PhD Candidate

Sophia Volzke

Current research

Modelling climate influences on Southern Elephant Seal Demography

What my project involves

With capture histories dating back to the 1960s, Macquarie Island holds one of the most continuously studied elephant seal populations. I will be developing demographic models to analyse the survival of southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina). The Macquarie Island population has been shown to be in continuous decline, while other populations are stable or increasing. We hope to explain some of this decline by incorporating environmental variables (eg Southern Annular Mode; sea-ice extent, etc.) into our models to see if changes in ecosystem structure may be influencing demographic parameters.

Fun trivia about my research

Research project in a haiku

Research-related interests

Marine ecology, modelling, biostatistics, wildlife photography

About me

I grew up in Berlin, Germany, moved to Brisbane in 2010 and commenced a Bachelor of Science (Tropical Marine Biology) at UQ in 2015. In 2018, I decided to transfer to UTAS to complete the Bachelor of Marine and Antarctic Science. My honours research on female southern elephant seals gained the highest achievement award of the 2020 IMAS Honours program and has since been extended into a 3-4 year PhD scholarship.

Previous work I've done

Previous research includes developing Hidden Markov Models to analyse long-time series mark-recapture data of Short-tailed Shearwaters. In 2021, I published my first scientific paper titled 'Climate influences on female survival in a declining population of southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina)'. It is available for open access viewing in Ecology & Evolution.

Committees and affiliations

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