Fiona McDuie

James Cook University, Cairns, Australia

I’m originally from Sydney, Australia and years spent years travelling and teaching diving afforded the opportunity to work in many areas of marine conservation, leading me to study marine biology and encouraging my subsequent passion for seabirds……

For the past 5 years I’ve studied seabird ecology focusing on evolutionary ecology, biology and foraging ecology in the tropics. My primary study species are tropical breeding wedge-tailed shearwaters (Puffinus pacificus), masked and brown boobies (Sula dactylatra and leucogaster respectively) which have colonies on the Great Barrier Reef. I’m presently at the conclusion of my PhD with Dr Brad Congdon of James Cook University in Cairns, Australia, the primary focus of which is aimed at determining the trophic mechanisms which regulate the distribution, abundance and availability of prey to pelagic foraging seabirds. I accomplish this through examining foraging behaviour and movement patterns of these seabirds, their ecological interactions in the marine environment and characterising critical foraging resources in terms of oceanographic and environmental parameters.

I have done a variety of field work with various researchers and many seabird species, primarily Procellariiformes such as Gould’s petrel, numerous species of storm petrels, diving petrels, shearwaters and larger petrels and blue penguins.

My primary areas of research interest are seabird conservation and marine and seabird ecology. I’m also interested in the conservation of other migratory marine vertebrate predators like whales, sharks and rays and the advantages and ability to employ such taxa as indicators of changes in the marine environment – with particular focus on threatening anthropogenic processes such as pollutants, fisheries interactions and climate-driven variation and how these affect breeding biology, foraging ecology, population dynamics and reproductive success.

Currently, I am the student representative for the Australasian Seabird Group and chair of the Early Career Scientist Committee for the forthcoming World Seabird Union conference scheduled to be held in Cape Town South Africa 26-31 October, 2015.