Marc Mangel to chair special committee on seals

Marc Mangel, professor and chair of applied mathematics and statistics, has been appointed chairperson of a committee that advises the British government on the status of seal populations in British waters.

There are two seal populations in the United Kingdom--gray seals and common seals (also called harbor seals). According to Mangel, both populations have been increasing since conservation measures were enacted about 40 years ago. In recent years, however, the rate of increase has declined, and it is not clear what is causing the population growth to slow down.

"That is one of the issues we've wrestled with on the committee," Mangel said.

As a mathematical biologist, Mangel brings the tools of mathematics and theoretical biology to bear on practical problems in conservation and fisheries management. He has served on the Special Committee on Seals for three years, and will serve as chairperson for another three years. The committee advises the Natural Environment Research Council, which reports to Parliament on the status of seal populations and any conservation efforts that are needed.