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Nature Night: A Seabird Responds to a Melting Arctic

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When: Mar 10, 2015 from 07:00 pm to 08:30 pm

Every summer since 1975, Dr. George Divoky has camped on Cooper Island, a remote site off the northern tip of Alaska, to examine the breeding biology of Black Guillemots. His work chronicles the guillemots’ struggles in a rapidly changing environment, and his findings foreshadow the types of change that may occur at lower latitudes as climate change continues. Join Dr. Divoky on the 40th anniversary of the start of his Cooper Island work for a presentation about his research and guillemot natural history.

Black Guillemots - Joe McNally
Black Guillemots - Joe McNally

This event is part of the Audubon Society of Portland's monthly Nature Night lecture series, held at Audubon's main campus at 5151 NW Cornell Road. Each talk is free and open to the public, so grab a seat and get ready to learn more about the natural world.

Forty Years of Change: A Seabird Responds to a Melting Arctic

Every summer since 1975, Dr. George Divoky has camped on Cooper Island, a remote site off the northern tip of Alaska, to examine the breeding biology of Black Guillemots. His work chronicles the guillemots’ struggles in a rapidly changing environment, and his findings foreshadow the types of change that may occur at lower latitudes as climate change continues. Join Dr. Divoky on the 40th anniversary of the start of his Cooper Island work for a presentation about his research and guillemot natural history.

The Black Guillemot, one of the Arctic’s few resident seabirds, has a number of life history characteristics that make it an ideal indicator of Arctic change. Unlike most of the millions of seabirds visiting the Arctic to breed in summer, Black Guillemots in the western Arctic undertake only a limited migration and are able to exploit arctic habitats throughout the year.

While focused on a single seabird species, Divoky’s research has documented rapid change in a major marine ecosystem that has affected everything from zooplankton to polar bears. What started as a two-year examination of seabird breeding biology turned into a four-decade study that continues today, chronicling the disruptions and changes occurring in the Arctic from increasing temperatures and decreasing snow and ice.

At his Nature Night presentation, Dr. Divoky will also share stories about what it takes to learn to "speak bird" in the field, how to deal with rampaging polar bears in camp, and the efforts required to maintain field research for such an extended time period.

Dr. George Divoky, currently Director of the nonprofit Friends of Cooper Island, has studied seabirds in arctic Alaska since 1970; he has been involved in Alaskan seabird research relating to a diverse group of conservation issues ranging from native land claims, to oil and gas, to regional climate change. Since 1975, his continuing study of Black Guillemots on Cooper Island has provided some of the first evidence of the biological consequences of climate change in the Arctic. Dr. Divoky was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, and has Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Michigan State University and a doctorate from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. When not in the field he lives in Seattle, Washington. Find out more about Dr. Divoky's work at the Friends of Cooper Island website.

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