Danielle Thompson

Danielle Thompson


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    Personal profile


    I'm an ecologist and early-career researcher with a particular interest in seabirds and wildlife conservation. I'm currently at the University of Aberdeen to undertake my PhD investigating the drivers of individual foraging behaviour specialisation in Falkland Island shags (Leucocarbo atriceps albiventer).

    I have had a varied career so far, including coordinating services for the homeless, wildlife rehabilitation, coordinating citizen science,  and working on the world's first butterfly eradication. A defining role was working as the Ranger on Handa Island for two seasons, managing the remote island reserve and monitoring it’s internationally important seabird colonies, before working as a seabird ecologist at the science-policy interface.

    In my spare time I'm a keen photographer, knitter, and an active volunteer for a range of citizen science projects such as moth trapping, bird ringing, VSAS, and bird recording.

    Research Profile

    Drivers of individual foraging behaviour specialisation in Falkland Islands shags (Leucocarbo atriceps albiventer)

    Individual variation is key to our understanding of ecological and evolutionary processes, with important implications for species conservation. In particular, the relevance and extent of consistent behavioural differences (‘personality’), and the degree of plasticity or specialisation shown by individuals, has important consequences for a range of key traits including survival and reproductive success. These translate into population level impacts because they influence the susceptibility of individuals to anthropogenic threats.

    Using biologging techniques and diet analysis, this research will study the poorly known Falkland Islands shag (Leucocarbo atriceps albiventer) to investigate how intra-specific competition and environmental variation influence individual specialisation in foraging behaviours. As a widely distributed resident seabird, it offers a model system to not only follow individuals from colonies of varying size and with access to different oceanographic environments but to examine these contrasts year-round. Such characteristics make this species an excellent model to run a ‘natural experiment’ across gradients of competition (colony size) and environmental conditions (inshore and offshore colonies and seasonal variation in productivity and daylength) through which to examine drivers of individual variation in foraging/behavioural specialization.

    Additionally, Falkland Island shags forage exclusively in the near-shore marine environment, making them an ideal sentinel species to quantify key areas of importance in the region, for integration into current marine management efforts.

    This research is a collaboration between the University of Aberdeen and the South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute (SAERI).

    Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

    In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

    • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
    • SDG 15 - Life on Land

    Education/Academic qualification

    Biological Sciences, Masters Degree, MSc (Research) Biodiversity Management, University of Kent


    Award Date: 20 Jun 2018

    Biological Sciences, Bachelors Degree, BSc (Hons) Wildlife Conservation, University of Kent


    Award Date: 20 Jun 2012

    Area of Expertise

    • Biological Sciences
    • Marine Ornithology
    • Ecology
    • Zoology


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