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Personal profile

Key Research Interests and Expertise

My research interests lie primarily with the ecology and conservation of migratory birds. I am particularly interested in understanding the impacts of environmental change (anthropogenic and climatic) on seabirds, by studying movement ecology through the use of remote-tracking technology. Previous research has focused on the movement ecology of the Philippine slow loris through a fragmented landscape using radio telemetry, and the combination of meta-barcoding and tracking to investigate spatial use and foraging ecology of the Madeiran storm petrel, and European nightjar.

Current Research

My PhD will focus on the factors influencing individual variation in ocean movement patterns of Round Island petrels. These petrels breed at a single colony (Round Island), 23 km off Mauritius, and have been the subject of a study by the Zoological Society of London since 2009. These studies have shown that Round Island petrels are actually a hybrid complex of at least three species of Pterodroma petrel, consisting of one species from the Atlantic (Pterodroma arminjoniana) and at least two from the Pacific (P. heraldica and P. neglecta). This means the petrel population consists of individuals with a range of genetic and therefore geographic origins, making this a unique and interesting model system.

Over 500 individual Round Island petrels have been equipped with geolocators, and my project will use these data to explore the factors influencing the extraordinary levels of individual variation in ocean movement patterns, and the ecological impacts of environmental change. This spatial data will be related to individual genotype (to describe its origin) to investigate how this might affect distribution patterns and population growth. With human activities transforming the marine environment through pathways including fishing, pollution, and climate change, understanding the implications of environmental change on individual fitness is incredibly important, which in turn will have consequences at both the individual and population level.

My PhD is based at the University of East Anglia, and is conducted in collaboration with the Institute of Zoology (IoZ) and British Antarctic Survey (BAS). My PhD is the first to be funded by the BOU’s John and Pat Warham Studentship Fund.

Biography

In 2016, I graduated from Cardiff University with a BSc (Hons) in Zoology, where I developed a keen interest in ornithology and spatial ecology. As part of my degree, I spent 12 months in the Bornean rainforest conducting my own year-long research project on the home range and behaviour of the Philippine slow loris. This involved nocturnal fieldwork using radio telemetry to track tagged individuals. I was also able to assist on multiple other projects becoming experienced with remote-tracking technology on a wide range of species.

Since graduating, I have worked on multiple research projects, including work for the BTO, RSPB, and Cardiff, and Coimbra University. These projects have involved metabarcoding to investigate the diet of the European nightjar, European storm petrel, Pied flycatcher, and Madeiran storm petrel. I gained these molecular skills through my undergraduate dissertation on the diet of Welsh woodland birds.

Prior to starting my PhD, I spent the summer of 2018 as a voluntary assistant warden at Skokholm Island Bird Observatory. I am also a ‘C’ permit bird ringer, and have assisted numerous long-term ringing projects, such as the Storm Petrels in Portugal Project, for which I have helped run for the past three years.

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 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water

Education/Academic qualification

Bachelor of Science, Cardiff University

24 Sep 201210 Jun 2016

Award Date: 9 Nov 2016

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