Michael Williamson Bsc.


My PhD research aims to integrate acoustic telemetry data from reef sharks and satellite remote sensing to consider the environmental drivers of shark movement.

Coral reef systems provide valuable habitats for shark and ray species but are facing unprecedented man-made pressures. These important marine predators play a vital role in the functioning of coral reef ecosystems and so a better understanding of habitat use, and how this alters with changing environmental conditions, is important for the conservation of both shark species and reefs themselves.

Plotting networks of animal movements is an innovative tool that is revealing important insights into ecological connectivity and wildlife behaviour. Because climate change is predicted to cause increased fluctuations in environmental conditions, by integrating environmental data into movement analysis techniques, and investigating how environmental factors can influence the movement dynamics and spatial networks of species, is important for future shark conservation and management.

Powerful, remotely-sensed satellite data are increasingly available to researchers. However so far, very little of this valuable data has been integrated with environmental data into wildlife movement analysis. I am also investigating new methods for monitoring coral reef health to provide insights into how animal movement and social patterns are influenced by environmental change (for example, the El Niño–Southern Oscillation event during 2015-2016). These valuable data can help policy makers with their management decisions for the conservation of BIOT’s highly mobile marine animals.

New technologies like satellite remote sensing are greatly improving our understanding of marine animals movement around their habitats, and help in conservation effort to protect them.

Michael Williamson


2017 Present
NERC Ph.D. Candidate – King’s College London/Institute of Zoology
2016 2017
Freelance Field Technician – St Andrews University/World Conservation Society
2010 2016
Research Officer – Cetacean Ecology and Acoustics Laboratory – University of Queensland
2007 2008
MSc. Wild Animal Biology – Institute of Zoology/Royal Veterinary College
2003 2006
BSc. Zoology – University of Newcastle Upon Tyne

My Project

  • Sentinel Species Research
    The Ecology and Ecosystem Roles of Reef Sharks in the BIOT MPA

Other interests

I am interested in the effect research techniques, such as tagging and capture, have on the behaviour of marine fauna. It’s possible that research methods may affect an animal’s behaviour, which can in turn influence the results of the research. Understanding these changes and taking them into account is important when using these techniques before making any conclusions from the results of the data.

I am also interested in the use of tagging technologies on cetaceans, particularly in the areas of behavioural response and foraging ecology.

My Publications