elizabeth burgess

Elizabeth Burgess, Ph.D.

Research Scientist I and Chair, Wildlife and Ocean Health Program

T: 617-226-2175



Ph.D., Marine Biology, The University of Queensland, Australia, 2013
M.Sc. (Hons), Marine Ecology, Massey University, New Zealand, 2007
B.Sc. (Hons), Zoology, The University of Queensland, 2001


Liz Burgess, Ph.D., specializes in the development and application of noninvasive tools for monitoring marine wildlife. She moved from Australia to join the team in 2013 to pioneer novel techniques for measuring reproductive and stress hormones of free-swimming whales, using their exhaled respiratory vapor or “blow.”

Her research on hormones enables us to understand reproductive viability and pregnancy, as well as nutritional and stress responses that are necessary for an animal’s survival in a changing environment. With expertise in both laboratory and field methods, Liz has unique experience collecting samples from a variety of difficult-to-study species, including sea turtles, dugongs, manatees, baleen whales, sperm whales, and even beaked whales. She has participated in a number of conservation programs around the world, in collaboration with government managers, nongovernment organizations, scientists, and industry stakeholders.

Liz’s goal in conservation is to use vital physiological biomarkers (in combination with habitat and disturbance measures) to evaluate the health of threatened individuals and populations and, ultimately, to provide evidence-based science on the effects and consequences of increasing human impacts in the ocean.

  1. Select Publications

    Burgess E.A., Hunt K.E., Kraus S.K. and Rolland R.M. (2017) Adrenal responses of large whales: integrating fecal aldosterone as a complementary biomarker to glucocorticoids. General and Comparative Endocrinology 252:103-110. doi.org/10.1016/j.ygcen.2017.07.026

    Burgess E.A., Hunt K.E., Kraus S.K. and Rolland R.M. (2016) Get the most out of blow hormones: Validation of sampling materials, field storage, and extraction techniques for whale respiratory vapor samples. Conservation Physiology 4: cow024. doi.org/10.1093/conphys/cow024

    Lanyon J.M. and Burgess E.A. (2014) Methods to examine reproductive biology in free-ranging, fully-marine mammals. In: Reproductive Sciences in Animal Conservation: Progress and Prospects. Holt WV, Brown JL and Comizzoli P (eds). Springer, New York. p.241–274. doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4939-0820-2_11

    Burgess E.A., Lanyon J.M. and Brown J.L. (2013) Sex, scarring, and stress: Understanding seasonal costs in a cryptic marine mammal. Conservation Physiology 1: cot014. doi.org/10.1093/conphys/cot014

    Burgess E.A., Blanshard W.H., Barnes A.D., Gilchrist S., Keeley T., Chua J. and Lanyon J.M. (2013) Reproductive hormone monitoring of dugongs in captivity: Detecting the onset of sexual maturity in a cryptic marine mammal. Animal Reproduction Science 140: 255–267. doi.org/10.1016/j.anireprosci.2013.06.005

    Burgess E.A., Lanyon J.M. and Keeley T. (2012) Testosterone and tusks: Maturation and seasonal reproductive patterns of live free-ranging dugongs (Dugong dugon) in a subtropical population. Reproduction 143(5): 683–697. doi.org/10.1530/REP-11-0434

    Burgess E.A., Lanyon J.M., Brown J.L., Blyde D. and Keeley T. (2012) Diagnosing pregnancy in free-ranging dugongs using fecal progesterone metabolite concentrations and body morphometrics: A population assessment. General and Comparative Endocrinology 177(1): 82–92. doi.org/10.1016/j.ygcen.2012.02.008

    Burgess E.A., Booth D.T. and Lanyon J.M. (2006) Swimming performance of hatchling green turtles is affected by incubation temperature. Coral Reefs 25: 341-349. doi.org/10.1007/s00338-006-0116-7

  2. News

  3. Awards

    2017 American Australian Association Sir Keith Murdoch Scholarship

    2017 Christine Stevens Award – Animal Welfare Institute