Behaviour & Ecology
The study of behavioural ecology in the wild relies heavily on observations of individuals interacting with their environment. Marine mammals are notoriously difficult to study since many species are elusive and spend most of their time underwater. Because of this, many populations of marine mammals still lack even baseline data on their behaviour ecology, such as details on abundance and distribution, habitat use, foraging ecology, and genetic population structure. However, such data are needed for species and population conservation management.
Funded by the New Zealand Department of Conservation, Ministry of Primary Industries and many prestigious national and international scholarships, our work in this theme covers a wide spectrum of conservation matters. These include the assessment of tourism effects on various species and populations through to understanding the significance of habitats for biological significant processes including feeding, resting and reproduction.
Using a variety of methods, ranging from behavioural observations using photo-identification, over laboratory-based techniques such as stable isotope analyses, to quantitative methods such as species distribution modelling, researchers of CERG investigate the behavioural ecology of cetaceans in New Zealand and abroad.