Biodiversity Research Institute
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Program Director
Iain Stenhouse, Ph.D.
During a research expedition to Little Duck Island, Iain captured and banded Black Guillemots.

Iain Stenhouse, Ph.D.

Senior Science Director, Marine Bird Program Director

207-839-7600 x210

Iain's passion for seabirds and remote islands was forged on the rugged west coast of his native Scotland. On completing his undergraduate degree, Iain worked as a research ornithologist with Scottish Natural Heritage mainly studying rapidly increasing goose populations and their interactions with agriculture in northern Scotland.

Determined to study seabirds, however, he moved to Newfoundland to take on graduate research studies. During his time in eastern Canada, Iain investigated the habitat use and breeding success of Leach's Storm-Petrels in Newfoundland, and the reproductive and behavioral ecology of Sabine's Gulls in the eastern Arctic. As part of a post-doctoral fellowship with the Canadian Wildlife Service, he co-authored a status report on the Ivory Gull, which resulted in the species being uplisted to Endangered in Canada.

Iain maintains a strong Canadian connection as a member of the Birds Specialist Subcommittee of COSEWIC, the committee that advises the Canadian government on the conservation status of wildlife species in Canada.

From 2004-2008, Iain served as the director of Bird Conservation for Audubon Alaska. In that role, he completed the first statewide assessment of Important Bird Areas (IBAs). Iain comes to BRI most recently from the National Audubon Society’s Science Office, where he was the senior scientist for the national IBA Program. He is a member of the U.S. IBA Committee, the group that reviews proposed IBAs across the country.

Iain is also an adjunct professor at the University of Southern Maine, where he teaches Ornithology. He has authored many peer-reviewed papers on the ecology of marine birds, including two original species accounts (Sabine’s Gull, Dovekie), and one updated species account (Ivory Gull), in the acclaimed Birds of North America series. Recently, Iain collaborated with a Danish researcher to track Arctic Terns from their breeding grounds in Northeast Greenland to their wintering areas in Antarctica and back again—the longest animal migration ever recorded—an average return journey of more than 70,000 km!


  • Ph.D., Cognitive & Behavioral Ecology, Memorial University of Newfoundland, 2003
    • Stenhouse, I.J. (2003) The reproductive behaviour and ecology of Sabine’s Gulls (Xema sabini) in the eastern Canadian Arctic. Ph.D. Thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada. 192pp.
  • M.Sc., Biopsychology, Memorial University of Newfoundland, 1998
    • Stenhouse, I.J. (1998) Habitat utilization and breeding success of Leach's Storm-Petrel (Oceanodroma leucorhoa). M.Sc. Thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada. 61pp.
  • B.Sc. (Hons), Biology, University of Paisley, 1992
    • Stenhouse, I.J. (1992) The habitat selection of female Winter Wrens (Troglodytes troglodytes) during breeding. Honours Thesis, University of Paisley, Paisley, UK. 25pp.

Expertise and Experience

  • More than 20 years of experience in avian behavior and ecology
  • Extensive field research on northern-breeding seabirds
  • Identification, design, and implementation of conservation focused projects
  • Habitat assessment and important site identification
  • Scientific communications and collaborations

Research Interests

  • Reproductive and behavioral ecology of marine birds
  • Long-distance migration in seabirds
  • Conservation of endangered avian species
  • Protection and restoration of important habitats

Journal Articles


Book Chapter

  • Cecil, J., Sanchez, C., Stenhouse, I.J. & Hartzler, I. (2009) United States of America. Pp 369–382 in Important Bird Areas Americas - Priority sites for biodiversity conservation (C. Devenish, D.F. Díaz Fernández, R.P. Clay, I. Davidson & I. Yépez Zabala, eds.). BirdLife International, Quito, Ecuador (BirdLife Conservation Series No. 16).

BRI Scientific Communications