Nils Olav Handegard

Telephone: 95854057


My research interests are application of new methodology and data processing methods to marine ecology and fisheries oceanography. I am interested in how we can use sensors to observe behavioral responses in fishes (~6 papers), and how to apply these techniques on the assessment of anthropogenic stressors on behavior and distribution of fish and zooplankton (~6 papers). I am also interested in how these behavioral changes may bias scientific surveys (~16 papers). I have an interest in behavioral ecology with an emphasis on the observing methods. This has led to several publications in theoretical and applied ecology (~8 papers). I also have an interest in machine learning and deep learning algorithms, and I have an interest in how these methods can be applied to ecology and fisheries oceanography (~4 paper). I have an interest in e-science, data management and data processing (~4 papers), and I have led projects and worked in close collaboration with our data center on data processing pipelines for fisheries advice and other advisory products.


I have leadership experience from international organizations as well IMR. I have been involved in the International Council for Exploration of the Sea (ICES) through a range of working groups, including leading the Fisheries Acoustics Science and Technology group (WGFAST) and the steering group overseeing ICES coordinated scientific surveys. I have been part of the science leadership group in the organization and have actively contributed to the ICES strategic plan. I am currently the Norwegian representative in the ICES Science committee. I have extensive project management experience, leading large interdisciplinary projects.

Curriculum Vitae


05.2013 – Ongoing

Principal Scientist, Institute of marine research, Bergen Norway, Norway


I continued working on acoustic methods, but with more emphasis towards e-science, including machine learning algorithms and data infrastructures to support scientific computing. I also took on several leadership positions in international organizations, and I was active in developing the previous ICES strategic plan. See my publication list for an overview of the science production.


01.2010 - 07.2010

Visiting scholar, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University

I worked with one of the best groups worldwide on collective behavior, and I used acoustic methods to extract schooling behavior and predator prey interactions using acoustics. This collaboration led to my most highly cited paper.


10.2007 - 12.2007

Acting Head of research group “Observation methodology”, Institute of Marine Research, Norway


11.2005 - 10.2006

Visiting Scientist, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, NOAA, Seattle, WA, USA

I worked on fish avoidance observations and I developed methods to track fish inside trawls using an acoustic camera. I also established strong links between IMR to NOAA.


11.2005 - 10.2006

Visiting Scholar, School of Oceanography, University of Washington, USA

I worked on algorithms to use split beam echosounders to observe fish in dense schools.


08.2004 - 04.2013

Research scientist, Institute of Marine Research, Norway

I worked on wide range of projects. Initially I focused mainly on how to observe biases in scientific surveys and developed data processing methods to extract fish behavioral information from acoustic data. See my publication list for an overview of the science production.


06.2001 - 08.2001

Young Scientists Summer Program, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Austria

A summer school project where I developed a quantitative genetics model for how fishing could lead to behavioral changes in cod.


08.2000 - 12.2000

Project Scientist, Nansensenteret

I worked as a project scientist at the “Fisheries Earth Observations and Prediction project. The main task was to manage automated data flows of large volumes of satellite data, as well as data analyzes.


02.1998 - 01.2000

ICT consultant, Institute of Marine Research, Norway (part time, full time summer 1998)

I worked on the Y2K problem and made an inventory of programs and service that could potentially be affected by the Y2K problem, including statements from vendors and service providers on Y2K compliance from their programs and services.




01.2001 - 06.2004

Dr. Scient. Applied mathematics, Institute of mathematics, University of Bergen, Norway

06.1997 - 01.2000

Cand. Scient. applied Mathematics, Universitetet i Bergen, Norway

08.1993 - 06.1996

Mechanical engineering, Sør-Trøndelag University College, Norway


2 MSc students and 4 PhD students.


Nominated to the best paper at the Institute of Marine Research 2013 (out if 3 papers): Handegard, N.O. et al. (2013) Towards an acoustic-based coupled observation and modelling system for monitoring and predicting ecosystem dynamics of the open ocean, Fish and Fisheries 14(4): 605-615, doi:10.1111/j.1467-2979.2012.00480.x

