Despite being some of the most ancient, extant vertebrate species on the planet, sharks face unprecedented threats from fishing and climate change. Moreover, large, mobile marine species such as sharks and rays play a key role in the health of coral reef ecosystems. It is important to understand how sharks connect isolated reefs through movement, where and when different species are resident and how movement strategies can impact their vulnerability to illegal fishing activity within the Marine Protected Area (MPA).
Another component of my research in BIOT focusses on improving our understanding of biotic and abiotic drivers of movement patterns and aggregation behavior in both space and time. Individual sharks have been shown to form social bonds and so measuring how social behavior might structure populations is crucial for the future management of sharks both inside and outside MPAs.
The combined use of network analyses with acoustic tracking data helps to reveal some of these important patterns of space use, in addition to helping define key areas in BIOT where our enforcement efforts should be directed.
Understanding the ecology and movement of sharks in a human-impacted world is therefore both urgent and essential for their long-term persistence.
Sentinel Species ResearchThe Ecology and Ecosystem Roles of Reef Sharks in the BIOT MPA
Sentinel Species ResearchThe Importance of BIOT for Pelagic Predators in the Indian Ocean
I am highly interested in developing new network methodologies such as multilayer spatial networks for animal movement analyses and social network inference methods using machine learning techniques. Other key research interests include the growing use of artificial intelligence in ecology and conservation, animal personalities and how we can apply theory from other disciplines such as economics, mathematics or physics to better understand the ecology and decision making of wild animals.
Moreover, I am the Red List Coordinator for the IUCN Anguillid Eel Specialist Group. I am involved in the assessments of all species of freshwater eel whom have a fascinating ecology and substantial threats in their own right.