Lois Harwood

Image Harwood, Lois
Senior Oceans Biologist- MCT

With a BSc and a curiosity about Arctic marine ecology, my northern career got started in 1980.  It began with five years in the private sector, relating to assessments of oil and gas impacts on upper trophic species in the Beaufort -  this ultimately led me to graduate school in 1986 in Edmonton, where I did a graduate degree on the ecology of ringed seals.   From there, I moved to the north to work and to live, to begin my first job with the Fisheries Joint Management Committee (FJMC).  FJMC is one of several comanagement bodies established under the Inuvialuit Final Agreement, in this case to advise the Minister of DFO on fish and marine mammal matters in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region.   It was a true privilege to work as staff biologist for the FJMC, especially in it's early, formative years.  I continue to live and work in the north, where we raised our family.   

My work has focused on marine mammals, and freshwater and anadromous fishes, of the Beaufort Sea and Amundsen Gulf region, working closely with harvesters and local knowledge holders across decades. Together we have designed, delivered and published a number of long-term research and monitoring projects, which mainly assess trend, status and body condition of beluga whales, ringed seals and Arctic charr.  We have published a review of emerging ecological trends summarizing 2-4 decades of monitoring of different Beaufort Sea species.  Core field research has involved conducting multi-year marine mammal aerial surveys and satellite tagging studies, dating back to 1982, to document the distribution, range and behaviour of bowhead whales and ringed seals in the Canadian Beaufort Sea.  I have published >60 primary research articles, and regularly conduct peer reviews for a range of international and national scientific journals, and for the US government. 

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Current research and/or projects

Ms Harwood joined the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in 1992, as a fisheries management biologist working on fish and marine mammals in Canada's Western Arctic. She is a Research Fellow of the Arctic Institute of North America. Ms. Harwood has been studying marine mammals in the Western Arctic since 1980. Her initial work focused on distribution and behaviour of the bowhead whale, beluga whale and ringed seal during the open water season.

Most of her career has focussed on assessment of trends in ringed seal and beluga body condition and reproduction, working closely with subsistence harvesters. Most recently she was involved in tagging of ringed seals and bowhead whales with satellite linked transmitters, to establish baseline ranges, movements and distribution and behaviour.  

Most recently, Lois has been on a 2 year assignment with DFO's Oceans Division, working on Marine Protected Areas in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region.

Professional activities / interests

Beaufort Sea Beluga Technical Committtee, Original Member (1988), in support of the Inuvialuit-Inupiat Beluga Whale Commission, and previously the Alaska Inuvialuit Beluga Whale Committee

Collaborator with community harvesters, community wildlife management boards in Canada's Western Arctic, specifically FJMC and GRRB

Collaborate with other DFO sectors, in the design and implementioan of a strategy for the mitigation of impacts of seismic surveying on marine mammals in the Beaufort Sea

Coordinator, Second North American Lake Trout Symposium, 2005

Served as Committee Member for graduate students, ringed seals and bowhead whales (ecology topics)

Expert witness for Government of Canada at Mackenzie Gas Pipeline Hearings, and preparation of the Dome/Gulf/Esso EIS docs for Beaufort Sea Marine Mammals

Invited speaker, panelist, national and international meetings, peer reviews internally, nationally and internationally

Science Advisor, Prince of Wales Heritage Center beluga whale exhibit.   Guest lecturer schools, radio, tv, tourism.

Guest Lecturer:  NASA Earth to Sky Enrichment Course, April 2017

Guest Lecturer (independent), Polar Ecology, Crystal Serenity Inaugural Voyage Northwest Passage and West Greenland, August-September 2016

Beluga Summit in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region: invited speaker, panelist, February 2016

Society for Marine Mammalogy, Biennial Marine Mammal Conferences, Dec 2015 and 2017; review abstracts, presentation.

Inupiat-Inuvialuit Polar Bear Commission meeting, presentation on ringed seals to commissions, August 2016

Inupiat-Inuvialuit Beluga Whale Commission Meeting, founding Technical Committee Member and presenter, attendance at IIBSC annually since 2006 and continuing through 2016.

Education and awards

B. Sc., University of Victoria, 1979

M. Sc. (Zoology), University of Alberta, 1989

Canada/Inuvialuit FJMC Co-management Award 2000

Queens Golden Jubilee Medal 2002

Canada/Inuvialuit FJMC Co-management Award 2003

Research Fellow of the Arctic Institute of North America 2004.

