Wadsworth Endowed Chair in Conservation Science and Professor
Department of Biology
University of Washington
Seattle, Washington, USA
Presentation Title: “Natural History Informs Conservation: Penguins as Ocean Sentinels”
Dr. P. Dee Boersma holds the Wadsworth Endowed Chair in Conservation Science at the University of Washington and is the founder and executive editor of Conservation magazine, an award-winning publication dedicated to conservation science.
Dubbed the “Jane Goodall of penguins” by the New York Times, Boersma is passionate about seabirds. She has shown that even a small oil spill over a hundred kilometers from their nest can cause fork-tailed storm-petrels to feed contaminated food to their offspring and that climate variation can cause Galapagos penguins to desert their eggs and chicks. Boersma considers penguins “marine sentinels,” sounding the alarm on environmental threats to ocean ecosystems.
For 30 years, she has been the director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s study of Magellanic penguins at Punta Tombo, Argentina, home of the world’s largest colony of Magellanic penguins. Boersma and her students follow the lives of individual penguins, monitor the colony, and develop the data needed to plan effective conservation efforts. In the Galapagos Islands she is building “condos” to increase the Galapagos penguin population.
Boersma received a 2009 Heinz Foundation award for achievements leading toward a cleaner, greener, and more sustainable world; was awarded a 2010 Fulbright fellowship to study wildlife videography in New Zealand; and, in 2011, was named one of the Nature Conservancy’s “Conservation Heroes of the last 50 years.” In 2012, she received the Ocean Conservation Award from the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California.
In April 2013, Boersma published her first book with colleague and academic “grandson” Pablo Borboroglu, titled Penguins: Natural History and Conservation. The book has been a huge success.