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Jesse Senko

Asst Research Professor
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 5603
Affiliate Global Futures Scholar
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 5603
Asst Research Professor
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 5603

Jesse Senko is an Assistant Research Professor and Senior Sustainability Scientist at Arizona State University. His research links ecology and animal behavior with management and policy to address dynamic coastal conservation challenges of the 21st century. He is particularly interested in innovative approaches that protect vulnerable marine megafauna (e.g. sea turtles, sharks, and marine mammals) as well as safeguard the health and wellbeing of coastal fisheries and the billions of people who depend on them. Senko partners with scientists, fishers, engineers, NGOs, and governments to develop, test, and implement scalable conservation solutions that reduce bycatch of protected species (especially sea turtles) while ensuring coastal livelihoods. His research has been published in leading ecology, conservation, and policy journals as well as featured in The New York Times, National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Reuters, NPR, The Economist, Bloomberg, Forbes, Science, and elsewhere. An avid recreational fisher who grew up in New England, Senko majored in fisheries and wildlife sciences at the University of Connecticut, received his master's in wildlife ecology and conservation from the University of Florida, and earned his Ph.D. in biology from Arizona State University.

  • PhD, Biology, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
  • MSc, Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
  • BSc, Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
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Research Interests: 

Interdisciplinary conservation science; ecological & socioeconomic sustainability of fisheries & seafood; conservation technology & innovation; marine megafauna ecology & conservation (especially marine turtles); animal behavior & sensory ecology; community-based conservation; human dimensions of conservation; environmental policy; participatory learning

Research Group: 

My research and teaching program trains the next generation of conservation leaders while leading transdisciplinary investigations to develop and test conservation solutions that protect marine megafauna as well as coastal fisheries and the billions of people who depend on them. I lead field and lab based research projects in the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean regions:

  • Baja California Sur, Mexico: I have been partnering with fisher leaders at Baja California Sur, Mexico since 2004 to co-develop responsible fishing solutions to reduce bycatch of sea turtles, sharks, and other non-target species while maintaining fisher livelihoods, including developing and testing modified fishing gear. 
  • St. Lucie Power Plant, Jensen Beach, FL, USA: My research at this field site examines behavioral responses of sea turtles to various sensory cues as well as bycatch reduction technologies and fishing gear. Due to the large number of sea turtles captured at the St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant and it’s facility with large entrainment canals and tanks, this study site allows us to conduct controlled trials quickly and efficiently. Our experimental approach has the potential to contribute to “fine tuning” of bycatch reduction techniques. By having a detailed understanding of sea turtle behavior, including attraction, avoidance, and detection, in relation to fishery hazards along with potential deterrents, we will be able to inform the development of improved solutions that effectively reduce sea turtle bycatch. 
  • Trinidad and Tobago: My research at this field site seeks to develop and test bycatch reduction technologies to reduce leatherback turtle bycatch in coastal net fisheries on the island of Trinidad, which supports among the world’s largest leatherback turtle nesting aggregations. 

Collaborators: ‡international, #domestic, **undergraduate student mentored, *graduate student mentored, +fisher/citizen scientist