US Dept. of Interior Conservation Award 2010

International experience and/or work

  • Collaboratior with Alaska Dept of Fish and Game, Satellite tagging of bowhead whales in the Canadian Beaufort Sea - lead for Canadian Participation 2007-2014
  • Member of the Inuvialuit-Inupiat Beluga Whale Committee, 1988 & the Invialuit-Inupiat Beluga Whale Technical Committee, in support of the II Beluga Whale Commission (2005)
  • Technical reviews, NOAA - proposals to list ringed seal and ringed seal habitat, 2012 and 2015
  • North Pacific Research Board and NOAA, review of project proposals
  • Peer reviews for Global Change Biology, Biology Letters, Arctic Science, Arctic, Behaviour, Endangered Species Research, Oecologica, Journal of Fish Biology, Polar Biology, Deep Sea Research II, Biology Letters, Progress in Oceanography, Coastal and Ocean Management.


Key publications

Harwood, L. A., Quakenbush L. T, Small R. J, George J. C., Pokiak, J., Pokiak, C. Heide-Jørgensen M. P., and Brower H.  2017.   Movements, habitat use, and inferred foraging by bowhead whales in the Canadian Beaufort Sea during August-September, 2006-2012.   Arctic.  


Citta, J.J., S. Okkonen, L.T. Quakenbush, W. Maslowski, R. Osinski, J. C. George, R.J. Small, H. Brower, M.P. Heide-Jørgensen, and L. A. Harwood. 2017.  Oceanographic characteristics associated with autumn movements of bowhead whales in the Chukchi Sea. Deep Sea Research Part II Topical Studies in Oceanography.  In press.


Harwood, L,A., Zhu, X., Angasuk, L., Emaghok, L., Ferguson, S., Gruben, C., Gruben, P., Hall, P., Illasiak, J., Illasiak, J., Inglangasuk, G., Lea, E.V., Loseto, L., Norton, P., Pokiak, C., Pokiak, F., Rogers, H., Snow, K., and Storr, W. 2017. Research, monitoring and hunter knowledge in support of the 2017 assessment of the status of Eastern Beaufort Sea Beluga stock. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2017/nnn. vi + 16 p.  at review


O-Corry-Crowe, G., Mahoney, A.  Suydam, R. Quakenbush, L., Whiting, A., Lowry, L., Ferreira, L., Tazruk, J., Saccheus, C., Harwood, L.   2016.  Genetic profiling links changing sea ice to shifting beluga whale migration patterns.   Biology Letters 12: 20160404.


Xinhua Zhu, Colin P. Gallagher, Kimberly L. Howland, Lois A. Harwood, and Ross F. Tallman.  2016.  Multimodel Assessment of Population Production and Recommendations for Sustainable Harvest Levels of Anadromous Arctic Char, Salvelinus alpinus (L.), from the Hornaday River, Northwest Territories.  Canada, Stock Assessment Secretariat, Research Document 2016/116


Yurkowski, D.J., Semeniuk, C. A. D., Harwood, LA., Asvid-Rosing, A., Dietz, R., Brown, T. M., Clackett, S. Grgicak-Mannion, A. G., Fisk, A., and Ferguson, S. H.   2016.   The influence of sea ice phenology on the movement ecology of ringed seals across their latitudinal range.   Marine Ecology Progress Series.  


Harwood, L. A., Lea, E. V., Raverty, S. J., Hall, P.A., Linn, Postma, L., and Nielsen, O.  2017.   Incidence of beachcast Bowhead Whales in the southeast Beaufort Sea and Amundsen Gulf between 1987 and 2015.  Canadian Field-Naturalist 131(xxxx).. 


Harwood, L.A., Smith, T.G., George, J.C., Sandstrom, S.J., Wojciech, W., and Divoky, G. J.  2015.   Changes in the Beaufort Sea ecosystem: diverging trends in the body condition of marine mammals, seabirds and anadromous char revealed through long-term monitoring.  Progress in Oceanography.  Special Issue, Synthesis of Arctic Research (SOAR). 2015.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pocean.2015.05.003


Harwood, L. A., Smith, T. G., Auld, J. C., Melling, H. and Yurkowski, D.   2015.  Seasonal movements and diving of ringed seals, Pusa hispida, in the western Canadian Arctic, 1999-2002 and 2010-2011.  Arctic 68(2): 193-209.


Harwood, L. A., Kingsley, M.C.S. and Pokiak, F.   2015.  Monitoring beluga harvests in the Mackenzie Delta and near Paulatuk, NT, Canada: harvest efficiency and trend, size and sex of landed whales, and reproduction:  1970 to 2009.  Canadian Manuscript Report Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 3059.  


