Martina Martín López, Tomoko Narazaki, Sascha Kate Hooker
Royal Society Open Science 2015 vol. 2
Gait switches in deep-diving beaked whales Lucía Martina Martín López, Patrick Miller, Natacha Aguilar de Soto, Mark Johnson
Journal of Experimental Biology 2015 vol. 218 pp. 1325-1338

Contact Details:

Dr Lucia Martina Martin Lopez
Scottish Oceans Institute
East Sands
University of St Andrews
St Andrews
KY16 8LB

tel: 01334 467206
room: 1.09


Sea Mammal Research Unit
School of Biology
Scottish Oceans Institute

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The Secretary
Scottish Oceans Institute
Institiud Chuantan na h-Alba
Gatty Marine Laboratory
East Sands St Andrews
KY16 8LB

tel: +44 (0) 1334 463472
fax: +44 (0) 1334 463443