Allison Patterson

2022 Weston Family Awards in Northern Research recipient

Headshot of Allison Patterson, a 2022 Weston award winner

Postdoctoral fellow
University of Windsor

Allison is a marine ecologist who uses animal tracking to study how seabirds interact with their environment. Her postdoctoral research at the University of Windsor combines fine-scale GPS tracking of Arctic seabirds with DNA metabarcoding (a process that can identify and categorize several species at once through DNA samples) to examine the relationships between environmental conditions, fish populations and marine predators.

Vast distances and challenging ocean conditions make monitoring fish in the Canadian Artic using traditional sampling methods difficult. Instead, Allison’s project relies on fecal samples from Artic seabirds who feed on fish. By measuring the effort the birds expend to catch fish, and analyzing DNA from their droppings, she can identify the species of fish these birds are eating. The information is used to detect changes in the fish species available around seabird colonies and determine if the abundance of those fish species is changing in response to marine conditions.

This research can inform planning for sustainable harvest of fisheries in the face of climate change and increased commercial activity in Canada’s North.

Learn more about the Weston Family Awards in Northern Research.

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