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, Stuart Bearhop, 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).
2. What strategies will best achieve sustainable use of the oceans and allow recovery of marine vertebrates?
Key collaborators: Andy Brierley, Timothée Cook, Camille Le Guen, Jean-Paul Roux, Stephen Votier.
Example Project — Predicting the feeding areas of deep-diving predators.
3. How to best account for the foraging needs of predators in fisheries management?
Key collaborators: Andy Brierley, Rob Crawford, Astrid Jarre, Alistair McInnes, Lynne Shannon, William Sydeman, Carl van der Lingen, Lauren Waller, Henning Winker.
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?
Key collaborators: Nick Dulvy, Henning Winker, Nathan Pacoureau.
Example Project — Just Another Red List Assessment — using Bayesian State-space models to undertake robust IUCN Red List Assessment (see here, here and here for examples of how JARA has been used).
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.
Key collaborators: Peter Barham, Tilo Burghardt, Timothée Cook, Davide Gaglio.
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).