Current projects

Identification of key marine megafauna areas in the Falkland Islands


This project  aimed at collating all tracking and sighting data on seabirds and pinnipeds within the Falkland Islands' waters. An analytical framework was produced as a methodology to produce a protocol, for integration of tracking and sighting data in the spatial analyses, that is repeatable and easily explained to stakeholders and decision makers. The results provide GIS layers that show the distribution, for each species and for megafauna in general and feed in marine spatial planning (part of MSP project), as well as further work on risk assessments etc.


Collaborators: Maria DiasBen Lascelles, John Croxall (BirdLife International), and many researchers who provided their data for the study

Funding: Darwin Plus grant

Predicting suitable areas for recovering baleen whales in the Falkland Islands


We recently completed and published a study using local ecological knowledge to investigate the recovery  of the Falklands' baleen whales to fill the lack of historic scientific data. We are now working on a follow up study to determine whether LEK data can be used for predictive modeling of whale distribution around the Falkland Islands using Maxent.


Collaborator: Veronica Frans

Funding: Falklands' Environmental Studies Budget grant

Spatially-explicit Bayesian networks to map cumulative impacts of coastal development on marine habitats 


Coastal development not only affects the land part of the coastal zone but also direct and create a wide range of activities and pollution in the marine environment. Using Bayesian networks in a GIS framework, we spatially model the impacts that coastal development could have on 3 case studies in the Great Barrier Reef: seagrass, dugongs and grazer reef fish, based on expert elicitation, to inform coastal planning.


Collaborators: Owen Woodberry (Bayesian Intelligence), Bob Pressey (ARC Center for Coral Reef Studies), Ann Nicholson (Monash University), and a number of case study experts.

Funding: National Environmental Research Program (Australia)

Spatial scenarios for conservation planning in the Great Barrier Reef coastal zone


Planning requires an understanding of future changes; however, predicting changes dependent on highly volatile socio-economic factors is not reliable. There, we applied a scenario planning approach to understanding the range of possible future coastal development along the Great Barrier Reef. These scenarios can feed in a range of management tools, such as stakeholder engagement, coordination of planning all along the GBR, localised priority areas for protection, etc. Land use change models were produced for the entire coast, along with models of their consequences for the marine environment (eg shipping, run-off etc).


Collaborators:  Bob Pressey (ARC Center for Coral Reef Studies), Hugh Yorkston (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority), Allan Dale (James Cook University), Jon Brodie (TropWater)

Research and GIS Assistants: Mirjam Maughan, Ben Reid

Funding: National Environmental Research Program (Australia)

Modeling suitable breeding sites for the recolonising New Zealand sea lions on the mainland


This project is a follow up from Veronica's MSc thesis. Following a paper presenting a new framework to model species with multiple behavioural states over time, we are now working on a paper that will present the results of the identification of suitable sites for breeding colonies throughout New Zealand coasts. This will provide the Department of Conservation and local councils with recommendations for planning, as well as linking land and sea habitat needs.


Collaborators: Veronica Frans (MSc 2016), Jan Engler, Hendrik Edelhoff

Funding: University of Otago School of Surveying research grant

New Zealand fur seals in Northland: The last frontier of their recovery


New Zealand fur seals have re-established breeding colonies along most of New Zealand mainland coasts in the last 2 decades following their extirpation in the 19th century. The last area where they have only started coming back is Northland. There has not been any study on the extent where they now occur and whether there are breeding colonies yet. We will be using local ecological knowledge and existing sightings to gain a on this species in Northland to provide understanding of potential benefits and issues their presence may bring for the region.


Collaborators: Laureline Meynier (Massey University) and Beau Masters (BSc student)

Funding: Department of Conservation summer scholarship

Past projects

See Publications page for all papers and reports from previous research projects