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Dr. Julie Hagelin, Swathmore College

Pheromones in Crested Auklets (2000 - present)

The Aquarium has provided Dr. Hagelin with a rare opportunity to study several unique aspects of Crested Auklet biology that are otherwise impossible in the wild. The Aquarium’s collection of Auklets is available for study year-round, while wild birds disperse far offshore in the Bering Sea during winter months.

Analyses of scent production in aquarium birds established that the tangerine odor was, indeed, only present during breeding. The data also revealed key chemical components of the tangerine scent. Dr. Hagelin’s work on the seasonality of auklet odor has been submitted for publication in the premier international science journal Nature.

Dr. Hagelin intends to continue her work with our birds. This research may, in fact, help with the captive propagation of Crested Auklets at the Aquarium. Her research will also give us a better understanding of why chemical signals evolve, what they mean and how they function as an animal signal. In the long term, Dr. Hagelin’s basic research may enable scientists to more accurately predict the breeding success of wild populations in a non-intrusive way. Fluctuations of Crested Auklet populations are an important indicator of global warming and the health of Arctic oceans.