News

The latest news on my research projects:

Wednesday 17 January 2018 – New paper published:

Forage fish, like sardine and anchovy, are crucial to ocean food webs and are caught by some of the world’s largest fisheries. Understanding whether these fisheries affect predator populations by depleting their prey requires experimental fishing closures. However, these are extremely rare. Using an eight-year dataset, we measured breeding performance in endangered African penguins before and after, with and without fishing closures around four colonies. In a new paper published today in Proceedings of the Royal Society B we demonstrate how these fishing closures improved chick survival and body condition enough to increase the penguins’ expected population growth. This represents key evidence that marine protected areas can help conserve threatened marine predators by protecting their prey. The paper is the output from a long-running collaboration with numerous partners, notably the South African government Department of Environmental Affairs and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, BirdLife South Africa, the University of Cape Town, the University of Bristol, Nelson Mandela University, the University of Glasgow and the RSPB. Thanks to all the co-authors for all their hard work over the 8-year study.

Tuesday 17 October 2017 – Congratulations Dr Gaglio:

We have just had the news that the minor corrections on Davide Gaglio's PhD thesis have been accepted by the Exams Office at the University of Cape Town. So, it's official. Congrats Dr Gaglio! Davide's thesis focused on the ecology of greater crested terns in southern Africa. He used an array of techniques, including digital photography to study their diet, foraging ecology and behaviour. He has published 3 papers using the data he collected and has 4 more in review so keep an eye out for those coming soon! Davide is heading to Australia for the next step in his adventures. Safe travels and well done Davide!

Friday 13 October 2017 – New paper published:

Incidental bycatch in fisheries is considered one of the major threats to seabirds worldwide. However, there is a lot we don't know about how this threat manifests itself across the different geographic areas inhabited by the world's 18 penguin species. A new paper just accepted for publication in Endangered Species Research this week offers an up to date perspective and some advice and guidance for monitoring going forward. The paper is the output from a pair of workshops organised by the RSPB and others at the last two international penguin congresses. Thanks to Rory Crawford, Ursulla Ellenberg and the team of local co-ordinators (Christina Hagen, for southern Africa) for all their hard work to get this accepted and all the other co-authors for their input.

Tuesday 11 July 2017 – Reasons to celebrate in the Votier Lab:

Two great pieces of news in the Votier Lab here at the ESI today! First, congratulations to Steve Votier, who has very deservedly been promoted to Associate Professor! And congratulations to Dimas Gianuca who has just handed-in his PhD thesis! Dimas' PhD thesis is on the demography of northern and southern giant petrels on South Georgia. He is supervised by (now) Professor Steve Votier and Professor Stuart Townley here at Exeter and by Dr Richard Phillips at the British Antarctic Survey. Well done to both Steve and Dimas! Looking forward to celebrating when you get back from fieldwork (Steve) and sleeping off the last weeks of work (Dimas).

Thursday 29 June 2017 – New paper published:

Quantifying seabird-fisheries competition remains a challenge, but a new paper published in Fisheries Research this week offers some advice and guidance for best practises going forward. The paper is the output from a pair of workshops organised by the Farallon Institute (USA) and the Pew Charitable Trusts (USA). I gave one of the plenary presentations at the Cape Town workshop in October 2015 and am a co-author on the paper. Huge thanks to Bill Sydeman and Sarah Ann Thompson for their hard work and all the other co-authors for their input.

Monday 26 June 2017 –June on Robben Island:

I'm back from one month of fieldwork on Robben Island, keeping the long-term monitoring programme going. I was assisted in the field by three volunteers on our Earthwatch project, Lucy Sherley and Camille Le Guen, a PhD student from the University of St Andrews working on predator-prey dynamics in South Africa and South Georgia. We successfully monitored 111 penguin nests for breeding success and tracked the foraging trips of 28 penguins with GPS devices, depth recorders and accelerometers. These data will ultimately help our ongoing efforts, along with many partners in South Africa, to advise the South African government on Marine Spatial Planning and protected areas for seabirds in the Benguela Ecosystem. Thanks Nina, Amy, Carole, Camille and Lucy for an enjoyable trip!

You can find out more about this work here and more about our Earthwatch project here.