Pierre A. Pistorius

Pierre A. Pistorius
Nelson Mandela University | NMMU · Department of Zoology

PhD

About

213
Publications
48,035
Reads
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2,675
Citations
Additional affiliations
December 2009 - present
Nelson Mandela University
Position
  • Professor (Associate)

Publications

Publications (213)
Article
To support sustainable growth of ocean-based economies, many countries are engaging in marine spatial planning (MSP) processes, which require robust decision-support tools. Systematic conservation planning (SCP) is commonly used in decision-making to guide spatially efficient protected area expansion. Here we contend that SCP can also be used to st...
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Information on marine predator at-sea distributions is key to understanding ecosystem and community dynamics and an important component of spatial management frameworks that aim to identify regions important for conservation. Tracking data from seabirds are widely used to define priority areas for conservation, but such data are often restricted to...
Article
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Birds exhibit wide variation in their use of aquatic environments, on a spectrum from entirely terrestrial, through amphibious, to highly aquatic. Although there are limited empirical data on hearing sensitivity of birds underwater, mounting evidence indicates that diving birds detect and respond to sound underwater, suggesting that some modificati...
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Although mitochondrial DNA has been widely used in phylogeography, evidence has emerged that factors such as climate, food availability, and environmental pressures that produce high levels of stress can exert a strong influence on mitochondrial genomes, to the point of promoting the persistence of certain genotypes in order to compensate for the m...
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Understanding climate change impacts on top predators is fundamental to marine biodiversity conservation, due to their increasingly threatened populations and their importance in marine ecosystems. We conducted a systematic review of the effects of climate change (prolonged, directional change) and climate variability on seabirds and marine mammals...
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Aim Climate change will likely lead to a significant redistribution of biodiversity in marine ecosystems. We examine the potential redistribution of a community of marine predators by comparing current and future habitat distribution projections. We examine relative changes among species, indicative of potential future community-level changes and c...
Preprint
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Vocalisations play a vital role in animal communication, as they are involved in many biological functions. Seabirds often breed in large and dense colonies, making successful recognition between mates or between parents-and offspring crucial for reproductive success. Most seabird species, including Cape gannets (Morus capensis), are monomorphic an...
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Aim Delimiting recently diverged species is challenging. During speciation, genetic differentiation may be distributed unevenly across the genome, as different genomic regions can be subject to different selective pressures and evolutionary histories. Reliance on limited numbers of genetic markers that may be underpowered can make species delimitat...
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Seabirds are distributed widely over the world’s oceans and have adopted a range of foraging tactics to secure food resources necessary for survival and reproduction. To better understand the foraging tactics and at-sea distribution of tropical seabirds, 38 Wedge-Tailed Shearwaters, Ardenna pacifica (WTS) from Réunion Island (21.375° S; 55.569° E)...
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Background Studies on animal behaviour often involve the quantification of the occurrence and duration of various activities. When direct observations are challenging (e.g., at night, in a burrow, at sea), animal-borne devices can be used to remotely record the movement and behaviour of an animal (e.g., changing body posture and movement, geographi...
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Many marine species exhibit fine-scale population structure despite high mobility and a lack of physical barriers to dispersal, but the evolutionary drivers of differentiation in these systems are generally poorly understood. Here we investigate the potential role of habitat transitions and seasonal prey distributions on the evolution of population...
Article
Populations of the macaroni penguin Eudyptes chrysolophus and the eastern rockhopper penguin E. filholi breeding at Marion Island (Prince Edward Islands) in the sub-Antarctic Indian Ocean decreased from 1994 to 2018. We examined their diets when rearing chicks during this period. There was substantial overlap in the diets of the two species, with c...
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Sexual competition is increasingly recognized as an important selective pressure driving species distributions. However, few studies have investigated the relative importance of inter‐ vs. intrapopulation competition in relation to habitat availability and selection. To explain spatial segregation between sexes that often occurs in non‐territorial...
Article
Birgus latro, the largest terrestrial arthropod in the world, has undergone a substantial decline globally over the last decades, with only a few healthy populations remaining where they are actively protected. We aimed to quantify demographic and spatio-temporal dynamics of a protected population of B. latro on Aldabra Atoll (Seychelles). Based on...
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Many seabirds are attracted to fishing boats where they exploit foraging opportunities , often involving bycatch-related mortality. