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Marine Sciences Division

John Vavrinec

John Vavrinec

Marine Sciences Laboratory
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
1529 West Sequim Bay Road
Sequim, Washington 98382


Dr. John Vavrinec is a senior research scientist with the Coastal Assessment and Restoration technical group at the Marine Sciences Laboratory (MSL) in Sequim. Most of Dr. Vavrinec’s research has been basic science applied to fisheries or habitat management in coastal and estuarine areas around the country. He has been trained as a marine ecologist and oceanographer, and he has extensive experience conducting field studies. This research experience includes studies on crab foraging and predation, sea urchin demographics and community interactions, larval ecology and transport, settlement and recruitment of flatfish and invertebrates, macroalgal associations, fish movements and behavior, coral reef monitoring, and the use of marine protected areas. More recently his research has focused on coastal and nearshore restoration projects and the impacts of anthropogenic activities on wild populations. Much of this research has required cooperation with many interest groups including harvesters, state and federal managers, and other researchers, which has given Dr. Vavrinec a unique approach to the environmental issues of our waterways. Dr. Vavrinec is also a MSL Research Diver. Dr. Vavrinec has been certified since 1991 and has logged over 1000 scientific research dives. These dives have been conducted in a variety of locations, including the Gulf of Maine, Mid-Atlantic coast including Chesapeake Bay, Mexico, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the Pacific Northwest. He has conducted research in shallow coastal waters as well as deeper offshore areas, and has even participated in some blue water experiments. Operationally, Dr. Vavrinec has been a research diver with educational institutions, government organizations, and private companies. He has extensive experience in a variety of research methods and approaches that allow for resource assessment, construction of experiments, photographic/videographic documentation, and underwater inspections/maintenance.

Research Interests

  • Applying basic ecology to management and conservation goals
  • Interdisciplinary approaches to understanding community and population dynamics
  • Subtidal community changes driven by natural and anthropogenic disturbance
  • The use and effectiveness of marine protected areas

Education and Credentials

  • 2003 Ph.D., Oceanography, University of Maine
  • 1992 B.S., Environmental & Forest Biology, SUNY College of Environmental-Science & Forestry
  • 1990 A.A., Liberal Arts Math & Science, SUNY, Stone Ridge

Affiliations and Professional Service

  • Diving and Boating Certifications
  • NOAA Working Diver
  • IANTD Advanced Nitrox
  • NPFVOA Vessel Safety Program
  • NAUI Master Diver
  • IANTD Deep Diver
  • 40 hr. Vessel Operation Training Program
  • YMCA Divermaster
  • TDI Rebreather Diver
  • YMCS SLAM Rescue Diver
  • SSI Open Water Diver
  • IANTD Nitrox
  • NOAA Small Boat Training

Awards and Recognitions

  • 2010 Outstanding Performance Award for unparalleled levels of teamwork within various PNNL organizations - attention to detail and safety.
  • 2011 Outstanding Performance Award for support on the Cumulative Effects Study.
  • 2011 Team Of The Year Award.

PNNL Publications


  • Thom R.M., J. Gaeckle, K.E. Buenau, A.B. Borde, J. Vavrinec, L.M. Aston, and D.L. Woodruff, et al. 2018. "Eelgrass (Zostera marina L.) Restoration in Puget Sound: Development of a Site Suitability Assessment Process." Restoration Ecology 26, no. 6:1066-1074. PNNL-SA-128364. doi:10.1111/rec.12702




  • Arntzen E.V., D.R. Geist, K.J. Murray, J. Vavrinec, E.M. Dawley, and D.E. Schwartz. 2009. "Influence of the Hyporheic Zone on Supersaturated Gas Exposure to Incubating Chum Salmon." North American Journal of Fisheries Management 29, no. 6:1714-1727. PNNL-SA-62788. doi:10.1577/M08-212.1
  • Arntzen E.V., K.D. Hand, K.M. Carter, D.R. Geist, K.J. Murray, E.M. Dawley, and V.I. Cullinan, et al. 2009. Total Dissolved Gas Effects on Incubating Chum Salmon Below Bonneville Dam. PNNL-18081. Richland, WA: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Total Dissolved Gas Effects on Incubating Chum Salmon Below Bonneville Dam
  • Diefenderfer H.L., K.L. Sobocinski, R.M. Thom, C.W. May, A.B. Borde, S.L. Southard, and J. Vavrinec, et al. 2009. "Multiscale Analysis of Restoration Priorities for Marine Shoreline Planning." Environmental Management 44, no. 4:712-731. PNWD-SA-8063. doi:10.1007/s00267-009-9298-4
  • Johnson G.E., H.L. Diefenderfer, A.B. Borde, E.M. Dawley, B.D. Ebberts, G.C. Roegner, and M.T. Russell, et al. 2009. Evaluating Cumulative Ecosystem Response to Restoration Projects in the Lower Columbia River and Estuary, 2008. PNNL-18677. Richland, WA: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Evaluating Cumulative Ecosystem Response to Restoration Projects in the Lower Columbia River and Estuary, 2008




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Marine Sciences Laboratory
1529 W. Sequim Bay Road
Sequim, WA 98382
Phone: (360) 683-4151
Fax: (360) 681-3699