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BRI wildlife research biologists, along with a wide range of collaborating scientists, conduct innovative wildlife science around the globe. Always at the forefront of our work is attention to the care of the wildlife we handle. Here, a biologist measures the beak of a Cooper's Hawk.

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Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI), a nonprofit ecological research group based in Portland, Maine, conducts innovative wildlife science worldwide.

BRI’s Center for Mercury Studies plays a lead scientific role in understanding the exposure and effects of mercury on wildlife in New England, North America, and around the world. The Center for Waterbird Studies is dedicated to assessing current and emerging threats to waterbirds. The programs in our Center for Ecology and Conservation Research aim to understand the workings of wildlife and their habitats while exploring how ecological stressors affect different species and ecosystems.

BRI's researchers are available to talk to journalists and provide expert information on both their work and the broader topics of their expertise. 

To set up interviews, contact: 

Deborah McKewCommunications Director


News Release Archive

May 29, 2014

Waterbirds Journal Publishes Special Loon Issue

Biodiversity Research Institute Announces the Publication of a
Special Loon Issue of the Journal Waterbirds


Gorham, MEBiodiversity Research Institute (BRI), in collaboration with the Waterbird Society, announces the release of a special issue of the journal Waterbirds that is dedicated to loon research and conservation in North America. Fifteen scientific papers are presented in this special issue under several broad headings: behavior; life history and population ecology; movements and migration; habitat and landscape requirements; and contaminants.

“This collection of papers represents a major leap in the scientific knowledge that has been published in the last three decades on the different species of loons,” says James Paruk, Ph.D., BRI’s senior loon biologist and editor of the special issue. “This information is critical for more effective conservation management. However, challenges continue with many significant threats to loon populations. This special issue will help bring attention to the importance of loons as indicators of the health of aquatic ecosystems, not only for wildlife, but for humans as well.”

Loons include a group of large, heavy bodied, primarily piscivorous (fish-eating) birds that breed on freshwater lakes but overwinter predominately in marine environments. They are long-lived and have high adult survival and low fecundity (reproductive capacity). Five recognized species breed in North America and Europe and include the Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellata), Arctic Loon (G. arctica), Pacific Loon (G. pacifica), Common Loon (G. immer), and Yellow-billed Loon (G. adamsii).

Loons are threatened by environmental conditions such as acid rain and mercury pollution from industrial processes, lead poisoning from fishing tackle, and marine oil spills. In addition,  environmental contaminants, thousands of adult loons die annually due to botulism type E, by-catch in commercial gillnets, the loss of breeding habitat, and climate change.

Research highlights presented in this special issue of Waterbirds include the first data on sex ratios in Common Loon chicks, the first adult survival estimates for Red-throated Loons, and first reports of mercury exposure in Yellow-billed Loons from Alaska and Canada. In addition, a new long-distance migration record for the Common Loon, a landscape assessment of Common Loons in Massachusetts, and oil concentrations in loons wintering in Barataria Bay, Louisiana (one of the areas hit hardest by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill) are documented.

The special loon issue will be available May 30 online at



Funding for this project has been provided by the Ricketts Conservation Foundation, which was formed by Joe Ricketts to support the conservation of wildlife and natural resources. Underlying the Foundation’s mission is the reality that government no longer has sufficient resources to deal effectively with the growing environmental challenges we face. As a result, private individuals and corporations must increasingly shoulder the responsibility of conserving our wildlife and wilderness areas.

The Waterbird Society is an international scientific, nonprofit organization dedicated to the study and conservation of waterbirds. The Society, established in 1976, was created to establish better communication and coordination between the growing number of people studying and monitoring aquatic birds, and to contribute to the protection and management of stressed populations or habitats of these species.

The mission of Biodiversity Research Institute is to assess emerging threats to wildlife and ecosystems through collaborative research, and to use scientific findings to advance environmental awareness and inform decision makers. BRI’s Loon Program offers an essential resource for local and global communities concerned with loon preservation. Our research studies encompass a variety of ecological stressors: chemical toxins; habitat loss in breeding and wintering grounds and along migratory routes; and avian diseases.



Photo Credits: Cooper's Hawk © BRI-Rick Gray
Biodiversity Research Institute