Roux, M. J., Harwood, L. A., Zhu, X., and Sparling, P. 2015.  Early summer near-shore fish assemblage and environmental correlates in an Arctic estuary:  the Husky Lakes, Northwest Territories Canada.   Journal of Great Lakes Research.  Special Issue.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jglr.2015.04.005


Kissinger, B. C., Gantner, N., Anderson, G. W., Gillis, D. M., Halden, N. H., Harwood, L. A., and Reist, J.D.  2015.  Brackish water residency and semi-anadromy in Arctic Lake Trout (Salvelinus namaycush) inferred from otolith microchemistry.   Journal of Great Lakes Research, Special Issue, Northern Lakes.   Doi 10.1016/j.jglr.2015.05.016


Bellehumeur, C., Nielsen, O., Measures, L., Harwood, L., Goldstein, T., Boyle, B., and Gagnon, C. 2015.  Herpesviruses including novel gammaherpesviruses are widespread among phocid seal species in Canada.  Journal of Wildlife Disease 52 (1): 70-81.     


Harwood, L. A., Kingsley, M. C. S., and Smith, T. G. 2014.  An emerging pattern of declining growth rates in belugas of the Beaufort Sea: 1989–2008.  Arctic 67(4): 483-492.


Harwood, L. A. and Babaluk, J. A.  2014.   Spawning, overwintering and summer feeding habitats used by anadromous Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus) of the Hornaday River, Northwest Territories, Canada.  Arctic 67(4): 449-461.


Harwood, L. A., Iacozza, J., Auld, J. C., Norton, P. and Loseto, L.   2014.  Belugas in the Mackenzie River estuary, NT, Canada: habitat use and hot spots in the Tarium Niryutait Marine Protected Area.   Ocean and Coastal Management 100: 128-138. 


Citta, J., Quakenbush, L. T., Okkonen, S. R., Druckenmiller, M. L. Maslowski, W., Clement-Kinney J., George, J. C., Brower, H., Small, R. J., Ashijan, C. J., Harwood, L. A., and Heide-Jørgensen, M. P.  2014.  Ecological characteristics of core-use areas used by Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort (BCB) bowhead whales, 2006-2012.  Progress in Oceanography.  In press. 


Roux, M.-J., Sparling, P., Felix, J. and Harwood, L. A.  2014.   Ecological Assessment of Husky Lakes and Sitidgi Lake, Northwest Territories, Canada, 2000-2004.   Canadian Technical Report Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 3071.   123 p.


Addison, R.F., Muir, D. C., Ikonomou, M.G., Harwood, L. Smith, T. G., and Alikamik, J.   2014.  Temporal trends in "legacy" organo-chlorine contaminants in blubber of ringed seals (Phoca hispida) from Ulukhaktok, NT, Canada between 1972 and 2010  Science of the Total Environment.  

Harwood, L. A., Sandstrom, S. J., Papst, M. H., and Melling, H.   2013.   Kuujjua River Arctic Charr:  monitoring stock trends using catches from an under-ice subsistence fishery, Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada 1991-2009.  Arctic 66(3): 291-300.


Harwood, L. A. and Kingsley, M.C.S.   2013.   Trends in offshore distribution and relative abundance of Beaufort Sea beluga, 1982-1985 vs 2007-2009.  Arctic 66(3): 247-256.


Bell, R. K. and Harwood, L. A.  2012.   Harvest-based monitoring in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region: Steps for Success.  Arctic 64(4): 421-432.


Gaden, A., Ferguson, S. H., Harwood, L. A., Melling, H., Alikamik, J., Stern, G.   2012.  Western Canadian Arctic Ringed Seal Organic Contaminant Trends in Relation to Sea Ice Break-Up.   H. Melling; J. Alikamik; G. A. Stern Environmental Science & Technology DOI: 10.1021/es204127j


Harwood, L. A., Smith, T. G., Auld, J. C.   2012.  Fall migration of ringed seals (Phoca hispida) through the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, 2001-2002.   Arctic 65(1):  35-44. 


Harwood, L. A., Smith, T. G., Melling, H., Alikamik, J., and Kingsley, M.C.S.  2012.    Ringed seals and sea ice in Canada’s Western Arctic:  harvest-based monitoring 1992-2011.  Arctic 65(4): 377-390.


Walkusz, W., Williams, W.J., Harwood, L. A., Moore, S. E., Stewart, B. E., and Kwasniewski, S.  2012.    Composition, biomass and energetic content of biota in the vicinity of feeding bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) in the Cape Bathurst upwelling region (south eastern Beaufort Sea).  Deep-sea Research I 69: 25-35.   


Harwood, L., Joynt, A.A., Kennedy, D., Pitt, R., and Moore, S. E.  2010. Spatial restrictions and temporal planning as measures to mitigate potential effects of seismic noise on cetaceans: a working example from the Canadian Beaufort Sea, 2007-2008. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2009/040. iv + 14 p.


Harwood, L.A., Auld, J. C., Joynt, A. A., and Moore, S.E.   2010.  Distribution of bowhead whales in the SE Beaufort Sea during late summer, 2007-2009. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2009/111. v + 22 p.