Co-author on the paper that won the best presentation at the 2010 ICES Annual Science Conference: Lehodey, P. et al. (2010). “Towards Operational Management Of Pelagic Ecosystems”, ICES CM 2010/A:04

Best paper at the Institute of Marine Research 2007: Ona, Egil and Godø, Olav Rune and Handegard, Nils Olav and Hjellvik, Vidar and Patel, Ruben and Pedersen, Geir (2007). "Silent research vessels are not quiet", J. Acoust. Soc. Am, Vol 121, JASA Express letters online

Best presentation at the 2004 ICES Annual Science Conference: Handegard, N.O. and Tjøstheim, D. "The effective swept volume of a bottom trawl", ICES CM 2004/R:07, ICES Annual Science conference, Vigo Sep 2004.


Board member in «Havforskerlaget», union for scientists (2018-ongoiing)
Norwegian representative in the ICES Science Committee (2012-ongoing)
Chair of the ICES SCICOM steering group on Ecosystem Surveys, Science and Technology (2012-2016)
Chair of the “MAAS group” in the Cliotop programme
Chair of the ICES Working Group on Fisheries Acoustics Science and Technology 2010-2013


I have led more than 15 projects at IMR, including both large and complex projects. I have received funding from the Ministry of fisheries and commerce, the Norwegian Research Council, Fiskerinæringens Havbruksfond, and EU Horizon 2020 program. I have led work packages in EU projects, and I have received a highly competitive FriPro grant from the Research Council of Norway.


Sea2Data 2010-2020, a project for improving the institutes’ infrastructure for data from scientific surveys. Funded by the Ministry of Fisheries and coastal affairs.

FriBio project “CollPen - Collective behaviour of penned herring: Observing the collective behaviour and investigating the effect of various sound stimuli” from 2011-2014. Funded by the highly competitive “FRIBIO” program at the Norwegian Research Council.

Strategic institute program “Adaptive management of living marine resources by integrating different data sources and key ecological processes (ADMAR): A joint effort by IMR and CEES” from 2010-2015. Funded by the Norwegian Research Council.

“Ecosystem dynamics and fish stocks (EcoFish) from 2007-2010. This is an interdisciplinary strategic institute program funded by the research council of Norway. Funded by the Norwegian Research Council.


I have 54 peer review publications in the primary literature, covering several fields including ecology, fisheries and acoustics. Several publications are in top journals within the respective fields, including Current Biology, Fish and Fisheries and The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. I have two highly cited papers in the field, one paper that won the best publication at IMR, and one that was nominated (1 out of 3) for the same price.


[54] Brautaset, O., Waldeland, A. U., Johnsen, E., Malde, K., Eikvil, L., Salberg, A.-B., & Handegard, N. O. (2020). Acoustic classification in multifrequency echosounder data using deep convolutional neural networks. ICES Journal of Marine Science.

[53] Myers, S. C., Thorsen, A., Smoliński, S., Godiksen, J. A., Malde, K., & Handegard, N. O. (2020). An efficient protocol and data set for automated otolith image analysis. Geoscience Data Journal, n/a(n/a).

[51] Fields, D. M., Handegard, N. O., Dalen, J., Eichner, C., Malde, K., Karlsen, Ø., … Browman, H. I. (2019). Airgun blasts used in marine seismic surveys have limited effects on mortality, and no sublethal effects on behaviour or gene expression, in the copepod Calanus finmarchicus. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 76(7), 2033–2044.

[50] Johnsen, E., Totland, A., Skålevik, Å., Holmin, A. J., Dingsør, G. E., Fuglebakk, E., & Handegard, N. O. (2019). StoX: An open source software for marine survey analyses. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 10(9), 1523–1528.

[49] Tenningen, M., Pobitzer, A., Handegard, N. O., & de Jong, K. (2019). Estimating purse seine volume during capture: implications for fish densities and survival of released unwanted catches. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 76(7), 2481–2488.

