The research focuses on predator foraging theory and predator response to spatial heterogeneity, environmental changes and habitat loss, providing insights on the possible future scenarios that are likely to occur when large arrays of tidal devices are deployed.
The work involves both the collection of behavioural data and the development of a modelling tool that simulates predator and prey behaviour, using statistical parameters extracted from devices such as TDR, GPS, multi-beam and multi-frequency instruments. The research is funded by NERC and is undertaken in collaboration with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and Marine Scotland Science.
Location of Research
Observe and define the different foraging strategies of diving seabirds, how, where and when they move, the physiological costs of the movements and how these are related to environmental variability and disturbances caused by human activities. In particular it aims to quantify and parameterise modes of movements using data storage tags such as GPS, TDR and accelerometers, understand motivations of movements and how different observed patterns may depend upon the distribution of resources.
After developing a generic model on foraging movements of diving predators, field studies for movement data on foraging seabirds has been collected. The sample species, common guillemot (Uria alga) and razorbills (Alca torda), known for having contrasting foraging behaviours, were tracked using combinations of GPS, TDR and accelerometers. A method for the analysis of this type of movement data, classifying behaviours, understanding motivations of movements and highlighting differences and similarities across the two species was then developed. During the project a particular focus was given to the underwater movements and behaviours in order to highlight what is still unknown and unobservable about these species because it happens underwater.
The FORSITE project completed in 2017.