Daniel Johnston


PhD Researcher

E-Mail Address


Seabird Research Assistant, Point Blue Conservation Science, Southeast Farallon Islands, California. April 2015-August 2015


Zoological Field Assistant, British Antarctic Survey, King Edward Point Research Station, South Georgia. September 2012 – December 2014

Fisheries Observer, Government of South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, King Edward Point Research Station. July-August 2013


MRes Applied Marine & Fisheries Ecology, 2011-2012, University of Aberdeen

BSc (Hons) Marine and Freshwater Biology, 2007-2011, University of Glasgow


I recently started a PhD at the ERI studying the ecology of black guillemots in relation to marine renewable and marine protected areas. My first impressions of ERI were of its beautiful setting, welcoming atmosphere, and the huge range of research being undertaken.


Thurso may be the most northerly spot that I have lived in but I gained much of my experience for this research project in the southern hemisphere, working for 2 years on the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia. There, I studied fur seals and seabirds (including penguins), using these ‘higher-predator’ species as indicators to monitor prey abundance and the state of the marine ecosystem. I then spent the summer living just off California. Away from the sun and sand, I was involved in intensive seabird re-search on the foggy Farallon Islands where I first came across the pigeon guillemot (close relative to the black guillemot) whose charismatic behaviour and bright singing made the draw of working with tysties irresistible.


This project is hugely relevant to future tidal stream energy developments within the Pentland Firth with so many unknowns related to how seabirds utilise the area. During the project I will investigate black guillemot foraging behaviour and the broader impacts that diet and predation may have on this species, building upon previous work by Dr Elizabeth Masden and Dr Helen Wade. Though it is still early days, I have already received a hugely positive response to the project from the seabird community, only increasing my excitement for the coming field season.