Juan José Alava

JJAlava-picturePostdoctoral Research Fellow
Changing Ocean Research Unit (CORU)
Fisheries Economics Research Unit (FERU)
Global Fisheries Cluster

PhD (School of Resource and Environmental Management, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada), 2011
MEERM (School of Ocean, Earth and Environment, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA), 2004.
BSc. Biology (Biology School, Universidad de Guayaquil, Ecuador), 1996.
Certificate, University Teaching and Learning for Graduate Students, (Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University. Burnaby, BC, Canada) 2009.
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, School of Resource and Environmental Management, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada. 2011-2015.

Research Interests

My research interests and fields of academic expertise are broad, including marine eco-toxicology, ocean conservation and pollution, environmental toxicology and chemistry, food web bioaccumulation modeling of pollutants (Bioaccumulation Science), sea turtles and marine mammals’ eco-toxicology, marine ecology, conservation biology, tropical biodiversity and ecology, fishery science and management, impact of climate change and acidification in marine organisms and fisheries, population dynamics and conservation of marine mammals, biology and conservation of marine mammals, seabirds and sea turtles, field ornithology; aquatic microbiology; eco-toxicological risk assessment; environmental impact assessments and environmental policy, public health, tropical parasitology and environmental/conservation medicine.


Dr. Juan José Alava is originally from Ecuador and came to Canada in 2005. He is a marine eco-toxicologist and conservation biologist and his current research envisions the assessment and food-web modelling of pollutants’ bioaccumulation and interaction of climate change and anthropogenic pollution in the ocean and marine food webs. In addition to his postdoctoral research fellowship (Mitacs) at IOF (UBC), he works as a Research Scientist at the Ocean Pollution Research Program (OPRP), Coastal Ocean Research Institute (CORI), Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre (partner institution). He also serves as an Adjunct Professor at the School of Resource and Environmental Management (Faculty of Environment), Simon Fraser University (SFU) where he obtained his PhD in 2011. Alava holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Universidad de Guayaquil, Ecuador (1996), and a Master of Earth and Environmental Resource Management from the University of South Carolina, Columbia, USA (Fulbright Scholarship, 2002-2004). From 1995 to 2002, he started working as a Microbiology Research Assistant at the Instituto Nacional de Higiene y Medicina Tropical (National Institute of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) of Ecuador, then as a Wildlife Biologist for Fundación Natura (Guayaquil Chapter) and as a field biologist specialized in environmental impact assessments at the Center of Environmental Studies, Superior Polytechnic School (CEMA, Centro de Estudios de Medio Ambiente, ESPOL, Guayaquil, Ecuador). He has taught diverse courses as a teaching assistant and sessional instructor in both SFU and Royal Roads University. His research has involved the assessment of pollutants, biomagnification, and health effects of persistent organic pollutants (POPs such as DDTs and PCBs) in endangered Galapagos sea lion pups of the Galapagos Islands and food web bioaccumulation modeling in threatened marine mammals (killer whales, Steller sea lions) from British Columbia. More recently, he conducted modelling work on PBDE bioaccumulation and readioecology/bioaccumulation of Cesium 137 in the regional food web of fish-eating (resident) killer whales of BC. Previous research fronts have included the assessment of mercury and PFOS in abiotic (sediments) and biotic (lichens and seabird feathers) samples from the Antarctic Peninsula, as well as organic mercury accumulation in sediments and organisms of the Guayaquil Gulf Estuary (Ecuador) in close collaboration with the Superior Polytechnic School (ESPOL). He is a collaborating scientist of the Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands and the current Science Director (volunteer position) of Fundación Ecuatoriana para El Estudio de Mamíferos Marinos (Ecuadorian Foundation for the Study of Marine Mammals-FEMM). Alava has been involved as an environmental consultant for several environmental private firms in British Columbia and was also a research associate contractor with the Institute of Ocean Sciences, DFO, Canada. He has published more than 50 peer reviewed publications and was selected as an active member of the Academia of Sciences of Ecuador in 2014 (selected by an Inter-American Committee). In 2015, he and his family became Canadian citizens.

Contact Information

Email: j.alava@oceans.ubc.ca

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  • Sessional Instructor: Ecology and Conservation of Coastal British Columbia (REM 375), School of Resource and Environmental Management, Faculty of Environment Simon Fraser University (Spring 2015).
  • Instructor: Environmental Chemistry (ENSC 306), School of Environment and Sustainability, Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences, Royal Roads University (12 February 2013 − 31 July 2013)
  • Sessional Instructor: Environmental Science and Global Changes. China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED), Management for Environment & Development Training Program. International Development/SFU International & Faculty of Environment, Simon Fraser University (Summer 2013)
  • Sessional Instructor: Applied Ecology and Sustainable Environments (REM 311), School of Resource and Environmental Management, Faculty of Environment Simon Fraser University (Spring 2012/Spring 2013)
  • Sessional Instructor: Chemical Pesticides and the Environment (BISC 432), Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, Simon Fraser University (Fall 2012
  • Sessional Instructor: Global Changes (REM 100), School of Resource and Environmental Management, Simon Fraser University (Fall 2011)
  • Sessional Instructor: Environmental Science, Pollution and Global Changes. China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED), Management for Environment & Development Training Program, International Development/SFU International & Faculty of Environment, Simon Fraser University (Summer 2011)
  • External Teaching Assistant: General Biology, (BISC 102), Department of Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University (Summer 2011)
  • Co-Instructor/Advisor for direct studies course (ENV 489) at the School of Resource and Environmental Management, Simon Fraser University (Spring 2011)
  • Teaching Assistant: Environmental Risk Assessment and Management of Hazardous Substances, (REM 445), School of Resource and Environmental Management, Simon Fraser University (Fall 2009)
  • Sessional Instructor: Population Dynamics (BISC 407), Department of Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University (Spring 2007)
  • Teaching Assistant: Global Changes (REM 100), School of Resource and Environmental Management, Simon Fraser University (Fall 2006/Spring 2007)
  • Teacher of Zoology and Ecological Projects: Latin-American Christian University, School of Ecotourism, Guayaquil, Ecuador (August 2000-August 2001)

Selected Publications:

Alava, J.J., Gobas, F.A.C. 2016. Modeling 137 Cs bioaccumulation in the salmon–resident killer whale food web of the Northeastern Pacific following the Fukushima Nuclear Accident. Science of the Total Environment 544:56-67.

