What we do

Our research programme

Seabirds offer a seamless link between sea and land. They are essentially marine creatures, but must come to land to breed. Seabirds’ time ashore allows us to study them on the many islands and headlands along our northern coasts. We use a combination of traditional fieldwork and survey methods, innovative technology, and cutting-edge science, to study not only their breeding biology and populations on land, but also their foraging ecologies, diet, and distributions at sea.


Seabirds are crucial components of marine ecosystems and possess attributes that make them useful as indicators of change in the marine environment. Seabird populations are a key indicator for long-term assessment of marine ecosystems across broad spatial scales. However, this is dependent on accurate baseline population data, long-term monitoring of key species and sites using consistent methodology, and adequate resources to support long-term research programmes.

Our research into the terrestrial ecosystems that seabirds inhabit and help shape, are a key component of this programme.  We investigate the dynamics of how islands change following pest eradications, study the connections between land and sea through nutrient flows, and provide vital information for future restoration work both in New Zealand and overseas.

Photo: Neil Fitzgerald (Buller's shearwater)