Currently undertaking a PhD (2017-2021) using population genetics and stable isotopes to understand pre-whaling ecology, connectivity and diversity of baleen whale populations in the South Atlantic. Based at the University of Cambridge Archaeology Department and British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge – in collaboration with the Natural History Museum, London.
PhD research background
For centuries, whales have been commercially exploited for their blubber, vast amounts of oil, food and numerous other provisions. During the 20th Century, humans invented the exploding harpoon which meant all whale species could now be targeted. This innovation alongside the invention of factory ships meant we could target and harvest whales across the globe at an enormous and unsustainable rate. By 1986 over 2 million whales were killed in the Southern Hemisphere alone and many populations declined by up to 90%. The SouthWest Atlantic was the epicentre of 20th Century whaling, with 8.6% of all Southern Hemisphere catches made within a day’s sailing of one sub-Antarctic island.
Understanding the impacts of 20th Century whaling on population structure and diversity is vital to provide accurate baselines for current conservation measures.
My research focuses on using population genetics and stable isotopes to understand pre-whaling ecology, connectivity and diversity of baleen whale populations in the South Atlantic.
Using comparative analyses with phylogenetic techniques to gain a deeper understanding of broad-scale patterns in ecological systems using the COMPADRE and COMADRE demographic databases, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter Cornwall Campus – with Professor Dave Hodgson
Computing development officer, website development and ‘compadrino’ of the COMPADRE and COMADRE demographic databases with Professor Dave Hodgson, University of Exeter – in collaboration with Dr Rob Salguero-Gomez, University of Oxford and Dr Owen Jones, University of Southern Denmark
Determining the response of Harbour porpoise to a novel bycatch mitigation mechanism using passive acoustic monitoring, MSc project with Dr Matthew Witt at the University of Exeter – in collaboration with Nick Tregenza at Chelonia LTD, Cornwall
Research assistant at Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust (WWCT) – understanding the welfare implications of visitor feeding experiences on captive zoo animals at Newquay Zoo, Cornwall – in collaboration with Dr Kathy Baker at WWCT
MSc with Distinction – Conservation & Biodiversity, University of Exeter
BSc with Class 1 Honours – Zoology with Employment Experience, University of Sheffield
PhD Project Supervisory Panel and Research Interests:
Dr Jennifer Jackson, British Antarctic Survey: population dynamic modelling to understand the population history of exploited whales
Dr Tamsin O’Connell, University of Cambridge Archaeology Department: using biochemistry techniques including isotopic analysis to explore signals of diet and climate in human and animal tissues
Professor Ian Barnes, Natural History Museum: using modern and ancient DNA, together with protein and isotope data, to understand how organisms adapt and react to changes in their environment
Dr Will Goodall Copestake, British Antarctic Survey: the application of molecular genetic methods to investigate marine biodiversity in order to generate data of value for environmental conservation efforts
Dr Gabriele Stowasser, British Antarctic Survey: using biochemical methods such as stable isotope and fatty acid analysis to study marine food webs, their functioning and connectivity
Dr Phil Trathan, British Antarctic Survey: senior principal research in biology, ecology and management of marine ecosystems in the Antarctic
Hosken, D. J., Buss, D. L. & Hodgson, D. J. Beware the F test (or, how to compare variances). Anim. Behav. 136, 119–126 (2018/2)