My research focuses on spatial ecology, on topics dealing with behavioural ecology, life-history and population dynamics. I mostly work on colonial seabirds, addressing a range of questions from understanding the drivers of migration and the consequences of migratory strategies on individual fitness and population dynamics, to investigating foraging niche differentiation in sympatric species, or the mechanisms of carry-over effects in migratory species. To address these questions I use a combination of bird-borne tracking loggers, video cameras, field experiments and the use of machine-learning techniques to analyse large individual datasets to identify behavioural patterns in these datasets (ethoinformatics). I am currently leading projects on seabirds breeding in the North Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans.
The findings of my research also have conservation implications, and I collaborate with other researchers and NGOs to help inform conservation decisions, such as the design of Marine Protected Areas.
Atlantic puffins’ movement ecology
I have been studying puffins since I started my DPhil. My main study site is Skomer Island in Wales. Since 2011 I have been leading a long-term study into their migration movements, using miniature tracking devices (geolocators) to follow their movements and behaviour during the non-breeding season, in order to understand the drivers of their migratory patterns. Additionally, I am leading another project investigating the foraging ecology of puffins across the eastern North Atlantic (Wales, Norway, and Iceland), with the aim to understand the drivers of dramatic population declines in the northern part of their range.
Collaborators: Dr Erpur Hansen (South Iceland Nature Research Centre), Dr Tycho Anker-Nilssen (Norwegian Institute for Nature Research ), Dr Gemma Clucas (New Hampshire University).
Foraging ecology of sympatric species
I study the foraging ecology of white-tailed and red-tailed tropicbirds on Aldabra Atoll (outer Seychelles), one of the few places where the two species coexist. This project aims to fill a gap in the currently poor knowledge of the species’ ecology, including their at-sea distributions during and after breeding, and to identify why red-tailed tropicbirds are declining on Aldabra, by studying potential effects of intra-specific competition and predation.
I am now expanding the project to Aride in the inner Seychelles to compare foraging ecology between populations, and to also investigating their non-breeding movements and annual routines.
Collaborators: Seychelles Islands Foundation (esp. Dr Nancy Bunbury), Island Conservation Society, University of Seychelles (Dr Gerard Rocamora)
Homing navigation in nocturnal seabirds
This project aims to understand how nocturnal seabirds navigate back to their nest from their foraging trips during the breeding season, and which cues they rely on. I combine high resolution tracking with GPS and accelerometry loggers with experiments to displace the birds or alter their ability to rely on particular sensory cues. To compare the use of navigation cues between different habitats, I conduct this research on Manx shearwaters breeding on barren islands in Wales and streaked shearwaters breeding in dense jungle-like forests in Japan.
Collaborators: Dr Akiko Shoji (Hokkaido University), Dr Ken Yoda (Nagoya University)