University of Birmingham United Kingdom
I am an Ecologist, having undertaken degrees in Ecology and Applied Ecology and Conservation, and my main interests lie within avian ecology, behaviour and conservation. I have previously worked in conservation for over five years on endangered bird species in Mauritius and New Zealand. During this time I developed a love for seabirds and happily secured a PhD focusing on a large colony of sooty terns on Ascension Island in the South Atlantic.
Ascension Island is a remote British Oversees territory located around 1,600km from mainland Africa, and is one of the most important seabird breeding stations in the world. My study species, the sooty tern (Onychoprion fuscatus), is a pelagic seabird that breeds in large colonies, with Ascension Island being host to upwards of 400,000 birds who visit the island to breed.
My primary research interests are centred on understanding group social structure and its importance at the individual and population level. We know relatively little about how seabird colonies function in terms of their social dynamics and until recently our understanding of group structure has been considered at the population or individual scale. I am also interested in the genetic aspects of the colony, and having developed microsatellite markers I am investigating population structure and relatedness of individuals breeding at various spatial scales. I hope that my work can contribute to the understanding and management of this species, which has seen dramatic population declines of over 80% in the last 50 years.