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Aaron Carlisle - University of Delaware. Lewes, DE, US

Aaron Carlisle

Assistant Professor, Marine Science and Policy | University of Delaware


Prof. Carlisle research focuses on how the environment and organismal biology interact to influence the ecology of species.






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Cookiecutter shark diets with Dr. Aaron Carlisle


Dr. Carlisle joined the University of Delaware in 2018 as Assistant Professor of Fisheries Ecology. His research focuses on how the abiotic and biotic environment and organismal biology interact to influence the behavior, distribution and ecology of species, and how these interactions impact their population dynamics, life history strategies, and ecosystem roles. He uses a variety of approaches and technologies, such as stable isotope analysis and biologging, combined in new ways to provide unique insights into marine species.

Dr. Carlisle is a graduate of Stanford University (Ph.D.), Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (M.S.), and Princeton University (A.B.). He is a member of the IUCN Shark Specialist Group and serves on the board of directors of the American Elasmobranch Society.

Industry Expertise (2)



Areas of Expertise (5)

Stable Isotope Ecology

Evolutionary Biology

Physiological Ecology

Marine Fishes

Biological Sciences

Media Appearances (5)

Mystery of Tuna Covered in Strange Round Holes Explained

Newsweek  online


Fish are made easy pickings for cookie-cutter sharks when they are on fishing lines, Aaron B. Carlisle, a shark biologist at the University of Delaware, told Newsweek.

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Social Sand Tiger Sharks

University of Delaware UDaily  online


Other co-authors from UD included Matthew Breece, an alumnus and now project scientist who’s doctoral research focused on studying Atlantic sturgeon in the Mid-Atlantic, and Aaron Carlisle, assistant professor in the School of Marine Science and Policy. UD alumna Danielle Haulsee, now a research scientist at Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station who’s doctoral research focused on sand tiger behavior and migration in the Mid-Atlantic, was also involved.

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Partnership to produce oyster larvae would be a Delaware first

Cape Gazette  online


Looking to meet the growing demands of local shellfish farmers, the University of Delaware, Delaware State University and Delaware Sea Grant are teaming up to build a shellfish hatchery in Lewes. It would be the first of its kind in Delaware.

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Study shows cookie cutter sharks have wider diet than previously thought

Sharkophile  online


A new study led by the University of Delaware’s Aaron Carlisle has uncovered that while Cookiecutter sharks might chomp on everything they can get their jaws on in the upper reaches of ocean to supplement their diets, they primarily feed on crustaceans, squid and small fish.

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Tracking Large Ocean Animals Could Change How We Manage Them

Forbes  online


"We’re interested in effectively managing marine resources and conserving threatened species, but how do you do that when they’re spending so much time in the open ocean and moving across jurisdictional boundaries?" says Dr. Aaron Carlisle, assistant professor of marine biosciences at the University of Delaware and co-author of this study.

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Articles (5)

Multi-taxa marine isoscapes provide insight into large-scale trophic dynamics in the North Pacific

Progress in Oceanography

2023 Quantifying large scale trophic dynamics and interactions in marine systems remains a key challenge in ecological research and conservation, particularly in remote habitats which are difficult and costly to access. Stable isotope (SI) analysis has emerged as an effective tool for studying ecosystem interactions, especially when used to construct isotopic landscapes, or “isoscapes”.

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Using pseudo-absence models to test for environmental selection in marine movement ecology: the importance of sample size and selection strength

Movement Ecology

2022 Understanding the selection of environmental conditions by animals requires knowledge of where they are, but also of where they could have been. Presence data can be accurately estimated by direct sampling, sightings, or through electronic tag deployments. However, absence data are harder to determine because absences are challenging to measure in an uncontrolled setting.

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Remote Sensing and Marine Animal Tags: How Much Data is Needed to Detect Environmental Selection in Marine Predators?

AGU Fall Meeting 2022

2022 Understanding the selection of environmental conditions by marine predators requires knowledge of where they are, but also of where they are not. Tracking marine organisms is challenging because animals can only be detected when they are at the surface.

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The sociality of Atlantic sturgeon and sand tiger sharks in an estuarine environment

Animal Behaviour

2022 Social network analyses are used by ecologists to examine the various drivers of animal social structures. While social behaviours are found throughout the animal kingdom, their roles in structuring marine communities are poorly understood. Comparisons of sociality across marine fishes in the same location and time are rare.

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Assessing the Capacity of Pelagic Sharks to Serve as Ocean Observing Platforms in the Mid-Atlantic Bight and Beyond


2022 The use of marine animals as ocean observing platforms (OOPs) has been identified by scientists and managers as having the ability to significantly improve existing oceanographic models and data resources. As OOPs, animals are fit with oceanographic sensors with the capacity to measure in situ temperature and conductivity with an accuracy comparable to ship-based conductivity-temperature-depth (CTD) casts or autonomous drifters.

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Research Grants (2)

Characterizing the ecological role of apex predators in the Delaware Bay Ecosystem and their potential impacts on managed species

Delaware Sea Grant 


Development of a new biologging tag to record in-situ oxygen use of fish in the wild

University of Delaware Research Foundation Strategic Initiative Grant 


Accomplishments (2)

Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation Early Career Travel Award (professional)


American Society of Ichthyologists & Herpetologists Student Travel Award (professional)


Education (3)

Stanford University: PhD, Biological Sciences 2012

San Jose State University/Moss Landing Marine Laboratories: MSc, Marine Science 2006

Princeton University: BA, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology 1999

Affiliations (6)

  • American Fisheries Society
  • American Elasmobranch Society
  • International Bio-logging Society
  • Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation
  • Western Society of Naturalists
  • Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society

Event Appearances (3)

New insights into the trophic ecology of the Cookie Cutter Shark from stable isotope analysis and environmental DNA

American Fisheries Society  Atlantic City, NJ

Does ENSO Drive Changes in the Trophic Ecology of Juvenile Market Squid?

American Fisheries Society  Atlantic City, NJ

Niche partitioning and variability in resource use in mesopredators in BIOT

Fondation Bertarelli Marine Science Symposium  London, UK