Dr John Piatt


Alaska Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey, United States

I got hooked on seabirds in 1973 after spending a night on Great Island, Newfoundland-- site of the largest Leach's Storm-petrel colony in the Northwest Atlantic. For my doctoral research during the 1980s, I studied the behavioral ecology of common murre and Atlantic puffin predation on capelin—an abundant forage fish in the frigid waters surrounding seabird islands of eastern Newfoundland. Lured to Alaska in 1987 by the opportunity to study auklets at St. Lawrence Island, and now working at the USGS Alaska Science Center in Anchorage, I have spent the past 32 years studying seabirds, forage fish and marine ecosystems all over Alaska. This included many years of documenting the impact of the Exxon Valdez oil spill on seabirds, and examining how natural variability in marine food webs affected the biology, behavior and physiology of seabirds at their colonies. In recent years, I have been conducting similar studies of oceanography, forage fish and birds in glacial-fjord ecosystems in the Gulf of Alaska and in the Aleutian Island archipelago.