April 9, 2024

Tom Gale

Tom Gale

PhD title: Drivers and demographic consequences of seabird foraging strategies in a changing environment

Location: UKCEH Edinburgh and Bangor University

Email: tmg23bbb@bangor.ac.uk

My PhD will investigate the drivers of foraging behaviour in European Shags. To do this, I will first be analysing bio-logging data collected as part of the Isle of May Long Term Study (IMLOTS), which aims to monitor populations of seabirds breeding at the Isle of May and understand how they are affected by environmental change. This dataset spans over 30 years and, importantly, will allow me to understand how changes in foraging behaviour link to changes in Shag demographic rates. I also intend to complete fieldwork fitting GPS devices and time depth recorders (TDR) to Shags in Shetland to study their foraging behaviour in tidal stream environments and how this may be affected by the existing tidal energy site here. Seabirds are important indicators of marine ecosystem health, so understanding factors which may be driving population declines is essential.

Previously, I completed an MSc by Research at the University of York studying the migration stopover behaviour of Common Snipe in North Ronaldsay, Orkney. This project involved analysing migrant bird census data collected by North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory (NRBO) to understand how the number of Snipe using the island as a stopover site depends on the weather and time of year. This project also involved fieldwork where I fitted Snipe with radio tags during their autumn migration in North Ronaldsay to investigate their stopover durations and fine scale habitat use on the island. Following completion of this project, I spent a season working at NRBO as Assistant Warden where my duties involved monitoring migrating birds, as well as the island’s breeding seabirds and waders.