As a John Lewis Paton Distinguished University Professor of Psychology, Biology and Ocean Sciences at Memorial University of Newfoundland, I engage a long-term interdisciplinary ecosystem research program focused on the behavioural ecology of marine birds. Students, post-doctoral fellows and assistants working in my lab focus our research studies on seabird responses to environmental change. We explore multi-species and food web dynamics in Low Arctic and Boreal marine ecosystems and assess the use of seabird responses as indicators of prey and environmental conditions. We engage evidence-based environmental assessments. We collaborate with fishers and hunters, oceanographers, fisheries research scientists and seabird biologists from Newfoundland and Labrador and across Canada, the USA, Europe, Australia and Africa. Our research is conservation-oriented in perspective and activity and is supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
Current research projects involve tracking free-ranging seabirds to study their foraging tactics and migratory ecology. Decadal studies of the dietary variability of seabirds are related to changing oceanographic and forage prey conditions. Seabirds and other non-target bycatch in gillnets are assessed and mitigation tactics are developed and tested. Environmental assessments of extraneous light, pollution and disturbance associated with marine hydrocarbon and renewable wind energy developments are ongoing. We continue research on the ecology and exploitation and over-exploitation of the extinct Great Auk.