• KY16 8LB

    United Kingdom

Accepting Postgraduate Research Students

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Research overview

Risk balancing by marine predators

Animals that live under threat of predation have evolved behavioural strategies enabling them to perform essential tasks such as foraging whilst minimising risks.  This balancing of risk involves a range of behavioural adjustments in response to changes in prey availability and perceived threat levels.  I am interested in understanding the cognitive, behavioural, and energetic facets associated with risk balancing and decision making in foraging marine predators.

Use of dynamic habitats by marine predators

In marine systems, tidal and meteorological processes, together with geographical features such as narrow coastal channels effectively create habitats that are in constant flux due to water movements. My research looks to understand the unique challenges and opportunities this creates for marine predators using them.

Impacts of marine renewable energy technologies

Many countries have set ambitious targets for renewable energy, with energy from offshore sources anticipated to form an important part of this; this has led to the proposed installation of wind, wave, and tidal energy converters around the coast. However, these are potentially hazardous to marine mammals and understanding how they perceive and respond to renewable devices is critical to ensure that they can co-exist at the scales currently being envisaged for the industry. My research includes studies of the impacts of wind farm construction on harbour seals and behavioural responses of seals to tidal stream energy devices.

 

Research Group 

  • Philippa Wright, PhD student, University of St Andrews. "The role of habitat and prey quality in marine mammal decision making within a developing offshore wind landscape". Co-supervised with Sophie Smout (SMRU), and Katherine Whyte (BIOSS).
  • Emma Longden, Research Fellow. Marine mammal/tidal turbine interactions project.
  • Angela Amlin, PhD student, University of St Andrews. "Studying Seals with Static Sensors: using remote technologies to inform conservation management". Co-supervised with Luke Rendell (SMRU), and Denise Risch (SAMS).
  • Izzy Langley, PhD student, University of St Andrews. "Inter-specific Interactions: investigating the role of grey seals in the harbour seal decline". Co-supervised with Debbie Russell (SMRU), Paul Thompson (University of Aberdeen), and Andrew Brownlow (SAC).
  • Julia Sutherland, PhD student, University of St Andrews. "Killer Whale Predation of Seals in the Coastal Waters of Scotland: Investigating the Ecological Drivers and Consequences of an Apex Predator-Prey Interaction". Co-supervised with Saana Isojunno (SMRU), Peter Tyack (SMRU), Joe Onoufriou (Marine Scotland Science), and Karen Hall (NatureScot).
  • Gemma Veneruso, PhD student, Bangor University. "Investigating disturbance of small cetaceans from offshore anthropogenic developments". Co-supervised with Line Cordes and Lewis LeVay (University of Bangor).

Alumni

  • Katherine Whyte, PhD student, University of St Andrews. "Behavioural responses by seals to offshore energy activities". Co-supervised with Debbie Russell (SMRU), Len Thomas (CREEM), and Carol Sparling (SMRU Consulting). Current position: Statistician at BIOSS
  • Michael Oswald, Engineer, Equipment and sensor design for NERC Innovative Monitoring Techniques project. Current position: Lead Software Engineer at Marqeta, Inc
  • Laura Palmer, PGRA, Acoustic data analyst for marine mammal/tidal turbine interactions project. Current position: PhD student at University of Bristol.
  • Joe Onoufriou, PhD student, University of St Andrews. "Effects of tidal turbines on the movements of marine predators in tidally energetic areas". Co-supervised with Dave Thompson (SMRU), Liz Masden (UHI), Jared Wilson (Marine Scotland), and John Baxter (SNH). Current position: Senior Marine Mammal Scientist at Marine Scotland Science
  • Clair Evers, PGRA, Acoustic data analyst for marine mammal/tidal turbine interactions project. Current position: Marine Mammal Biologist at Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
  • Nienke Van Geel, PhD student, Scottish Association for Marine Science. "Predator movements in complex geography: Spatial distribution and temporal occurrence of low-density bottlenose dolphin communities off western Scotland". Co-supervised with Ben Wilson (SAMS). Current position: Research Fellow at SAMS.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

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