The Seabird Institute (formerly Seabird Restoration Program) of the National Audubon Society is an internationally recognized program that restores seabirds to historic nesting islands through the use of innovative techniques based on seabird behavior and ecology. For 40 years, the program has restored populations of rare and endangered seabirds to islands in the Gulf of Maine using techniques such as models, mirrors, sound recordings, translocation of young seabirds and habitat management. These techniques have great potential to help rare species, as nearly all seabirds share biological traits such as colonial nesting habits, tendencies to return to hatching places and attraction to others of their species by sight and sound. Techniques developed at Audubon's Maine Coast Seabird Sanctuaries have helped rare seabirds in the Galapagos Islands, Hawaiian Islands, Japan, New Zealand, California and Washington where seabirds were decimated due to human actions.
Many of earth's 346 seabird species could benefit from SRP techniques since the ranges and populations of most species are greatly decreased compared to historic periods, especially in areas where human activities have reduced habitat, introduced predators and polluted coastal waters. Birdlife International presently lists 28% of all seabirds as globally threatened. Some seabird groups such as the petrels and shearwaters are especially threatened with nearly half of all species on the globally threatened list. The need for proactive conservation strategies is urgent, as some species nest at just one location where disease and predators could easily eliminate entire species. Many of these species could benefit from techniques piloted and proven in the Gulf of Maine , but there is presently no systematic strategy for disseminating information to other biologists and wildlife managers beyond publications and presentations at scientific meetings.
Most of the rare seabirds of the world live in tropical climates where the resource agencies of third world countries have very limited funding for managing seabirds and are unlikely to send their biologists outside of the country for training programs that could offer models and techniques for helping rare birds.
The Josephine D. Herz Seabird Fellowship Fund will provide travel and living expenses for resource managers to attend Audubon's Seabird Management Internship at the Society's Maine Coastal Island Sanctuaries during the period of late May to mid-August. (To view past recipients, please scroll to the bottom of this page.)
The Seabird Institute's training program is a 10-week field practicum for college students and professionals interested in learning applied seabird management techniques. The program builds on knowledge from several theoretical disciplines, principally evolutionary biology, taxonomy, genetics, oceanography, marine biology and marine ornithology. The program combines theory with practical experience from applied disciplines such as wildlife management and aviculture to develop proactive techniques for managing rare and endangered seabirds.
Recipients of the Josephine D. Herz Fellowship will begin their internship at Audubon's Hog Island Environmental Education Center (Bremen, Maine USA ) in late May where they will take part in an intensive two-day orientation program with approximately twenty summer interns actively managing seabird nesting islands throughout the Gulf of Maine. Instructors for the training program include biologists from Audubon's SRP and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as well as faculty from cooperating universities including the University of Maine and University of New Brunswick. The training program focuses on the following topics:
After orientation training, the fellowship recipient will begin the field practicum part of the program. This will take place on Audubon's system of managed seabird nesting islands. There are seven field stations located on islands along the Maine coast. Some islands such as Eastern Egg Rock have been managed for over 30 years, while the most recent project on Outer Green Island was started in 2002. The islands range in size from 2 ha Jenny Island to 50 ha Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge. The islands are largely treeless and remote, some located as much as 30 km offshore. See the map of research islands for detailed descriptions of the research stations, field projects conducted at each island and lists of species nesting on the islands.
The Herz Fellows will join an island team comprised of 2-4 other biologists where they will receive supervision and additional training from a resident Island Supervisor as well as other science staff. Recipients will visit multiple islands over the course of the summer and participate in various restoration projects - some just starting and others that are 30-year success stories. Where interest exists, there may also be opportunities for fellows to participate in ongoing education and outreach programs.
Applicants should hold the position of biologist or similar on the staff of a conservation agency, academic or research institution or non-governmental organization concerned with seabird conservation. Applicants with a specific conservation project concerning a rare or endangered seabird are especially encouraged to apply. Applicants should complete the application, and submit it along with a current resume and three letters of reference.
Deadline: Applications must be submitted by February 15th.
Assistance for initiating international conservation projects.
SRP will assist Herz Fellows establish new seabird conservation programs within the Fellow's home country. By demonstrating international interest in the conservation of seabirds in third world countries, Audubon can help the Herz Fellows build support for developing and implementing conservation programs.
Participating SRP staff
DON LYONS is the Director of Conservation Science for National Audubon Society's Seabird Institute. He came to Audubon from Oregon State University, where he has worked on seabird science and conservation for 20 years as a graduate student, post-doc, and Assistant Professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. He is involved with many projects directly derived from the Seabird Institute's methods or closely aligned with current Seabird Institute interests. These include restoring seabird colonies using social attraction and understanding the relationship between seabirds and forage fish. His background as an electrical engineer and seabird biologist help him further research on tracking seabird foraging, dispersal, and migration using both banding and electronic tagging and assessing the impacts of changes in ocean climate on seabird breeding success and population resiliency.
In recent years, he has provided leadership with projects of great conservation relevance such as colony restoration for the critically endangered Chinese Crested Tern in Asia, investigations of the steep decline of Aleutian Terns in Alaska, and reduction of conflicts between Caspian Terns and threatened salmon populations in the Pacific Northwest. He is also an educator, teaching courses in seabird biology at Oregon State University.
PAULA SHANNON is the Seabird Sanctuary Manager for the National Audubon Society's Seabird Institute. She began working for the Seabird Institute in 2002, as Island Supervisor on Matinicus Rock, Maine's most diverse seabird colony. She continued in this role for five years until 2006, participating in various projects involving alcids, terns, gulls, storm-petrels, and shearwaters. In 2011 she returned, supervising the research and management of all seven of SRP’s field stations. She has also studied seabirds in Alaska and Hawaii, leading fieldwork on seabirds for the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Alaska's Pribilof and Semidi Islands from 2008-2010, and serving as a biologist in the French Frigate Shoals in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. Paula also worked for the Bureau of Land Management in Oregon, with much of her work focused on Marbled Murrelets. In addition to her work with seabirds, Paula has worked on numerous avian research and conservation projects across the United States, including work with raptors, songbirds, and shorebirds. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Biology from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, which is where she first developed a love and appreciation for the Maine coast.
To see Herz Fellowship recipients by year, please click the links below:
2021 - (No Herz Fellows, due to COVID-19)
2020 - (No Herz Fellows, due to COVID-19)
2013 - (No Herz Fellows chosen)
2010 - (No Herz Fellows chosen)