Assistant Professor; Canada Research Chair (Tier II) Chair in Arctic Ecology
T: 514-398-7907 | kyle.elliott [at] mcgill.ca (Email)| Macdonald-Stewart Building, MS3-042 | Website | @ArcticEcology |
BSc Hon (UBC)
Kyle Elliott received his PhD in 2014 from the University of Manitoba, where he was a Vanier Scholar and Garfield-Weston Fellow. He received his two BSc’s in Physics & Math and Conservation Biology from UBC, followed by a MSc at the University of Manitoba. He completed NSERC postdoctoral research at the University of Western Ontario and the University of Guelph prior to starting at McGill in 2015. Kyle recently received the Ned Johnston Young Investigator Award from the American Ornithologists Union. He serves on the board of the Society of Canadian Ornithologists and on the Editorial Board of the Marine Ecology Progress Series. He has conducted research on four continents from the Amazon to the Arctic, but specializes in the Canadian Arctic where he has studied birds on 14 of the islands in the Canadian Archipelago over the past 15 years. The sustainability of Arctic communities depends on their access to clean and abundant food, which is the subject of Dr. Elliott’s research at McGill.
Awards and Recognitions
Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Arctic Ecology
Ned K. Johnston Young Investigator Award from the American Ornithologists' Union
NSERC PDF (Guelph)
Young Scientist, World Economic Forum (2017, 2018)
Dr. Elliott studies the ecology of top avian predators (seabirds and raptors) as an indicator of the health of the Arctic. The focus is on the links between physiology, behaviour and fitness, especially in the context of senescence. Avian predators integrate information across space and time, and the research programme uses that information to understand how climatic, toxicological and other changes impact Northern environments. This approach uses energy transfer to connects the individual organism with the ecosystem. Dr. Elliott is broadly interested in the evolutionary ecology of senescence, ecotoxicology, ecological energetics, behavioural ecology, evolutionary physiology and population ecology.
The impacts of climate warming are greatest in the Arctic. The ecological energetics of top predators integrates information over many scales, thus providing unique opportunities to assess ecosystem change. As food used by northern people, top predators also provide early warning signals for changes in human health. How does reduced ice affect marine wildlife? What does the changing ecology of seabirds tell us about arctic ecosystems? These questions will be investigated using cutting-edge physiological and biologging tools to better understand the ecological mechanisms associated with a changing Arctic and to help ensure the environmental security of Arctic communities.
Spatial distribution of Arctic seabirds. In collaboration with Grant Gilchrist (Environment Canada) and a network of researchers at Windsor, UQAR, Carleton and Acadia, we are studying the at-sea distribution of seabirds. We use accelerometers, depth loggers and GPS units to follow thick-billed murres and other seabirds in the Arctic. Of particular interest are the colonies whose foraging range overlaps with the proposed shipping lanes for the immense Baffinlands mine. The ultimate goal is to provide a map of key biological hotspots in the Arctic to guide resource development in a changing North (shipping lanes, oil spill management, fisheries, national reserve design, etc.).
Top predators as indicators of environmental change. I am involved in several long-term (30+ year) studies that use seabirds to monitoring the North. Tony Gaston established a long-term monitoring site in Hudson Bay (Coats Island) and Scott Hatch established a long-term monitoring site in Alaska (Middleton Island). Alongside collaborators in Alaska, France and Canada (EC), I am monitoring the demographic, physiological and behavioural responses of these predators as a signal of ecosystem health. Alongside Birgit Braune (Environment Canada), I am particularly interested in what pollution levels measured in these seabirds tell us about pollution trends in the Arctic.
Individual-based monitoring. Using the same long-term datasets, I am interested in what makes a ‘good’ seabird. In particular, alongside Vicki Friesen (Queens), I am interested in the physiological, behavioural and genomic correlates of lifetime reproductive success. Given that seabirds are long-lived, an important component of lifetime reproductive success is how trends in these parameters change with age. To that end, a major research focus is determining what causes senescence in wild animals, including seabirds—at both the proximate and ultimate level.
Alpine birds. Alpine birds in the Tropics face many of the same issues as Arctic birds; as the world warms, they may be squeezed out at the top. I am collaborating with Adam Stein to study the migration of alpine three-wattled bellbirds in Costa Rica.
Using technology for wildlife conservation. I am involved in the development of novel technology to improve wildlife conservation, including the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) survey bats and count seabirds and the development of miniature biologgers to record the daily lives of wild animals.