[48] Snowden, D., Tsontos, V. M., Handegard, N. O., Zarate, M., O’ Brien, K., Casey, K. S., … Arms, S. C. (2019). Data Interoperability Between Elements of the Global Ocean Observing System. Frontiers in Marine Science, 6.

[47] Allken, V., Handegard, N. O., Rosen, S., Schreyeck, T., Mahiout, T., & Malde, K. (2019). Fish species identification using a convolutional neural network trained on synthetic data. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 76(1), 342–349.

[46] Anders, N., Howarth, K., Totland, B., Handegard, N. O., Tenningen, M., & Breen, M. (2019). Effects on individual level behaviour in mackerel (Scomber scombrus) of sub-lethal capture related stressors: Crowding and hypoxia. PLOS ONE, 14(3), e0213709.

[45] Garcia, H. A., Zhu, C., Schinault, M. E., Kaplan, A. I., Handegard, N. O., Godø, O. R., … Ratilal, P. (2019). Temporal–spatial, spectral, and source level distributions of fin whale vocalizations in the Norwegian Sea observed with a coherent hydrophone array. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 76(1), 268–283.

[44] Malde, K., Handegard, N. O., Eikvil, L., & Salberg, A.-B. (2019). Machine intelligence and the data-driven future of marine science. ICES Journal of Marine Science.


[43] Moen, E., Handegard, N. O., Allken, V., Albert, O. T., Harbitz, A., & Malde, K. (2018). Automatic interpretation of otoliths using deep learning. PLOS ONE, 13(12), e0204713.

[42] Proud, R., Handegard, N. O., Kloser, R. J., Cox, M. J., & Brierley, A. S. (2018). From siphonophores to deep scattering layers: uncertainty ranges for the estimation of global mesopelagic fish biomass. ICES Journal of Marine Science. Highly Cited in Field

[41] Vatnehol, S., & Handegard, N. O. (2018). Echo integration using non-vertical sonar beams: The bias caused by non-uniform distribution of fish within the echo beam. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 144(4), 2160–2165.

[40] Vatnehol, S., Peña, H., & Handegard, N. O. (2018). A method to automatically detect fish aggregations using horizontally scanning sonar. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 75(5), 1803–1812.

[39] Zhu, C., Garcia, H., Kaplan, A., Schinault, M., Handegard, N., Godø, O., … Ratilal, P. (2018). Detection, Localization and Classification of Multiple Mechanized Ocean Vessels over Continental-Shelf Scale Regions with Passive Ocean Acoustic Waveguide Remote Sensing. Remote Sensing, 10(11), 1699.

[38] Handegard, N. O., Tenningen, M., Howarth, K., Anders, N., Rieucau, G., & Breen, M. (2017). Effects on schooling function in mackerel of sub-lethal capture related stressors: Crowding and hypoxia. PLOS ONE, 12(12), e0190259.

[37] Handegard, N. O., Holmin, A. J., & Rieucau, G. (2017). Method to observe large scale behavioural waves propagating through fish schools using 4D sonar. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 74(3), 804–812.

[36] Kruusmaa, M., Rieucau, G., Montoya, J. C. C., Markna, R., & Handegard, N. O. (2016). Collective responses of a large mackerel school depend on the size and speed of a robotic fish but not on tail motion. Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, 11(5), 056020.

[35] Skern-Mauritzen, M., Ottersen, G., Handegard, N. O., Huse, G., Dingsør, G. E., Stenseth, N. C., & Kjesbu, O. S. (2016). Ecosystem processes are rarely included in tactical fisheries management. Fish and Fisheries17(1), 165–175. Highly Cited in Field

[34] Handegard, N. O., Boswell, K., De Robertis, A., Macaulay, G. J., Rieucau, G., & Sivle, L. D. (2016). Investigating the Effect of Tones and Frequency Sweeps on the Collective Behavior of Penned Herring (Clupea harengus). Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology875, 391–398.

[33] Trenkel, V. M., Handegard, N. O., & Weber, T. C. (2016). Observing the ocean interior in support of integrated management.ICES Journal of Marine Science: Journal Du Conseil, fsw132.

