I study human impacts on the oceans using long-term data on animal populations, technology-led approaches to study behaviour and powerful analytical techniques. The ultimate goal of my research is to guide conservation strategy and assist the development of ecosystem-based approaches to fisheries management.
Some questions that exemplify my research interests are:
1. What drives population change of marine vertebrates?
Breeding productivity, survival and dispersal are the key components that govern the rate at which animal populations change. But precisely how these demographic parameters are influenced by anthropogenic and environmental change is not always clear.
Key collaborators: Fitsum Abadi, Res Altwegg, Rob Crawford, Dimas Gianuca, Jessica Kemper, Katrin Ludynia, Azwianewi Makhado, Antje Steinfurth, William Sydeman, Les Underhill, Stephen Votier, Florian Weller.
Example Project — African penguin population dynamics on Robben Island — a long-term project monitoring the breeding success, survival and foraging behaviour of penguins in South Africa (see here for more information).
3. How to best account for the foraging needs of predators in fisheries management?
Example Project — Spatial protection for seabirds in South Africa — examining the efficacy of small-scale Marine Protected Areas that protect the prey stocks of preadatory seabirds (see here and here for more information).
4. How can uncertainty and precaution be incorporated into marine conservation?
5. How can emerging technologies help to quantify the impact of research activities on animals and engage people in conservation?
Many marine vertebrates are threatened with extinction. So, it is essential we minimise any negative effects associated with research. I am interested in methods that quantify or reduce the impact of monitoring on animals at individual and population levels and the use of the technology to engage people in conservation.
Example Project — Using digital cameras to discover what seabirds eat — developing new methods using photography to estimate the size, mass and species composition of tern diet (see here and here for more information).