Harwood, L.A., and Joynt, A, A.  2009. Factors influencing the effectiveness of Marine Mammal Observers on seismic vessels, with examples from the Canadian Beaufort Sea. DFO Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat Research Document 2009/048. iv + 9 p.


Gaden, A., Ferguson, S.H., Harwood, L.A., Melling, H., and G. Stern.   2009.  Mercury trends in ringed seals (Phoca hispida) from the western Canadian Arctic since 1973: associations with sea ice duration.   Environmental Science & Technology 10.1021/es803293z.  6p. 


Addison, R.F., D.C.G. Muir, M.G. Ikonomou, Harwood, L. A., and Smith, T. G.  2009. Hexachlorocyclohexanes (HCH) in ringed seal (Phoca hispida) from Ulukhaktok (Holman), T: trends from 1978 to 2006.  Science of the Total Environment 407; p. 5139-5146.   10.1016/j.scitotenv


Harwood, L. A., Pokiak, F., and Walker-Larsen, J.   2008.  Assessment of the subsistence fishery and biological data for Arctic cisco in Tuktoyaktuk Harbour, NT, Canada, 1997-1999.   Canadian Manuscript Report Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 2845: ix + 31 p.


Harwood, L. A., Smith, T. G., and Melling, H.  2007.  Assessing the potential effects of near shore hydrocarbon exploration on ringed seals in the Beaufort Sea Region 2003-2006.  Environmental Studies Research Funds Report No. 162:  103 p.


Lockhart, W. L., Stern, G.A., Wagemann, R., Hunt, R.V., Metner, D. A., DeLaronde, J., Dunn, B., Stewart, R. E. A., Hyatt, C. K., Harwood, L.A., and Mount, K. 2005.   Concentrations of mercury in liver of beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) from the Canadian Arctic from 1981 to 2002.   Science of the Total Environment 351: 391-412. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016%2fj.scitotenv.2005.01.050


Stern, G.A., Macdonald, C.R., Dunn, B., Fuchs, C., Harwood, L. A., Rosenberg, B., Muir, D.C.G., and Rosenberg, B. 2005.  Spatial trends and factors affecting variation of organochlorine contaminants levels in Canadian Arctic beluga (Delphinapterus leucas).  Science of the Total Environment 351:344-368.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1016%2fj.scitotenv.2004.10.033


Harwood, L.A., McLaughlin, F., Allen, R. M., Illasiak, J. and Alikamik, J.   2004.  First-ever marine mammal and bird observations in the deep Canada Basin and Beaufort/Chukchi seas: expeditions during 2002.   Polar Biology 28: 250-253.


Harwood, L.A., P. Norton, B. Day, and P. Hall.  2002. The harvest of beluga whales in Canada’s Western Arctic: hunter-based monitoring of the size and composition of the catch.  Arctic 55:10-20.


Harwood, L.A. and T.G. Smith.   2002. Whales of the Beaufort Sea: an overview and outlook.   Arctic 55 (Supplement 1): 77-93. 


Clark, I.D., Lauriol, B., Harwood, L. and Marschner, M.   2001. Groundwater contributions to discharge in a permafrost setting, Big Fish River, N.W.T., Canada. Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research 33(1) : 62-69. 

Smith, T.G. and L.A. Harwood.  2001. Observations of neonate ringed seals, Phoca hispida, after early break-up of the sea ice in Prince Albert Sound, N.T. Canada, spring 1998.  Polar Biology 24: 215-219.


Harwood, L.A., T.G. Smith, and H. Melling.  2000. Variation in reproduction and condition of the ringed seal (Phoca hispida) in Prince Albert Sound, N.T., Canada, as assessed through a community-based sampling program. Arctic 53 (4): 422-431.


Orr, J. R. and L.A. Harwood.  1998. Possible aggressive behaviour between a narwhal (Monodon monoceros) and a beluga (Delphinapterus leucas).   Marine Mammal Science 14(1): 182-185.


Harwood, L.A., Innes, S., Norton, P. and Kingsley, M.C.S.  1996. Distribution and abundance of beluga whales in the Mackenzie Estuary, southeast Beaufort Sea, and west Amundsen Gulf during late July 1992.  Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 53: 2262-2273.


Adams, M., Frost, K.J., and Harwood, L.A.  1993.  Alaska and Inuvialuit Beluga Whale Committee (AIBWC) – An Initiative in “at home management”.  Arctic 46(2): 134-137.


Harwood, L.A. And Stirling, I. 1992. Distribution of ringed seals in the southeastern Beaufort Sea during late summer. Canadian Journal of Zoology 70(5):891-900.


Society for Marine Mammalogy

Arctic Institute of North America

Centre(s) of Expertise: