Understanding the diet of top order consumers is fundamental for assessing ecosystem dynamics, structure, and stability. Typically, there is a lag between the effects of environmental variation on lower trophic levels, and the ultimate effects on marine predators. Due to this, studying marine mammal and seabird diets can act as a mechanism for assessing the impact of environmental change on marine systems, and potentially forecasting future ecosystem states. Using DNA metabarcoding, we can obtain high-resolution dietary data from land-based marine predators non-invasively. For my PhD I will be developing a comprehensive framework for incorporating DNA dietary data into food web networks and models, with the aim of producing a marine ecosystem monitoring tool for sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island.
What my project involves
My project involves extracting DNA from marine predator poo to work out what they are eating and then integrating that data into food web networks.
Fun trivia about my research
Research project in a haiku
Seabirds and mammals
I look at their poo I do
Oh food webs from poo
My key research interests involve marine predators, ecology, genetics and modelling.
I did my undergraduate degree at the University of Queensland, studying Wildlife Science. After graduating I moved to Tasmania where I completed my masters in marine and Antarctic science, looking at the determinants of prey choice in the shy albatross.