John Neill

Avian Biologist, Great Salt Lake Ecosystem Program

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources


John Neill works with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources as an Avian Biologist for the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem Program, which manages the sustainable harvest of brine shrimp from the lake through research and monitoring. He began with the program in 2001 and developed a deep appreciation of Great Salt Lake and its abundant life by conducting lake-wide studies of waterbirds. John received a B.A. in geology combined with environmental studies at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington and B.S. in biology at the University of Utah

TitleGunnison Island, Pelicans, and Satellites

Friday, May 11th, 9:15 AM

Abstract:  Gunnison Island in the northwest arm of Great Salt Lake is home to one of the largest breeding colonies of American white pelicans within its North American range. Regular surveys of the pelican population on the island, beginning in 1972, now include 42 years of information. Regional pelican populations appear to be doing well with the establishment and growth of nearby colonies leading to problems associated with the consumption of protected fish species and the danger of potential bird-airplane collisions; however, recent drought in Utah threatens the Gunnison Island pelican colony by turning it into a peninsula accessible by land-based disturbances. Pelican population and productivity data from Gunnison Island will be shared along with the results of other pelican research including diet analyses, West Nile Virus and heavy metals testing in pelicans, and tracking efforts at Great Salt Lake and Strawberry Reservoir with the aid of leg bands, wing tags, and GPS satellite transmitters.


Why We Care

  • Sunday evening in March 2016, our family visited Black Rock Beach to view the Great Salt Lake. My one year old son just loved running up and down the beach, and touching his toes in the salty water. It was evening and as the sun settled in the west, the lake came alive with previously hidden texture and beauty. We watched in awe as the magnificence of the lake reviled itself, and I just had to capture the moment with my camera.

    Julie Meadows, Alfred Lambourne Prize Participant