  • Senko JF, ‡Peckham SH, Aguilar-Ramirez D, #Wang JH (2022) Net illumination reduces fisheries bycatch, maintains catch value, and increases operational efficiency. Current Biology 32: 911-918. 
  • **Reavis JL, Mejías-Balsalobre C, Naranjo I, Arauz R, Rojas-Cañizales D, Senko JF (2022) Dynamics of human take and animal predation on sea turtle nests in Northwest Costa Rica. PeerJ 10:e12925.
  • #Gaos AR, **Johnson CE, +McLeish DB, King CS, Senko JF (2021) Interactions among Hawaiian hawksbills suggest prevalence of social behaviors in marine turtles. Chelonian Conservation and Biology 20: 167-172. 
  • *Reavis JL, Seckin H, #Witherington B, #Bresette M, Blain Christen J, Senko JF, Ozev S (2021) Revealing sea turtle behavior in relation to fishing gear using color-coded spatiotemporal motion patterns with deep neural networks. Frontiers in Marine Science 8:785357.
  • Senko JF, Nalovic MA (2021) Addressing sea turtle bycatch in developing countries: A global challenge that requires adaptive solutions for the 21st century. In: B. Nahill (Ed.), Sea Turtle Research and Conservation: Lessons From Working In The Field; Academic Press, pp. 151–165.
  • Senko JF, Nelms SE, **Reavis JL, #Witherington B, ‡Godley BJ, #Wallace BP (2020) Understanding individual and population-level effects of plastic pollution on marine megafauna. Endangered Species Research 43: 234-252. 
  • Senko JF, ‡Megill WM, Brooks LB, **Templeton RP, ‡Koch V (2019) Developing low-cost tags: Assessing the ecological impacts of tethered tag technology on host species. Endangered Species Research 39: 255-268.
  • Senko J, Jenkins LD, ‡Peckham SH (2017) At loggerheads over international bycatch: initial effects of a unilaterally imposed bycatch reduction policy. Marine Policy 76: 200-209.
  • ‡Peckham SH, +Lucero-Romero  J, ‡Maldonado-Diaz D, +Rodriguez A, Senko J, Wojakowski M, Gaos A (2016) Buoyless nets reduce sea turtle bycatch in coastal net fisheries. Conservation Letters 9: 114-121.
  • Badingqiuying, Smith AT, Senko J, Siladan M (2016) Plateau pika poisoning campaign reduces carnivore abundance in southern Qinghai, China. Mammal Study 41: 1-8.
  • Senko J, ‡Mancini A, #Seminoff JA, ‡Koch V (2014) Bycatch and directed harvest drive high green turtle mortality at Baja California Sur, Mexico. Biological Conservation 169: 24-30.
  • Senko J, **White ER, Heppell SS, Gerber LR (2014) Comparing bycatch mitigation strategies for vulnerable marine megafauna. Animal Conservation 17: 5-18.
  • Senko J, Schneller AJ, +Solis J, Ollervides F, #Nichols WJ (2011) People helping turtles, turtles helping people: understanding resident attitudes towards sea turtle conservation and opportunities for enhanced community participation in Bahia Magdalena, Mexico. Ocean & Coastal Management 54: 148-157.
  • ‡Mancini A, Senko J, Borquez-Reyes R, Guzman Poo J, #Seminoff JA, ‡Koch V (2011) To poach or not to poach an endangered species: elucidating the economic and social drivers behind illegal sea turtle hunting in Baja California Sur, Mexico. Human Ecology 39: 743-756.
  • Frick MG, Zardus JD, Ross A, Senko J, Montano-Valdez D, Bucio-Pacheco M, Sosa-Conejos I (2011) Novel records and observations of the barnacle Stephanolepas muricata (Cirripedia:Balanomorpha: Coronuloidea); including a case for chemical mediation in turtle and whale barnacles. Journal of Natural History 45: 629-640.
  • Senko J, ‡Koch V, ‡Megill WM, Carthy RR, **Templeton RP, #Nichols WJ (2010) Fine scale daily movements and habitat use of East Pacific green turtles at a shallow coastal lagoon in Baja California Sur, Mexico. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 391: 92-100.
  • Senko J, Lopez-Castro M, ‡Koch V, #Nichols WJ (2010) Immature East Pacific green turtles (Chelonia mydas) use multiple foraging areas off the Pacific Coast of Baja California Sur, Mexico: first evidence from mark-recapture data. Pacific Science 64: 125-130. 
  • Senko J, #Nichols WJ, Ross JP, Willcox AS (2010) To eat or not to eat an endangered species: views of local residents and physicians on the safety of sea turtle consumption in northwestern Mexico. EcoHealth 6: 584-595.     
Research Activity: 

