Who We Are

Who We Are

David Ainley, Ph.D. (Senior Ecologist)

David Ainley, Ph.D. (Senior Ecologist)

Wildlife Ecology
San Francisco Bay Area

David Ainley has studied all aspects of marine ecosystems for more than 40 years, and is a world-recognized expert on Adélie penguins.

David’s extensive research includes:

  • Studies of the distribution of birds and mammals at sea on the U.S. West Coast and in the eastern tropical Pacific
  • A multiyear effort to rehabilitate habitat and restore several diminished or extirpated populations of marine birds and mammals on the Farallon National Wildlife Refuge
  • Studies to evaluate effects of power lines and other structures on endangered seabirds in Hawai‘i
  • Assessments of impacts on marine birds and mammals from oil spills in California, Alaska, and Antarctica
  • Multidisciplinary physical and biological investigations of the ecology of polar and tropical marine communities
  • Studies of impacts on marine mammals from human use of estuarine habitats
  • Efforts to evaluate the suitability of sites for deposition of dredged materials

David has been on committees of the National Research Council to evaluate national environmental programs, was a member of the Marine Mammal Commission (Committee of Scientific Advisors) and state and international fisheries commissions, and has represented U.S. interests in various polar initiatives. In addition, he has served as program head for meetings of the Audubon Naturalist Society, American Birding Association, Western Field Ornithologists, American Zoological Society, Pacific Climate Conference, Pacific Seabird Group, American Ornithologists’ Union, Cooper Ornithological Society, The Wildlife Society, American Geophysical Union, Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research, and various local chapters of the National Audubon Society.

David is instrumental in H. T. Harvey & Associates work on renewable energy projects in Hawaii and off of the coast of California. Most recently he has been working on Newell's shearwater conservation efforts in Maui and on research on seabird behavior in the California Current.  

David has published more than 200 papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals, as well as four books and two monographs, and has written extensively in the popular scientific press. He serves on the editorial board of two scientific journals and is the editor of Marine Ornithology.

He received a Ph.D. in animal behavior/ecology from Johns Hopkins University and a B.S. in biology from Dickinson College.

Highlighted Publications:

Ainley, D., D. A. Manuwal, J. Adams, and A. C. Thoresen. 2011. Cassin’s Auklet (Ptychoramphus aleuticus). In A. Poole (Editor), The Birds of North America Online. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. 

Ainley, D. G. 2002. The Adélie Penguin: Bellwether of Climate Change. Columbia University Press, New York.

Ainley, D. G., D. N. Nettleship, H. R. Carter, and A. E. Storey. 2002. Common Murre (Uria aalge). In A. Poole and F. Gill (Editors), The Birds of North America. No. 666. American Ornithologists’ Union, Washington, D.C.