[32] Rieucau, G., Holmin, A. J., Castillo, J. C., Couzin, I. D., & Handegard, N. O. (2016). School level structural and dynamic adjustments to risk promote information transfer and collective evasion in herring. Animal Behaviour117, 69–78.

[31] Rieucau, G., Sivle, L. D., & Handegard, N. O. (2015). Herring perform stronger collective evasive reactions when previously exposed to killer whales calls. Behavioral Ecology, arv186.

[30] Ressler, P. H., Dalpadado, P., Macaulay, G. J., Handegard, N., & SkernMauritzen, M. (2015). Acoustic surveys of euphausiids and models of baleen whale distribution in the Barents Sea. Marine Ecology Progress Series527, 13–29.

[29] Godø, O. R., Handegard, N. O., Browman, H. I., Macaulay, G. J., Kaartvedt, S., Giske, J., … Johnsen, E. (2014). Marine ecosystem acoustics (MEA): quantifying processes in the sea at the spatio-temporal scales on which they occur. ICES Journal of Marine Science: Journal Du Conseil71(8), 2357–2369.

[28] Rieucau, G., Boswell, K. M., De Robertis, A., Macaulay, G. J., & Handegard, N. O. (2014). Experimental Evidence of Threat-Sensitive Collective Avoidance Responses in a Large Wild-Caught Herring School. PLoS ONE9(1), e86726.

[27] Blanchard, A., Hauge, K. H., Andersen, G., Fosså, J. H., Grøsvik, B. E., Handegard, N. O., … Vikebø, F. (2014). Harmful routines? Uncertainty in science and conflicting views on routine petroleum operations in Norway. Marine Policy43, 313–320.

[26] Rieucau, G., De Robertis, A., Boswell, K. M., & Handegard, N. O. (2014). School density affects the strength of collective avoidance responses in wild-caught Atlantic herring Clupea harengus: a simulated predator encounter experiment. Journal of Fish Biology85(5), 1650–1664.

[25] Handegard, N. O., Robertis, A. D., Rieucau, G., Boswell, K., & Macaulay, G. J. (2014). The reaction of a captive herring school to playbacks of a noise-reduced and a conventional research vessel. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences,72(4), 491–499.

[24] Rieucau, G., Fernö, A., Ioannou, C. C., & Handegard, N. O. (2014). Towards of a firmer explanation of large shoal formation, maintenance and collective reactions in marine fish. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries25(1), 21–37.

[23] Peña, H., Handegard, N. O., & Ona, E. (2013). Feeding herring schools do not react to seismic air gun surveys. ICES Journal of Marine Science: Journal Du Conseil70(6), 1174–1180.

[22] De Robertis, A., & Handegard, N. O. (2013). Fish avoidance of research vessels and the efficacy of noise-reduced vessels: a review. ICES Journal of Marine Science70(1), 34–45.

[21] Handegard, N. O., Tronstad, T. V., & Hovem, J. M. (2013). Evaluating the effect of seismic surveys on fish — the efficacy of different exposure metrics to explain disturbance. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences70(9), 1271–1277.

[20] Handegard, N. O., Buisson, L. du, Brehmer, P., Chalmers, S. J., De Robertis, A., Huse, G., … Godø, O. R. (2013). Towards an acoustic-based coupled observation and modelling system for monitoring and predicting ecosystem dynamics of the open ocean. Fish and Fisheries14(4), 605–615. 1 of 3 that were nominated to the best paper at IMR in 2013.

[19] Sivle, L. D., Kvadsheim, P. H., Ainslie, M. A., Solow, A., Handegard, N. O., Nordlund, N., & Lam, F.-P. A. (2012). Impact of naval sonar signals on Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) during summer feeding. ICES Journal of Marine Science: Journal Du Conseil69(6), 1078–1085.

[18] Doksaeter, L., Handegard, N. O., Godo, O. R., Kvadsheim, P. H., & Nordlund, N. (2012). Behavior of captive herring exposed to naval sonar transmissions (1.0–1.6 kHz) throughout a yearly cycle. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America,131(2), 1632–1642.

