The world is facing strong anthropogenic impacts by climate change and intensive exploitation of its natural resources. This will inevitably have profound consequences for ecological processes. Tropical Oceans have a substantial ecological significance but there is only little knowledge on their functioning. This knowledge, however, is crucial to evaluate effects of climate change and resource exploitation on these ecosystems. In the proposed project, the fellow will investigate these issues in the tropical Indian Ocean. Specifically, the objectives are 1) to determine the functional relationships between seabird ecology, bio-physical environment, and fisheries in the tropical Indian Ocean, and 2) to apply the acquired knowledge to assess the current and predict the future impact of climate change and tuna fisheries on the biodiversity of this ecosystem. The project takes advantage of differing oceanographic conditions in the eastern and western Indian Ocean allowing a comparative analysis between several seabird species subjected to oceanographic variability in two contrasting environments. The fellow will use already available data on key parameters of the seabirds’ ecology which have been collected at various sites on both sides of the Indian Ocean over several years. He will apply a wide array of state-of-the-art statistical, modelling and laboratory methodologies to analyse and interpret the data to accomplish the aforementioned objectives. The envisaged results will be relevant to the scientific community as well as to policy makers. They will fill the gap of knowledge on the functioning of the tropical Indian Ocean and allow to evaluate and predict anthropogenic effects on this ecosystem in particular and on tropical marine ecosystems in general. Beyond that, the results shall be used as a scientific foundation to develop management and conservation strategies for a sustainable use of tuna stocks of the Indian Ocean and the protection of its biodiversity.
Fields of science
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