Acoustic Tracking of Ocean Wanderers: Revealing Behavioural Context on the Wing

Lead Research Organisation: King's College London
Department Name: Geography

Abstract

Over recent decades, the status of the world's seabirds has deteriorated, with several species heading towards extinction. Seabirds often forage near fishing vessels resulting in huge numbers of seabirds being killed accidentally in longline and trawl fisheries every year. Determining whether individuals forage in groups, the species composition of these groups, and the occurrence of fishing vessel interactions (for example, where they occur and how many species are involved) would provide invaluable information regarding the nature of seabird foraging behaviour, especially of vulnerable species and those threatened with extinction.
This research project proposes to combine miniature audio recording devices with low-cost GPS loggers to record and assess the behaviour and context of seabirds foraging at sea. Such recordings should reveal whether these individuals are foraging in groups (by the distribution of calls in the recordings), whether they forage with other species (by identifying species in recordings) and potentially whether they come in to contact with fishing vessels during foraging.
By understanding intra and inter-species social interactions during foraging at sea and mapping the overlap between seabirds and fisheries, this study aims to identify mitigating measures and conservation efforts to protect seabird life where and when they are most needed.

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
NE/S007229/1 30/09/2019 29/09/2027
1912163 Studentship NE/S007229/1 30/09/2017 22/04/2023 Aline Da Silva Cerqueira
NE/W503137/1 03/03/2021 30/03/2022
1912163 Studentship NE/W503137/1 30/09/2017 22/04/2023 Aline Da Silva Cerqueira
 
Description DEFRA intern with the Systems Research Programme, wrote an Evidence Statement on UK Marine Protected Areas.
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Contribution to a national consultation/review
 
Description Bird Island Albatrosses. 
Organisation British Antarctic Survey
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution My research team has contributed to this collaboration with the method design and equipment used to collect data during the field work. We have also analysed the obtained datasets and produced the results that will be soon published in a peer reviewed journal.
Collaborator Contribution Our research partner, Dr Richard Phillips from BAS, has led and employed our method during the field work and collected data from two species of albatrosses in Bird Island, Antarctica. He is also an essential contributor and co-author in our peer reviewed publication that is currently being finalised.
Impact Field data collection and a peer reviewed publication (in preparation).
Start Year 2014
 
Description Grassholm Island Gannets. 
Organisation University of Exeter
Department Biosciences
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution My research team has contributed to this collaboration with the method design and equipment used to collect data during the field work. We are currently analysing these new datasets with plans to develop a machine learning methodology and a citizen science project that will speedup data processing and analysis, as well as generate results to test our hypotheses. We estimate that at least two new publications will result from this collaboration in partnership with Dr Stephen Votier and his team.
Collaborator Contribution Dr Stephen Votier and his team have been essential in the collection of new datasets from northern gannets from Grassholm Island, in Wales. They have enabled the access to one of the largest gannets colonies in the UK and helped in the field work. Dr Votier is also collaborating by sharing data that he has been collecting from the same colony over the past 13 years. These data are vital to the present study and together with the recently collected acoustic and GPS data, will form the basis of important publications.
Impact Data collection, access to extensive datasets and future publications.
Start Year 2019
 
Description School Science Week 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact KS1 and KS2 students were organised in several groups throughout the week to visit their local beach and estuary to explore different ecosystems and habitats and find out about their creatures. Students were able to engage in practical activities such as simplified intertidal surveys, species identification and quantification. When back at school, I then talked to them about their findings and assessed their impressions about their experiences. I also talked to students about my current research using speakers and video to demonstrate the concept of acoustic tracking. Teachers reported an increase in interest about the environmental topics covered during the following weeks and expressed their interest repeating the activities in the future.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Soapbox Science Brighton Talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I was one of the 12 women in STEM talking about their researches at the Soapbox Science 2019 Brighton. This event was part of the renowned Brighton Fringe Festival 2019 and attracted the attention of a very diverse public strolling along the seafront on that day. My talk was engaging and I was asked many questions throughout my presentation. It was a great opportunity for me to highlight the importance of an innovative research method for seabird conservation as well as to publicise my work alongside other female scientists.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://soapboxscience.org/soapbox-science-2019-brighton/
 
Description Soapbox Science London Talk at the The WISE Festival - Celebrating the International Day of Women and Girls in Science 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact TBC
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.bl.uk/events/the-wise-festival-daytime-events