Don Bowen

Research Scientist, Emeritus

My research includes behavioural, physiological and demographic studies on pinnipeds to better understanding the consequences of variation in life history traits on population dynamics. I conduct population assessments of marine mammals. I also study the potential impacts of seal predation on fish stocks and the ecosystem impacts of commercial fisheries in the context of sustainable fisheries.


Current research and/or projects

I conduct comparative studies on reproduction, foraging ecology, and population dynamics of seals in relation to juvenile and adult phenotype and environmental variability. The main goals of this research are to provide science advice on the effects of seals on marine ecosystems and to integrate multi-disiplinary studies to gain a better understanding of how life history traits evolve in large marine carnivores.

To understand the role of seals in large marine ecosystems, I study the spatial and temporal distribution of foraging and diets. I also monitor trends in the number of harbour seal and grey seal pups born on Sable Island. These data, coupled with long-term changes in reproductive performance and survival, are used to determine how seal populations respond to environmental variability and human activities.

Finally, growth of the grey seal population has raised concerns about the potential impact of grey seal predation on commercially important fish and invertebrate stocks in eastern Canada. Thus, we have been using our data on the population dynamics, distribution of foraging, diets and energy requirements to develop models of the possible impacts of grey seals on prey populations. More generally, this work will provide a useful model for the impact of marine carnivores on prey populations.

Research and/or project statements

Professional activities / interests

Professor at:

  • Dalhousie University

Education and awards

Ph.D. Resource Ecology, University of British Columbia, 1978

Msc. Zoology, University of Guelph, 1972

Key publications