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Sophie Bennett

I am interested in population dynamics, migration and the ability of species to adapt to anthropogenic threats such as climate change. Seabirds offer a great opportunity to study these areas as their long lifespan, faithfulness to their breeding site and highly colonial nature are ideal for quantifying longitudinal effects on a large number of individuals and populations. 

Through my PhD, I will be using information collected on the population of common guillemots breeding on the Isle of May, for which we have over 40 years of breeding data as well as 10 years of movement data. I will assess how key drivers of population dynamics, including productivity and survival, are driven by individual and population-level behavioural responses. To investigate this I will test how breeding territory quality is affected by changes in population density and population trend as well as how attendance of sites in the non-breeding period impacts on productivity and in turn how this is affected by anthropogenic factors.

In addition to this historic data I will also collect new information during my project through the use of time-lapse cameras, geolocator tags and direct breeding observations. Through this research we will expand our understanding of the ability of guillemots and that of other marine species to adapt to current and future conditions in its environment.

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