Dedicated to the study and conservation of Pacific Seabirds and their environment.

Achievement Awards

P. Dee Boersma awarded 2018 Indianapolis Prize!

PSG is very excited to congratulate Dr. Boersma on this prestigious award.    Read more

Call for Nominations: PSG Awards!

Please submit your nominations for PSG Lifetime and Special Achievement Awards to the PSG Past Chair by 18 August 2017, 5 PM PDT.  Please see the PSG Awards page for more information.

Martin Raphael

Dr. Martin Raphael, as a research scientist with the U.S. Forest Service in Washington, made significant, long-term contributions to our understanding of the ecology and conservation of the marbled murrelet. Marty began working on murrelet-related issues in the early 1990s and continues his work today. He was instrumental in developing and implementing one of the first large-scale ecosystem management efforts – the Northwest Forest Plan. This effort improved management of a majority of the marbled murrelet nesting habitat south of Canada. Marty has also contributed to our knowledge of the species in its marine environment, including habitat use and development of an at-sea survey protocol, which is used to assess murrelet population status and trends throughout the range of the species south of Canada. He has produced and contributed to more than 40 publications on marbled murrelet ecology and conservation.

In recognition of his significant contributions to our knowledge about the ecology and conservation needs of the marbled murrelet, and his work to examine at-sea distribution of seabirds with respect to the Salish Sea and California Current ecosystems, the PSG honors Dr. Raphael with the 2017 Special Achievement Award.

P. Dee Boersma

Dr. P. Dee Boersma is the Wadsworth Endowed Chair in Conservation Science in the University of Washington’s Department of Biology. Her decades of research have extended from Alaska and Washington to Argentina and the Galápagos Islands. In the southern hemisphere her work has focused on penguin ecology and conservation, combining scientific rigor with resource management. Throughout her career she has mentored scores of undergraduate and graduate students while studying seabirds as indicators of environmental change. Her research started with Galápagos penguins and how their breeding biology was honed to the unpredictable Galapagos upwelling. She worked on Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels in the Barren Islands, Alaska for more than a decade, showing they ingested petroleum and could be used as indicators of oil spills. Dee directs the Center for Penguins as Ocean Sentinels, and for 30 years she has directed the Magellanic Penguin Project at Punta Tombo, Argentina, as a scientific fellow for the Wildlife Conservation Society. Her work on penguins led the charge for responsible fisheries in the South Atlantic, and helped guide management at a major tourist destination. She serves on numerous marine conservation boards spanning international, national, and scientific domains.

For her lifetime of education, research, and international leadership in conservation of seabirds, including opening new frontiers in ecological studies and conservation of penguins in South America, the Pacific Seabird Group honors Dr. Boersma with the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Sarah Wanless

Dr. Sarah Wanless is internationally recognized as a leading and influential marine scientist, with a lifetime focus on seabirds. Her work has included long term studies of a variety of North Atlantic species, particularly murres, puffins, kittiwakes and shags, with groundbreaking research into seabird-prey interactions and the influence of commercial fisheries in seabird ecology. Sarah is based at the United Kingdom’s Center for Ecology and Hydrology and, among other appointments, holds Honorary Professor positions at the University of Glasgow and the University of Aberdeen. During her career, Sarah has mentored more than 30 Doctoral and Masters students. Concurrently, she has served as an expert advisor for European policy makers, particularly on seabird – fisheries interactions. Sarah is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and received the Zoological Society of London Marsh Award for Conservation Biology. With a remarkable 250 papers and two books authored to date, she is an accomplished author and educator.

In recognition of her decades of research on the ecology of Atlantic seabirds and their prey, leading to long-term studies and conservation efforts, her international leadership in education, ecosystem studies, and management that have benefitted seabirds, the Pacific Seabird Group honors Dr. Wanless with the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Lindsay Young

SAA_LindsayYoung_2016PSGLindsay Young is the executive director of Pacific Rim Conservation, a non-profit organization she co-founded with Eric VanderWerf to address research and management needs of native species across the Pacific. She earned a B.S. from the Univ. of British Columbia and an MS and Ph.D. in zoology from the Univ. of Hawaii. Lindsay has specialized in creating “mainland islands” through predator proof fencing followed by habitat restoration and seabird attraction and translocation. She was the project coordinator for the Kaena Point Ecosystem Restoration Project which installed the first predator proof fence in the U.S. at Kaena Point on Oahu in 2011 and eradicated all predators soon after. In 2014 she oversaw the construction of a predator proof fence at Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge followed by intensive habitat restoration in anticipation of translocating Hawaiian Petrels and Newell’s Shearwaters. The first Hawaiian Petrel translocation at the site was successfully completed in the fall of 2015 and will be followed by translocating Newell’s Shearwaters in 2016. Her research has been focused on the demography of Laysan Albatrosses, and, in particular, the evolutionary significance of same sex pairing in that species. Lindsay has authored several dozen scientific papers, served as the treasurer for the Pacific Seabird Group, the local chair of PSG twice, the chair of the North Pacific Albatross Working Group, the North Pacific correspondent for ACAP (Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels).

The Pacific Seabird Group awards Lindsay Young with a Special Achievement Award in recognition of her perseverance to protect and conserve Hawaiian seabirds and her sustained commitment to the Pacific Seabird Group.

Gus van Vliet

SAA_GusVanVliet_2016PSGGus van Vliet began his studies of seabirds as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan and over the subsequent decades has conducted marine bird research in northern Norway, Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands, Chukchi Sea, northern Canada, and the northwest Pacific Ocean. Much of his work has been in close collaboration with others, particularly Alan Springer and John Piatt, and has generally been ecological in nature. Biological oceanography and trophic webs have been a driving interest, with emphasis on top-down controls within marine food webs, including marine mammals and salmon. In the early 1990s his two commentaries on Kittlitz’s Murrelets, published in the PSG Bulletin, were the first to sound an alarm over population trends, climate change, and the status of this enigmatic seabird. He continues to be an astute observer of patterns in marine ecosystems and how seabirds and marine mammals are directly and indirectly involved. He has just retired after a 25-year career at the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, having worked within all pollution media (i.e., air quality, water quality, contaminated sites, and oil spill response/prevention).

In recognition of his pioneering contributions to the conservation of Kittlitz’s and Marbled Murrelets in Alaska and his decades of commitment to understand and protect these mysterious seabirds, PSG honors Gus Van Vliet with a Special Achievement Award.

John F. Piatt

LAA_JohnPiatt_2016PSGJohn Piatt got hooked on seabirds in 1973 after spending a few nights on Gull Island, Newfoundland– site of the largest Leach’s Storm-petrel and Atlantic Puffin colony in the Northwest Atlantic. While he subsequently pursued an undergraduate degree in biochemistry, three summers in the 1970’s were spent working as a naturalist at Cape St. Mary’s gannetry, thereby cementing his love affair with seabirds. John switched his field of study to marine biology during the 1980s, and for his graduate program at Memorial University of Newfoundland he assessed the impacts of gill-net bycatch and oil pollution on seabirds, and then studied the behavioral ecology of Common Murre and Atlantic Puffin predation on capelin— the most abundant forage fish in the frigid waters of eastern Newfoundland.

Lured to Alaska in 1987 by the opportunity to study auklets at St. Lawrence Island, and still employed today by the Department of the Interior (USGS Alaska Science Center) in Anchorage, John has spent the past 29 years studying seabirds, forage fish and marine ecosystems throughout Alaska and the North Pacific. This included documenting the impact of the Exxon Valdez oil spill on seabirds, and examining how natural variability in forage fish communities affects the biology, behavior and physiology of seabirds at their colonies.

In more recent years, John conducted studies of oceanography, forage fish and birds in glacial-fjord ecosystems in the Gulf of Alaska and in passes of the Aleutian archipelago. John is an author on more than 250 published articles and agency reports, enjoying collaborations with a large number of colleagues around the globe. Among his professional activities, he has served as editor for The Auk and Marine Ecology Progress Series, as a graduate student advisor and affiliate professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland, the University of Washington and Oregon State University, as Chair of the Pacific Seabird Group, and as a science advisor to the North Pacific Research Board. John continues to be fascinated by the Auk family of seabirds, a passion shared by his wife, Nancy Naslund. John and Nancy (and until recent fledging, their six children) reside in Port Townsend, Washington, on the Flying Auk Ranch, alongside a menagerie of dogs, cats, birds, guinea pigs, rabbits, ducks, chickens and horses.

In recognition of his significant achievements and impacts in the fields of seabird ecology, fisheries science, and marine conservation, the Pacific Seabird Group honors John Piatt for over 25 years of scientific leadership, international collaboration, and the creation of the North Pacific Pelagic Seabird Database with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Larry B. Spear (1945 – 2006)

LAA_LarrySpear_2016PSGLarry Spear received his BS, with Honors, from the Department of Wildlife & Fisheries Biology, University of California, Davis, in 1978; and his MS in Marine Science, Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, in 1986. The latter required him living in his car for three years, traveling up and down the West Coast from Seattle to San Diego, stopping at all the fish-processing plants, dumps, and river mouths, and keeping track of two cohorts of Western Gulls that he had banded as chicks on the Farallones. His thesis, “Dispersal in the Western Gull,” was published in The Auk. He went on to write 11 papers about Western gull life-history strategies, from hatching to senescence, published in The Auk (3X), Journal of Animal Ecology (2X), Studies in Avian Biology, The Condor and elsewhere. His piece in Natural History Magazine, about how a Halloween mask can fool gulls into misidentifying humans, was recognized by the magazine as the article of the decade.

He then set out to understand the at-sea ecology of seabirds. He pioneered the correction of ‘flux,’ whereby the speed and direction of a bird relative to the speed and direction of the research platform, transforms what we perceive as bird ‘density.’ He developed the only existing technique to accurately determine the population size of burrow-nesting species (published in Journal of Applied Ecology) from at sea data.

Perhaps his greatest contribution is a series of papers, 33 thus far, was his investigation of the at-sea biology of seabirds, including those of the Southern Ocean and the Eastern tropical Pacific. Within that body of work he showed convincingly that, indeed, many seabirds do feed at night; rediscovered the thought-to-be extinct Fregetta grallaria titan subspecies of White-bellied Storm-Petrel; showed that eating plastic does negatively affect seabird well-being; discovered mimicry in Kermadec Petrels that was of a form not yet described in vertebrates; revealed how morphological differences between polar and tropical seabirds related to their respective windfields; described the Pacific-basin-wide migration of Sooty Shearwaters, now confirmed by satellite telemetry; and estimated the true population of the Hawaiian Petrel, much higher than thought at the time – but now confirmed by the discovery of new nesting populations. Since his death two monographs of his have been published, one on the diet of an entire mid-ocean seabird fauna, and the other on the at-sea biology of storm-petrels of the eastern Pacific.

Larry’s legacy also lives on in museum collections; he was a master taxidermist whose study skins with their associated data continue to make significant contributions to our knowledge of seabirds.

In recognition of a passionate scientist whose unstinting focus on solving unanswered questions about seabirds led to many profound discoveries, the Pacific Seabird Group honors Larry Spear posthumously with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

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Marine Ornithology

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