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Autonomous Monitoring of Vulnerable Habitats
Autonomous Monitoring of Vulnerable Habitats

Automatic monitoring of the effects of changing environmental conditions on the ecology and behaviour of the Manx Shearwater.

The behaviour and population ecology of seabirds is an important indicator of the wide scale effects of changing climatic conditions. Changes in oceanic resources and ecosystem health have unforeseen effects on the behaviour and ecology of such animals. Procellariiformes (Albatrosses, Petrels, Prions and Shearwaters) in particular, with their ocean wandering lifestyles, are global integrators of marine resources and alterations in their migratory patterns and foraging behaviour may be indicative of critical changes in ocean health.

Despite their pivotal position in the future of our understanding of global ecology, their elusive lifestyles have made these animals notoriously hard to study. By combining advanced wireless sensor networks with state of the art GPS tracking research at Oxford University we will create a platform for automatically monitoring the birds’ feeding and foraging behaviour. We aim to determine exactly how variables such as the state of the chick and each parent, activity at the colony, temperature and humidity, interact to influence a bird’s decisions about when next to return to feed its chick, and about its detailed foraging decisions at sea.


In collaboration with the Countryside Commission for Wales (CCW) and the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales.