Robert W. Elner 

Adjunct Professor

B.Sc. (Hons) Newcastle upon Tyne (1974)
Ph.D.Wales (1977)

Pacific Wildlife Research Centre

Canadian Wildlife Service
Environment Canada

RR #1, 5421 Robertson Road
Delta, British Columbia

Phone: (604) 940-4674; Fax: (604) 946-7022


Bob Elner‰s doctoral thesis involved an investigation of predation behaviour and optimal foraging strategy by the shore (green) crab (Carcinus maenas) on various molluscan prey.He spent two years (1977-1979) as a NRC Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO)Atlantic Biological Station, St. Andrews, New Brunswick, beginning a continuing research interest in reproductive behaviour and coastal ecology.His postdoctoral research concentrated on experimental studies of crab:lobster interactions.He became a DFO Research Scientist at St. Andrews in 1979 with responsibilities for lobster and commercial crab fisheries assessments.Between 1984 and 1990, he relocated to the DFO Halifax Fisheries Research Laboratory, Nova Scotia.During that time, hetaught three summer courses on tropical marine ecology/invertebrates at the Bermuda Biological Station for Research Inc..He continued working on crab and lobster fisheries but devoted increasing time to studies on crab reproduction, sea urchins and the philosophy of ecology.Much of this research involved faculty and graduate students from the universities of Guelph, Moncton, Dalhousie, Maine at Orono and Washington, Seattle.He moved to the DFO Pacific Biological Station, Nanaimo, British Columbia, in 1990 to work on abalone.In 1991, he switched fields from invertebrates to birds and joined Environment Canada‰s Canadian Wildlife Service as a Research Manager and Head of the Ecosystem Research Section at the Pacific Wildlife Research Centre, Delta, British Columbia.He provides scientific leadership to teams working to understand ecological processes regulating migratory bird populations.Studies are directed onto Forest and Grassland Birds, Marine and Coastal Birds, Wetland Birds and Endangered Species in British Columbia and throughout the Americas.The research is necessarily multidisciplinary and international in-scope and strongly linked with academia.The objective is to provide the scientific advice necessary to conserve migratory bird populations, their habitats and the ecosystems they represent.He participates in collaborative studies in Canada, the U.S.A., Mexico, Panama and Ecuador, and has special interest in the feeding behaviour, ecology, functional morphology and natural diet of calidrid sandpipers.

He supervises Postdoctoral Fellows and serves on advisory committees of graduate students affiliated with the Canadian Wildlife Chair of Wildlife Ecology at Simon Fraser University and the Centre for Conservation Biology at the University of British Columbia. 


Foraging (theory, behaviour, natural diet, biomechanics):

Elner, R.W. and R.N. Hughes.1978.Energy maximization in the diet of the shore crab, Carcinus maenas (L.).Journal of Animal Ecology 47: 103-116.

Elner, R.W. and A. Campbell.1981.Force, function and mechanical advantage in the chelae of the American lobster, Homarus americanus.Journal of Zoology; London 193: 269-286.

Elner, R.W. and A. Campbell.1987.Natural diets of lobster, Homarus americanus, from barren ground and macroalgal habitats off southwestern Nova Scotia, Canada.Marine Ecology Progress Series 37: 131-140.

Smith, T., R.C. Ydenberg and R.W. Elner.1999.Foraging behaviour of an excavating predator, the red rock crab (Cancer productus Randall) on soft-shell clam (Mya arenaria L.).Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 238: 185-197.

Sutherland, T.F., P.C.F. Shepherd and R.W. Elner.2000.Predation on meiofaunal and macrofaunal invertebrates by western sandpipers (Calidris mauri): evidence for dual foraging modes.Marine Biology (in press).


Beninger, P.G., R.W. Elner, T.P. Foyle, and P.H. Odense.1988.Functional anatomy of the male reproductive system and the female spermatheca in the snow crab Chionoecetes opilio O. Fabricius (Decapoda:Majidae) and a hypothesis for fertilization.Journal of Crustacean Biology 8: 322-332.

Elner, R.W. and P.G. Beninger. 1995.Multiple reproductive strategies in snow crab, Chionoecetes opilio: physiological pathways and behavioural plasticity.Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 193: 93-112.

Population Processes and Ecology:

Elner, R.W. and R.F.J. Bailey.1986.Differential susceptibility of Atlantic snow crab, Chionoecetes opilio, stocks to management.Canadian Special Publication of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 92: 335-346.

Elner, R.W. and R.L. Vadas.1990.Inference in ecology:the sea urchin phenomenon in the Northwest Atlantic.American Naturalist 136: 108-125.

Elner, R.W. and A.Campbell.1991.Spatial and temporal patterns in recruitment for American lobster, Homarus americanus, in the Northwestern Atlantic, In: Proceedings of the International Crustacean Conference Brisbane, Australia, July 1990.Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 31: 349-363.

Vadas, R.L. and R.W. Elner.1992.Plant-animal interactions in the north-west Atlantic, In:Plant-Animal Interactions in the Marine Benthos.D.M. John, S.J. Hawkins, and J.H. Price (Eds).Oxford University Press, Oxford, Systematics Association Special Volume 46: p.33-60.
Jamieson, G.S., E.D. Grosholz, D.A. Armstrong and R.W. Elner.1998.Potential ecological implications from the introduction of the European green crab, Carcinus maenas (Linneaus) to British Columbia, Canada, and Washington, USA.Journal of Natural History 32: 1587-1598.

Last updated on 26 Dec, 2002. Contact CWE webmaster.