MSc Biological Recording, University of Birmingham (2014)
BSs (Hons) Biology, University of Southampton (2008)
Start Date: 1st October 2015
3V1a Cottrell Building
Biological & Environmental Sciences
Faculty of Natural Sciences
University of Stirling
Stirling, Scotland, FK9 4LA
Tel: +44 (0)1786 467839
fax: +(44) 1786 467843
Seabird-mediated impacts of marine environment changes on agri-ecosystem productivity
The sustainability of livestock grazing in marginal areas of Scotland is influenced by local nutrient availability. However, these unproductive pastures often occur adjacent to the productive marine ecosystems. Seabirds feeding within marine environments can act as a vector, depositing allochthonous nutrients into an otherwise nutrient-poor system, with the potential for cascading effects on plant and invertebrate communities as well as livestock.
Great Skua, Stercorarius skua, colonies on Shetland provide an ideal system to work with as they feed in the marine environment and breed inland on nutrient-poor soils used for extensive livestock grazing. Using sites that support different colony densities we aim to demonstrate the impacts of these birds on the productivity and community composition of the agri-ecosystem on Shetland. In addition, using stable isotope analysis we hope to confirm the origins of nutrients at different trophic levels and to gain an insight into food-web dynamics.
A large proportion of Great Skua diet is derived from commercial fishing discard. Therefore, an additional element of this work is to evaluate how recent and future proposed changes in EU fishing policy may impact the local terrestrial agroecology.