George L. Hunt

Picture of George L. Hunt
Professor, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
School of Biological Sciences
PH.D., Harvard University, 1971
Phone: (949) 824-6322, 4747
Fax: (949) 824-2181
University of California, Irvine
465 SH
Mail Code: 2525
Irvine, CA 92697
Research Interests
Behavior, reproduction, and biological oceanography of seabirds
Academic Distinctions
Research Abstract
My laboratory focuses on field studies of behavioral ecology, primarily in the area selection of foraging habitat. The majority of these studies use birds as model organisms, particularly seabirds in polar oceans. Two questions are under investigation: What physical and biological processes are important for determining where marine birds seek their prey? What determines between- and within-colony variation in reproductive performance?

The examination of foraging birds in relation to prey abundance and availability has been the focus of multidisciplinary shipboard studies of marine birds in the Arctic and Antarctic. Here, the emphasis has been on patch selection by birds. Patterns in the distribution and abundance of foraging seabirds have been compared with hydrographic structure and the distribution and abundance of prey as determined by high frequency echosounders and net hauls. In these studies we seek to identify the physical and biological processes that make prey available to predators. Studies planned and in progress include investigation of predator and prey distributions near the Pribilof Islands, Alaska, and avian use of marginal ice zones in Arctic waters.

The ability of organisms to raise young successfully may vary with individual skills or expenditures of energy, with the availability of prey, with location of the nest or territory within the colony habitat, or from one colony to another, possibly as a function of colony size. We have also investigated this fundamental problem by both comparative and manipulative studies of reproductive performance in a variety of species of colonial birds. Investigations have focused on problems such as vulnerability to predation as a function of nest location, costs of raising young as a function of colony size and foraging range, and density of foragers and their relation to prey abundance as a function of colony size.
Mehlum, F., Hunt, G.L., Jr., Klusek, Z., and Decker, M.B. (1999). Scale-dependent correlations between the abundance of Brunnich's Guillemots and their prey. J. Anim. Ecol. 68:60-72.
Hunt, G.L., Jr., Russell, R.W., Coyle, K.O., and Weingartner, T. 1998. Comparative foraging ecology of planktivorous auklets in relation to ocean physics and prey availability. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 167:241-259.
Hunt, G.L., Jr., A.S. Kitaysky, M.B. Decker, D.E. Dragoo, and A.M. Springer. 1996. Changes in the distribution and size of juvenile walleye pollock as indicated by seabid diets at the Pribilof Islands and by bottom trawl surveys in the eastern Bering Sea. NOAA Tech Report Ser. 126:133-147
Hunt, G.L., Jr., K.O. Coyle, S. Hoffman, M.B. Decker, E.N. Flint. 1996. Foraging ecology of short-tailed shearwaters near the Pribilof Inslands, Bering Sea. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 141:1-11.
Mehlum, F., G.L. Hunt, Jr., Z. Klusek, M.B. Decker, and N. Nordland. 1996. The importance of prey aggregations to the distribution of Brunnich's guillemots in Storfjorden, Svalbard. Polar Biol. 16:537-547.
Hunt, G.L., Jr., M.B. Decker, and A.S. Kitaysky. 1996. Fluctuations in the Bering Sea Ecosystem as reflected in the reproductive ecology and diets of kittiwakes on the Pribilof Islands, 1975 to 1990. Pp. 142-153, in S. Greenstreet and M. Tasker, Eds., Aquatic Predators and Thier Prey, Blackwell, London.
Hunt, G.L., D. Heinemann, I. Everson. 1992. Distributions and predator-prey interactions of macaroni penguins, Antarctic fur seals and Antarctic krill near Bird Island, South Georgia. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Series 86: 15-30.
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