Kristie Nelson

Mono Lake California Gull Project Manager

As project manager of California Gull research at Mono Lake, I handle the annual monitoring of the population size and reproductive success of the California Gull colony at Mono Lake. I am honored to maintain one of Point Blue’s longest continually-run monitoring projects. I organize a volunteer team to help collect field data, and find it rewarding to see volunteers connect with gulls, Mono Lake, and field work.

My research interests include analyzing the environmental influences on gull reproductive success, and examining population dynamics. The long-term nature of this project is a powerful tool for assessing the conditions at Mono Lake, and may be useful to help understand how wildlife populations respond to ecological change that manifests over longer periods (e.g. climate change). As a species dependent on two vastly different ecosystems – a Great Basin saline lake for breeding and coastal, pelagic wintering grounds – I find the California Gull a fascinating species to study.

I’ve been obsessively passionate about birds since I was a little girl. Luckily, my parents and teachers supported that passion, and to this day, few things bring me more joy than to be immersed in nearly anything bird-related. After receiving a Bachelor’s of Science in Wildlife Biology from Humboldt State University in 2000, I came to Point Blue as an intern with the Eastern Sierra project and I have worked seasonally for Point Blue in the Eastern Sierra (and usually some time annually on the Farallones) ever since. I have overseen the Mono Lake gull research since 2005.

When not involved in gull research or other Eastern Sierra Point Blue projects, I am usually birding, preparing taxidermy specimens, or helping my husband on our small organic farm. I live near Lee Vining, a small community nestled between Yosemite and Mono Lake.