Movement ecology and conservation of marine predators

Research Area: Ecology – Behavioural, marine predators and grazers

The movement of organisms is a fundamental feature of life that is central to almost all ecological and evolutionary processes. It affects survival and reproductive success, and influences the structuring of populations, communities and ecosystems. However, we lack a basic understanding of the mechanisms underlying when, how and why organisms move and disperse in natural habitats.

The research of the Sims Lab is focused on the movement ecology and conservation of marine top predators. Our research explores the patterns, mechanisms, causes and consequences of predator movement.

By studying the behavioural strategies of free-ranging marine fish, for example during searching and foraging, we address general questions in ecology: How do predators structure movement? Are there predictable ‘rules’? Do movement patterns change across scales? What causes the observed patterns? How are spatial re-distributions altered by environmental changes? What does this mean for predator conservation?

Our main approach is to track individual free-ranging sharks and other top predators using advanced telemetry (biologging) techniques, such as satellite-linked archival tags and radio-linked acoustic positioning systems. We integrate this spatial movement data with environmental fields (e.g. in situ sampling, remote sensing) and with novel analytical tools and simulations we test behavioural models to help understand what causes the movement patterns observed.

Contact Name: 
David Sims, Nick Humphries, Sophie Rainbird, Nick Halliday