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Ellen Pikitch


Wadsworth Endowed Chair in Conservation Science
Director of the Center for Penguins as Ocean Sentinels

Professor, Biology
Adjunct Professor, Women Studies
University of Washington
Seattle, Washington

Ph.D., Ohio State University
Zoology, 1974

Research Expertise

Conservation Science
Environmental Change
Anthropogenic Effects




Dr. P. Dee Boersma holds the Wadsworth Endowed Chair in Conservation Science at the University of Washington, and since 1998 has been a professor of Biology in the Biology Department and an adjunct faculty member in the Women Studies Department. She is also a Research Fellow of the Wildlife Conservation Society, directing the Penguin Project in Punta Tombo, Argentina, the largest Magellanic penguin colony in the world. For 29 years Dr. Boersma has assessed the biological characteristics of these penguins, documenting foraging patterns, migratory routes, and anthropogenic threats to their survival. Her work led to direct conservation action, such as preventing the harvest of penguins for gloves, meat and oil; and shifting tanker lanes away from the Argentine coast to prevent ship discharge from impacting penguins in their foraging and migration along the Provincial coast of Chubut.

Dr. Boersma’s research uses seabirds as indicators of environmental change. The effects of climate variation are now evident on penguin colonies in the southern Atlantic and Pacific regions. Her work on Galapagos penguins was the first to show that El Niño events had profound impacts well beyond the coast of South America. Dr. Boersma has published numerous articles in scientific journals, and is the founder and current Executive Editor of Conservation, an award-winning conservation magazine she launched in 2000. She recently co-edited the book "Penguins: Natural History and Conservation."


Download PDF of C.V.


Recent Selected Publcations

Boersma, P. D., A. Steinfurth, G. Merlen, G, Jiménez-Uzcátegui, F. H. Vargas and P. G. Parker. In Press. Galápagos penguin (Spheniscus mendisulus). In: Garcia Borboroglu, P. and P.D. Boermsa (eds.), Penguins: Natural History and Conservation. University of Washington Press, Seattle.

Boersma, D., P. Garcia Borgoroglu, E. Frere, O. Kane, L. M. Pozzi, K. Putz, A. Raya Rey, G. A. Rebstock, A. Simeone, J. Smith, P. Yorio, and A. Van Buren. In press. Magellanic Penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus). In: Garcia Borboroglu, P. and P. D. Boersma (eds.), Penguins: Natural History and Conservation. University of Washington Press, Seattle.

Wagner, E.L. and P.D. Boersma. 2011. Effects of fisheries on seabird community ecology. Reviews in Fisheries Science 19(3):157-167.

Boersma, P.D., and G. A Rebstock. 2010. Calculating egg volume when shape differs: when are equations appropriate? Journal of Field Ornithology 81(4):442-448.

Boersma, P.D. G.A. Rebstock, E. Frere, and S.E. Moore. 2009. Following the fish: penguins and productivity in the South Atlantic. Ecological Monographs 79(1): 59-76.

Boersma, P.D. and G.A. Rebstock. 2009. Foraging distance affects reproductive success in Magellanic penguins. Marine Ecology Progress Series 375: 263-275.

Boersma, P.D. 2008. Penguins as Marine Sentinels. BioScience 58: 597-607.

Garcia-Borboroglu, P., P.D. Boersma, L. Reyes, and E. Skewgar. 2008. Petroleum pollution and penguins: marine conservation tools to reduce the problem pp.339-356. In: T. N. Hofer ed. Marine Pollution: New Research. Nova Science publishers. New York.

Boersma, P.D., G.A. Rebstock, D.L. Stokes, and P. Majluf. 2007. Oceans apart: conservation models for two temperate penguin species shaped by the marine environment. Marine Ecology Progress Series 335: 217-225.

Vargas, F.H., R.C. Lacy, P.J. Johnson, A. Steinfurth, R.J.M. Crawford, P.D. Boersma, and D.W. Macdonald. 2007. Modeling the effect of El Niño on the persistence of small populations: the Galápagos penguin as a case study. Biological Conservation 137: 138-148

Skewgar. E., P.D. Boersma, G. Harris, and G. Caille. 2007. Anchovy fishery threat to Patagonian ecosystem. Science 315: 45.

Clark, J.A. and P.D. Boersma. 2006. Southern Elephant Seal Mirounga leonina kills Magellanic Penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus) on land. Marine Mammal Science 22(1): 222-225

Boersma, P.D., H. Vargas, and G. Merlen. 2005. Living laboratory in peril. Science 308: 925.

Shumway, S.E., S.M. Allen, and P.D. Boersma. 2003. Marine birds and harmful algal blooms: sporadic victims or under-reported events? Harmful Algae 2: 1-17.

Stokes, D.L. and P.D. Boersma. 1999. Where breeding Magellanic penguins Spheniscus magellanicus forage: satellite telemetry results and their implications for penguin conservation. Marine Ornithology 27: 59-65.