Natasha Gillies


D.Phil Student


I am a BBSRC-funded DPhil student working with OxNav under the supervision of Tim Guilford. My research primarily focuses on the breeding behaviour of pelagic seabirds. As long-lived, primarily monogamous animals, breeding success in many seabird species is dependent not just on the decisions of the individual but its partner also, and so cooperation during this time is an essential part of managing the costs associated with reproduction. However, this coordination must take place in an extreme and unpredictable environment which offers little opportunity for communication. Using the Manx shearwater, a medium-sized procellariform exhibiting long-term monogamy and extensive biparental care, as my primary study species, I aim to comprehensively examine the fundamental mechanisms of parental decision making in a seabird that represents an extreme both in life history and ecology.

Using a variety of precision biotelemetry devices, including GPS trackers, geolocators, and accelerometers, on shearwaters at island colonies around the UK, I aim to elucidate the at-sea behaviour of individuals and, in combination with traditional fieldwork techniques and observational analyses, relate this to the decisions made by parents during reproduction. I am additionally interested in the use and development of biologging technologies for remote behavioural collection, as well as the impacts of these devices on bird welfare.


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