[MARMAM] PhD opportunity, Quantitative movement analysis

Alastair Baylis al_baylis at yahoo.com.au
Mon Aug 12 20:23:28 PDT 2013

To apply for this exceptional PhD please visit: http://cie-deakin.com/2013/07/19/phd-position-quantitative-movement-analysis-tracking-sea-turtles-seals-and-marine-birds-in-the-global-ocean/

For further details please
contact: g.hays at deakin.edu.au 

Quantitative movement analysis: tracking sea turtles,
seals and marine birds in the global ocean
Professor Graeme Hays, Dr Daniel Ierodiaconou, Dr
Rebecca Lester, Dr John Arnould and Professor Gerry Quinn
School of Life and Environmental Sciences
Deakin University (Warrnambool)
The last decade has seen the
development of reliable satellite tracking equipment that has allowed routine
long-term (months to years) tracking of a range of marine vertebrates including
turtles, seals and sea birds. This project will focus on examining a number of
cutting-edge questions related to patterns of movement and habitat use
including both “blue skies” questions on animal orientation as well as more
applied questions on marine conservation planning. 
This studentship will suit
candidates with interests in quantitative ecology, statistics and ecological or
mathematical modelling or computer science, given its focus on quantitative
movement analysis, GIS data analysis and data mining techniques. It may also
suit students with interests in marine vertebrate ecology, as it will involve
some targeted deployment of tracking equipment onto marine vertebrates at sites
around the world. 
Some of the contemporary
questions that will be addressed include: 
Orientation of sea turtles
travelling across the open ocean: Using
data-sets emerging from long-term tracking of adult loggerhead turtles
travelling across the Mediterranean from their breeding grounds in Greece,
green turtles travelling across the Indian Ocean from their breeding grounds on
the Chagos Archipelago as well as juvenile loggerhead turtles moving in the
South Pacific, the student will examine whether turtles show directed swimming
to take account of current advection that may lead them off-route and how they
approach and locate isolated targets such as small islands. In this way the
extent and resolution of the geospatial map that turtles use will be assessed
in relation to laboratory experiments that have shown the potential for turtles
to use geomagnetic maps in long-distance movements. 
Habitat use by both breeding
and foraging turtles: Using tracking
data from around the world (including the Indian Ocean, Pacific and Atlantic)
across a range of sea turtle species the student will use high-resolution
Fastloc-GPS tracking to assess the habitat use by sea turtles in both their
breeding and foraging locations. The extent of space use will be compared to
habitat quality and diet, including comparison between species and populations
in different parts of their range. This work will involve GIS analysis of space
use and be used to develop informed conservation strategies in terms of
protected area designation. 
Drift scenarios for
juveniles: The student will use
oceanographic techniques including Lagrangian drift trajectories and ocean
particle tracking models to consider the drift scenarios for hatchling sea
turtles. This work will be embedded within questions regarding the ontogeny of
migration in sea turtles
(e.g. do adults travel to those sites they experienced as drifting
hatchlings?), implications of climate change in terms of drift scenarios and
consideration of the global distribution of sea turtles in terms of the
proximity of beaches to suitable current regimes.  
Meta-analysis of movement
patterns across diverse species: The
advent of comparable (Argos and Fastloc-GPS) tracking data for a range of
marine vertebrates (turtles, seals, birds) allows the patterns of movement
across taxa to be considered such as migration distances, course directness and
migration periodicity. The student will compare and contrast the movement
patterns across a range of contrasting marine vertebrates. 
For further details please
contact: g.hays at deakin.edu.au 
See: http://scholar.google.co.uk/citations?user=7rc3SmAAAAAJ&hl=en&oi=ao
Further reading on our recent
work in this area: 

Fossette S, Putman NF, Lohmann
KJ , Marsh R, Hays GC (2012). A biologist’s guide to assessing ocean currents:
a review. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 457, 285-301. doi:
Hays GC, Fossette S, Katselidis
KA, Schofield G, Gravenor MB (2010). Breeding periodicity for male sea turtles,
operational sex ratios, and implications in the face of climate change. Conservation
Biology 24, 1636–1643. doi: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2010.01531.x 
Hays GC, Fossette S, Katselidis
KA, Mariani P, Schofield G (2010). Ontogenetic development of migration:
Lagrangian drift trajectories suggest a new paradigm for sea turtles. Journal
of Royal Society Interface 7, 1319-1327. doi:10.1098/rsif.2010.0009. 
Hays GC, Scott R (2013). Global
patterns for upper ceilings on migration distance in sea turtles and
comparisons with fish, birds and mammals. Functional Ecology 27,
748–756. doi: 10.1111/1365-2435.12073 
Lohmann KJ, Luschi P, Hays GC
(2008). Goal navigation and island-finding in sea turtles. Journal of
Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 356,
Schofield G, Scott R, Dimadi A,
Fossette S, Katselidis KA, Koutsoubas D, Lilley MKS, Pantis JD, 
Karagouni AD, Hays GC (2013).
Evidence-based marine protected area planning for a highly mobile endangered
marine vertebrate. Biological Conservation 161, 101–109.
Schofield G, Dimadi A, Fossette
S, Katselidis KA, Koutsoubas D, Lilley MKS, Luckman A, Pantis JD, Karagouni AD,
Hays GC (2013). The importance of sample size: tracking large numbers of
individuals to infer population level dispersal and core areas for protection. Diversity
and Distributions. doi: 10.1111/ddi.12077 
Scott R, Marsh R, Hays GC
(2012). Life in the really slow lane: loggerhead sea turtles mature late
relative to other reptiles. Functional Ecology, 26, 227-235. doi:

R, Marsh R, Hays GC (2012). A little movement orientated to the geomagnetic
field makes a big difference in strong flows. Marine Biology, 159,
481-488.doi 10.1007/s00227-011-1825-1
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