[17] Holmin, A. J., Handegard, N. O., Korneliussen, R. J., & Tjostheim, D. (2012). Simulations of multi-beam sonar echos from schooling individual fish in a quiet environment. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America132(6), 3720–3734.

[16] Handegard, N. O., Boswell, K. M., Ioannou, C. C., Leblanc, S. P., Tjøstheim, D. B., & Couzin, I. D. (2012). The Dynamics of Coordinated Group Hunting and Collective Information Transfer among Schooling Prey. Current Biology22(13), 1213–1217. See dispatch by Graeme Ruxton ( and feature by Michael Gross ( , and video abstract (

[15] Bazazi, S., Pfennig, K., Handegard, N., & Couzin, I. (2012). Vortex formation and foraging in polyphenic spadefoot toad tadpoles. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology66(6), 879–889.

[14] Doksaeter, L., Godo, O. R., Handegard, N. O., Kvadsheim, P. H., Lam, F.-P. A., Donovan, C., & Miller, P. J. O. (2009). Behavioral responses of herring (Clupea harengus) to 1–2 and 6–7 kHz sonar signals and killer whale feeding sounds. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America125(1), 554–564.

[13] Handegard, N. O., Pedersen, G., & Brix, O. (2009). Estimating tail-beat frequency using split-beam echosounders. ICES Journal of Marine Science66, 1252–1258.

[12] Pedersen, G., Handegard, N. O., & Ona, E. (2009). Lateral-aspect target-strength measurements of in situ herring (Clupea harengus). ICES Journal of Marine Science66, 1191–1196.

[11] Handegard, N. O., & Tjøstheim, D. (2009). The sampling volume of trawl and acoustics: estimating availability probabilities from observations of tracked individual fish. Canadian Journal of Fisheries & Aquatic Sciences66, 425–438.

[10] Handegard, N. O., & Williams, K. (2008). Automated tracking of fish in trawls using the DIDSON (dual frequency identification sonar). ICES Journal of Marine Science65, 636–644.

[9] Hjellvik, V., Handegard, N. O., & Ona, E. (2008). Correcting for vessel avoidance in acoustic abundance estimates for herring using a generalized linear model. ICES Journal of Marine Science65.

[8] Handegard, N. O. (2007). Observing individual fish behavior in fish aggregations: Tracking in dense aggregations. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America122(1), 177–187.

[7] Ona, E., Godø, O. R., Handegard, N. O., Hjellvik, V., Patel, R., & Pedersen, G. (2007). Silent research vessels are not quiet. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America121, EL145–EL150. . This paper won the best paper award at the Institute of Marine Research in 2007.

[6] Skaret, G., Slotte, A., Handegard, N. O., Axelsen, B. E., & Jørgensen, R. (2006). Pre-spawning herring in a protected area showed only moderate reaction to a surveying vessel. Fisheries Research78(2–3), 359–367.

[5] Handegard, N. O., Patel, R., & Hjellvik, V. (2005). Tracking individual fish from a moving platform using a split-beam transducer. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America118(4), 2210–2223.

[4] Handegard, N. O., & Tjøstheim, D. (2005). When fish meets a trawling vessel: examining the behaviour of gadoids using a free floating buoy and acoustic split-beam tracking. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences62, 2409–2422. The content of this paper won the best presentation at the ICES ASC 2004

[3] Patel, R., Handegard, N. O., & Godø, O. R. (2004). Behaviour of herring (Clupea harengus L.) to an approaching AUV. ICES Journal of Marine Science61, 1044–1049.

[2] Jørgensen, R., Handegard, N. O., Gjøsæter, H., & Slotte, A. (2004). Possible vessel avoidance behaviour of capelin in a feeding area and on a spawning ground. Fisheries Research69, 251–261.

[1] Handegard, N. O., Michalsen, K., & Tjøstheim, D. (2003). Avoidance behaviour in cod (Gadus morhua) to a bottom-trawling vessel. Aquatic Living Resources16, 265–270.


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