Holly Stokes MSc.

Swansea University


My PhD research will focus on the nesting ecology of sea turtles (green and hawksbill) in the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) and will investigate the importance of BIOT for immature foraging turtles.

Estimating the total number of individuals of a population, along with breeding success, is vital to understanding the ecosystem role of species and their population dynamics. However, population assessments are difficult to obtain for sea turtles due to the nature of their breeding. Sea turtles do not breed annually, are capital breeders and often emerge on remote beaches to breed.

This project follows on from the existing research programme to investigate the ecology of sea turtles nesting across five atolls in BIOT. The aim is to determine the success of sea turtle nesting and hatchling emergence and investigate how variations in beach zone, seasonality, beach vegetation, and temperature influence their success. I will also explore how sites may change under future climate scenarios and how this may influence population dynamics.

New methodologies and technologies will help to facilitate this research. Remote cameras will be used to update estimates of nesting populations of sea turtles, and drone footage will be used in combination with animal-borne biologging tags to assess patterns of abundance in juvenile sea turtles in BIOT.

The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever

Jacques Costeau


2020 Present
PhD candidate, Swansea University
2019 2020
Assistant Marine Environmental Assessment Officer, Natural Resources Wales
2019 2019
Seagrass Technician, Swansea University
2018 2019
Research Assistant, Swansea University
2018 2018
Volunteer Coordinator, Atoll Volunteers, Maldives
2016 2017
MSc Environmental Biology: Conservation and Resource Management, Swansea University
2012 2015
BSc (Hons) Marine Biology, Swansea University

My Project

  • Sentinel Species Research
    The Ecology of Sea Turtles in the British Indian Ocean Territory

Other interests

As part of my MSc, I researched the diet of green turtles in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO), and I am interested in the spatiotemporal variation in green turtle diet. Additionally, I am interested in seagrass ecology and the role that green turtles play in structuring seagrass ecosystems.

My Publications