Joanna Burger is a behavioral ecologist whose primary interests are in the adaptive significance of social behavior in vertebrates, ecological risk, and biomonitoring. In the area of social behavior she works mainly with marine and coastal birds, including the effects of people and chemicals on reproductive success and ecology of colonial species. Her work on reptiles involves examining hibernation behavior and behavior influenced by incubation temperature, including locomotion, anti-predator behavior, foraging, and over-wintering.
For several years she has been examining patterns of heavy metal distribution worldwide, using avian and eggs feathers as indicators. This ongoing work involves examining the effects of low level lead, chromium and manganese exposure (similar to what children get when they eat lead paint) on behavior development of Herring Gulls, both in the field and in the laboratory. Her work with ecological risk assessment has included many different species and habitats. Some of her work involves using the Department of Energy as a case study to examine ecological health, ecological risk, and species protection. She is currently working at the Department of Energy's sites, including Hanford, Los Alamos, Idaho National Laboratory, Brookhaven, Amchitka and the Savannah River Site, developing ecological risk methodologies. She has served on several National Research Council Committees, the U.S. National SCOPE Committee, the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Endocrine Disruptors, and has participated in several international SCOPE committees on ecological risk, mercury, and hazardous wastes. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Ornithologist's Union, and of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry. She holds an honorary PhD from the University of Alaska at Fairbanks. She has received the Distinguished Achievement from the Society of Risk Analysis and the Brewster Medal from the American Ornithologist Union.
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