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Sarah Peterson

Dr. Sarah Peterson is a Wildlife Biologist at the Dixon Field Station.

She is broadly interested in the ecology and movement of upper trophic level predators, with a focus on birds and mammals. Additionally, she is interested in the interplay between foraging ecology and both contaminant bioaccumulation and toxicological risk. She conducted her PhD at UC Santa Cruz, where she examined how ecology and physiology influence contaminant bioaccumulation (mercury and persistent organic pollutants) in seals and sea lions. 

Currently, she works as part of a large collaborative research effort to study ground-nesting waterfowl at the Grizzly Island Wildlife Area. She leads a portion of the study that quantifies survival and movement of ducklings, using VHF radio-telemetry. She also quantifies the space use and movements of raccoons and skunks around duck nests using GPS technology.


  • Ph.D. 2015. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. University of California Santa Cruz, CA (UCSC)
  • M.Sc. 2008. Marine and Estuarine Science. Dept. of Biology. Western Washington University, WA (WWU)
  • B.A. 2005. Biology and Environmental Studies. Whitman College, WA

Professional Research Experience

  • Wildlife Biologist, USGS, Western Ecological Research Center (2015–present)
  • Doctoral Researcher, Ecology, Physiology & Conservation of Marine Animals Lab, Dept. of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UCSC (2010–2015)
  • Biological Technician (shorebird & seabird research), USGS, Western Ecological Research Center (2010)
  • Biological Technician & Volunteer, Yellowstone Gray Wolf Recovery Program, Yellowstone National Park (2008–2009 & 2015)
  • Masters Research, Marine Mammal Ecology Lab, Dept. of Biology, WWU (2006–2008)
  • Graduate Student Research Assistant, Marine Mammal Ecology Lab, Dept. of Biology, WWU (2007)
  • Biological Researcher, Ecological Research Station, Öland, Sweden (2004)
  • Field Assistant, Botswana Wild Dog Research Camp, Botswana, Africa (2003)

Outreach and Education

  • Graduate Student TA, Dept. of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UCSC (2011, 2014 & 2015)
  • Naturalist & Kayak Guide, CA, WA, & southeast AK (2005–2015)
  • Graduate Student TA, Dept. of Biology, WWU (2007–2008)
  • GK-12 National Science Foundation Fellow (graduate students in K-12 education), Dept. of Biology, WWU (2006–2007)
  • Science Instructor, The Ocean Institute, CA (2005–2006)