Alava, J.J., Ross, P.S., Gobas, A.P.C. 2016. Food web bioaccumulation model for resident killer whales from the Northeastern Pacific Ocean as a tool for the derivation of PBDE-Sediment Quality Guidelines. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 70(1):155-168. DOI: 10.1007/s00244-015-0215-y

Alava, N., Calle, N., Alava, J.J. 2015. Inshore feeding behavior of blue footed boobies Sula nebouxii at Manta, Ecuador, during warming conditions in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. Marine Ornithology 43(2): 165–167

Jiménez, P.J., Alava, J.J., 2015. Strand-feeding by coastal bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the Gulf of Guayaquil, Ecuador. Latin American Journal of Aquatic Mammals 10(1): 33-37. http://dx.doi.org/10.5597/lajam00191

Calle, P., Alvarado, O.; Monserrate, L.; Cevallos, J.M.; Calle, N.L., Alava, J.J. 2015. Mercury accumulation in sediments and seabird feathers from the Antarctic Peninsula. Marine Pollution Bulletin 91: 410-417.

Alava, J.J. and Silberg, J.N. 2014. Delisted whales good news for pipeline. Science 345 (6194): 278-279

Schiller, L.L.; Alava, J.J., Grove, J.S.; Reck, G., Pauly, D. 2014. The Demise of Darwin’s Fishes: Evidence of fishing down and illegal shark finning in the Galápagos Islands. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 24(3) doi: 10.1002/aqc.2458

Alava, J.J., Calle, N. 2013. Drilling Plans Endanger Yasuni’s Biodiversity. Science 342: 931-932.

Hickie, B.E., Cadieux, M., Riehl, K., Bossart, G.D., Alava, J.J., Fair, P.A. 2013. Modeling PCB-Bioaccumulation in the Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus): Estimating a Dietary Threshold Concentration. Environmental Science and Technology 47: 12314-12324.

Alava, J.J., Smith, K. J., O’Hern, J., Alarcόn, D., Haase, B., Merlen G., Denkinger, J. 2013. Observations of killer whale (Orcinus orca) attacks on Bryde’s whales (Balaenoptera edeni) in the Galapagos Islands. Aquatic Mammals. 39(2):93-98.

Alava, J.J., Ross, P.S., Lachmuth, C.L., Ford, J.K.B., Hickie, B.E., Gobas, F.A.P.C. 2012. Habitat-based PCB Environmental Quality Criteria for the Protection of Endangered Killer Whales (Orcinus orca). Environmental Science and Technology 46: 12655−12663.

Alava, J.J. 2012. Cetaceans: Monitor sea pollution to stop strandings. Nature 486:323.

Alava, J.J., Barragan, M.J., Denkinger, J. 2012. Assessing the impact of bycatch on Ecuadorian humpback whale breeding stock: a Review with Management Recommendations. Ocean and Coastal Management 57: 34-43

Páez-Rosas, D., David Aurioles-Gamboa, D., Alava, J.J., Palacios, D.M. 2012. Stable isotopes indicate differing foraging strategies in two sympatric otariids of the Galapagos Islands. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 424-425:44-52.

Alava, J.J., Lambourn, D., Olesiuk, P., Lance, M., Jeffries,S., Gobas, F.A.P.C., Ross, P. S. 2012. PBDE flame retardants and PCBs in migrating Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus) in the Strait of Georgia, British Columbia, Canada. Chemosphere. 88:855-864.

Alava, J.J., Keller, J.M., Wyneken, J., Crowder, L., Scott, G.I. Kucklick, J.R. 2011. Geographical variation of Persistent Organic Pollutants in eggs of threatened loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) from Southeastern USA. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 30: 1677-1688

Alava, J.J.; Ross, P. S.; Ikonomou, M. G., Cruz, M., Jimenez-Uzcategui, G., Salazar, S., Costa, D. P., Villegas-Amtmann, S., Howorth, P., Gobas, F.A.P.C. 2011. DDT in endangered Galapagos Sea Lions (Zalophus wollebaeki). Marine Pollution Bulletin 62: 660-671

Alava, J.J.; Salazar, S., Cruz, M., Jimenez-Uzcategui, G., Villegas-Amtmann, S., Paez-Rosas, D., Costa, D. P., Ross, P. S.; Ikonomou, M. G., Gobas, F.A.P.C. 2011. DDT Strikes Back: Galapagos Sea Lions Face Increasing Health Risks. Ambio 40:425-430.

Jacquet, J., J. J. Alava, P., Ganapathiraju, S., Henderson, D., Zeller. 2008. In hot soup: sharks captured in Ecuador’s waters. Environmental Sciences 5(4): 269-283.

Alava, J.J., Keller, J.M., Kucklick, J.R., Wyneken, J., Crowder, L., Scott, G.I. 2006. Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) egg yolk concentrations of persistent organic pollutants and lipid increase during the last stage of embryonic development. Science of the Total Environment 367:170–181.

Alava J.J., M.J. Barragan, C. Castro and R. Carvajal. 2005. A note on strandings and entanglements of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) in Ecuador. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 7(2):163–168.