George Hunt, Jr.

  • Research Professor

Research areas

My research focuses on how climate variability affects polar marine ecosystems. I have conducted studies of polar marine ecosystems in the Antarctic, the Atlantic Arctic, the Pacific Arctic and the Bering Sea. My early career focused on the reproductive behavior and ecology of marine birds in temperate waters. My focus then shifted to how marine birds were able to forage successfully in marine waters where the average density of prey appeared too low to support them. This work led to a number of research expeditions to polar waters where we examined how the interactions between the behavior of zooplankton and physical processes in the ocean led to high concentrations of prey at depths available to marine birds. I am currently working with colleagues to complete several retrospective analyses of marine bird distributions in the eastern Bering Sea to determine how they respond to features of the marine environment and how their distributions and abundances have changed during the past 40 years.

My colleagues and I have also been examining how climate variability can affect the transfer of primary production to zooplankton and eventually, fish, marine birds and mammals.These studies have involved interdisciplinary field programs and the syntheses of data from the Bering Sea, the Chukchi Sea and the Barents Sea. Work within the Bering Sea has led to the development of conceptual models of how variability in the timing of sea ice retreat affects the recruitment of zooplankton, and subsequently the recruitment of fish –– in particular, walleye pollock, the basis for the largest commercial fishery in the United States. As part of these studies, we have examined mechanisms where climate variability affects the productivity of these seas, and how climate change may affect them in the long run.

I am not accepting new students at this time.

Areas of Expertise

  • Climate variability and marine ecosystems
  • Polar marine ecology
  • Marine bird ecology and behavior

Community Engagement and Awards

Advisory Boards

  • Scientific and Statistical Committee, North Pacific Fishery Management Council
  • Science Steering Committee, Ecosystem Studies of Sub-Arctic Seas (ESSAS)
  • Science Advisory Board, Alaska SeaLife Center, Seward


  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Fellow, American Ornithologists Union
  • Life time Achievement Award, Pacific Seabird Group
  • Life time Achievement Award in Ecology, PRBO Conservation

Selected publications