Collaborators: ‡international, #domestic, +fisher/citizen scientist

  • PI: Senko JF; Collaborator: ‡Mancini A; NOAA Technical Advisor: #Wang J; “Developing and testing innovative bycatch reduction technologies in Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States”. Disney Conservation Fund; October 2021 – October 2023; $50,000 (share of budget: $50,000, 100%). 
  • PI: #Seminoff JA; Co-PIs: Senko JF; #Wallace BP; ‡Mancini A. This grant is intended to enhance U.S.-Mexico North Pacific loggerhead turtle and East Pacific leatherback turtle recovery through bycatch reduction efforts, related to the USMCA Environment Monitoring and Enforcement Activities 24.8, 24.18, and 24.19. I will be leading the “Develop and/or implement technologies identified during community and fisher engagement for artisanal fishing fleets based out of participating communities” component of the project as a subcontract distributed by the Department of Commerce, NOAA Fisheries ‘ National Marine Fisheries Service, which includes oversight and coordination of the budget component for bycatch technology research; June 2021 – June 2024; $1,418,000 (share of budget: $341,208, 24%). 
  • PI: Senko JF; Co-PIs: Wallace BP; Witherington B; NOAA Technical Advisors: #Wang J; Gearhart J; “Developing and testing innovative solutions to reduce leatherback turtle bycatch in Trinidad and Tobago”. National Fish and Wildlife Foundation; May 2020 – April 2022; $102,083.50 (share of budget: 102,083.50, 100%).
  • PI: Senko JF; “Disney Conservation Fund 25th Anniversary ‘Earth Day 50’ at Animal Kingdom Celebration”; gift for excellence in conservation research and outreach; April 2020; $20,000.
  • PI: Senko JF; Collaborator: ‡Mancini A; NOAA Technical Advisor: #Wang J; “Developing renewable-powered illuminated nets to reduce sea turtle, shark, and manta ray bycatch in coastal net fisheries”. Disney Conservation Fund; October 2019 – October 2021; $50,000 (share of budget: $50,000, 100%).
  • PI: Senko JF; “Testing solar-powered net illumination to reduce sea turtle bycatch in net fisheries at Baja California Sur, Mexico”. World Wildlife Fund; August – December 2019; $16,902 (share of budget: $16,902, 100%).
  • PI: Blain Christen J; Co-PIs: Senko J; Ozev S; Collaborators: #Wang J; ‡Mancini A; “Machine learning enabled “Smart Nets” to optimize technology for sustainable fisheries.” National Science Foundation Cyber Physical Systems; September 2018 – September 2021; $1,000,000 (share of budget: $340,000; 34%).
  • PI: Senko J; Co-PI: Bowden S; Collaborator: ‡Mancini A; NOAA Technical Advisor: #Wang J; “Developing renewable-powered fisheries solutions to reduce sea turtle bycatch in gillnet fisheries”. National Fish and Wildlife Foundation; September 2018 – October 2019; $75,000 (share of budget: $75,000, 100%). 
  • PI: Senko J; Co-PI: Bowden S; Collaborator: ‡Mancini A; NOAA Technical Advisor: #Wang J; “Developing solar-powered illuminated nets to reduce sea turtle and elasmobranch bycatch in gillnet fisheries”. Disney Conservation Fund; October 2017 – October 2019; $50,000  (share of budget: $50,000, 100%). 
Spring 2022
Course NumberCourse Title
SOS 492Honors Directed Study
FIS 494Special Topics
BIO 495Undergraduate Research
Fall 2021
Course NumberCourse Title
FIS 194Special Topics
SOS 493Honors Thesis
BIO 496Undergraduate Thesis
Spring 2021
Course NumberCourse Title
BIO 394Special Topics
SOS 492Honors Directed Study
BIO 495Undergraduate Research
Fall 2020
Course NumberCourse Title
FIS 194Special Topics
SOS 493Honors Thesis
Spring 2020
Course NumberCourse Title
SOS 492Honors Directed Study
SOS 493Honors Thesis
FSE 494Special Topics
FIS 494Special Topics
Fall 2019
Course NumberCourse Title
FIS 194Special Topics
Spring 2019
Course NumberCourse Title
FSE 494Special Topics
FIS 494Special Topics
Honors / Awards: 
  • 2017 Arizona State University Graduate College Knowledge Mobilization Impact Award; 1st place, postdoctoral category
  • Review Editor, Frontiers in Marine Science; 2021 – present
  • Associate Editor, Herpetological Conservation & Biology; 2016 – present
  • Assistant Editor, Herpetological Conservation & Biology; 2011 – 2015
Professional Associations: 
  • Member, IUCN Marine Turtle Specialist Group; 2022 – present