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Postgraduate research project

Explaining process, pattern and dynamics of marine predator hotspots in the Southern Ocean

Fully funded (UK and international)
Type of degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Entry requirements
2:1 honours degree View full entry requirements
Faculty graduate school
Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences
Closing date

About the project

Despite being among the largest remaining ‘marine wildernesses’, the Southern Ocean is impacted by climate change and human activities. Conservation and management of Southern Ocean ecosystems relies on understanding patterns of and processes causing the distribution of marine life, but this is logistically difficult. Recently, the Retrospective Analysis of Antarctic Tracking Data (RAATD) [1] compiled animal tracking data for 17 seabird and marine mammal species to model Areas of Ecological Significance (AES) with the rationale that these areas represent places of high prey abundance, diversity and accessibility [1]. However, the mechanisms and dynamics of these AES have only received superficial attention – what causes these to be important areas for seabirds and marine mammals? This PhD project will thus use the RAATD dataset [2], augmented with additional tracking data, in conjunction with various physical and biological oceanographic datasets to investigate: 1) what oceanographic processes and patterns underly AES in the Southern Ocean; and 2) the extent to which intra- and inter-annual environmental and behavioral variation affects the presence and persistence of AES in the Southern Ocean. The results will be used to assess the possibility of dynamic and/or process-based conservation and management approaches, and to what extent AES can be forecast.

For full project details visit the Inspire project page.


  • Ryan R Reisinger (University of Southampton)
  • Philip N Trathan (University of Southampton)
  • Hugh J Venables (British Antarctic Survey)