I am a second year PhD student researching sexual segregation in Antarctic fur seals. My supervisory team includes Dr Iain Staniland and Dr Norman Ratcliffe from the British Antarctic Survey and Dr Stephen Votier from the University of Exeter.
The first aspect of my PhD involved analysing GPS tracking data from male and female Antarctic fur seal pups to determine how habitat use differs between the sexes. I next aim to analyse adult tracking data and stable isotopes in whiskers to understand how sexual segregation develops as Antarctic fur seals grow and age. Studying sexual segregation is important because males and females can have different foraging distributions, diving depths and diets. They can therefore have different requirements for survival and different impacts on the marine ecosystem, which may influence decisions to effectively manage habitats and conserve species.
I have enjoyed working in the field with South American sea lions and fur seals in the Falkland Islands. In 2017 I assisted Dr Alastair Baylis deploy tracking devices on adult female South American sea lions. I returned to the Falklands in July-August 2018 to deploy tracking devices on South American fur seals pups to gain valuable insights into their dispersal after weaning. This is an exciting and on-going project, which is supported by a National Geographic Early Career Grant, The South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute (SAERI) and the Seal Conservation Society.
For my Bachelor’s degree, I studied Marine Vertebrate Zoology at Bangor University and Oregon State University. I also interned with the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Anchorage, Alaska, where I assisted with the sea otter health-monitoring programme. I then completed my Master’s degree in Marine Environmental Management at the University of York. For my MSc dissertation I researched the expansion of a grey seal colony in Lincolnshire. I also completed a summer placement with Dr Sue Wilson from the Seal Conservation Society in Northern Ireland, where I studied the behaviour of harbour seal mother-pup pairs.
I hope to continue studying seals in my future career and I look forward to meeting people with similar research interests – my twitter name is @kayleigh_seals.
Wilson, S.C., and Jones, K.A., 2018. Behaviour of harbour seal (Phoca vitulina vitulina) mother-pup pairs in Irish Sea intertidal habitats. Biology and Environment: Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 2018. DOI: 10.3318/BIOE.2018.02