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I am an ecologist specialising in animal movement and spatial ecology. I am primarily a movement ecologist with a very broad range of interests covering many areas of conservation and ecology and I have worked on a range of taxa including plants, fish, invertebrates, mammals and birds in many countries around the world.

I am currently quantitative ecologist at CSIRO Australia and a research associate with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.

LATEST RESEARCH

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A major challenge for long-distance migratory birds is that they often rely on multiple sites along their migration route. Migratory birds time their movements to synchronize with resource availability en-route and most importantly on their breeding site. The cues these long-distance migrants use to start migration, and how to adjust migration timing to match conditions in a distant breeding site, remain poorly understood, especially in passerine bird species.

Our aim was to study the relationship between spring migration timing and environmental factors at the African pre-departure sites and at a stopover site in four long distance migratory bird species. To this end, we first looked for changes in the arrival times of these species to an important stopover site in Israel between 2000 and 2021. Next, we tested if environmental conditions at the departure site in Africa, measured as Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI, a measure of greenness in the landscape), and local temperatures at the stopover site can explain variation in arrival timing. We also analysed changes in wing length as a proxy for migration distance, to identify potentially different populations within the individuals stopping in Israel or age-biased differences. We hypothesised that high EVI at the departure site and higher spring temperatures at the stopover site will facilitate earlier departure due to fast fuelling and flexibility to fine-tune migration speed as a response to conditions en route.

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Our team of elephant researchers have come together to produce a new paper on the spatial ecology of Asian elephants in Myanmar. 

Asian elephant numbers are declining across much of their range driven largely by serious threats from land use change resulting in habitat loss and fragmentation. Myanmar is undergoing major developments due to recent sociopolitical changes. To effectively manage and conserve the remaining populations of endangered elephants in the country, it is crucial to understand their ranging behavior.

In this paper we looked at the home range sizes of elephants across seasons and assessed which landscape characteristics affect home range sizes and movement behaviour. We found highly variable home range sizes from 792.0 km2 to184.2 km2. We found both the shape and spatial configuration of agriculture and natural vegetation patches within an individual elephant’s range play a significant role in determining the size of its range. We also found that elephants move more, and hence expend more energy, in ranges with higher percentages of agricultural area.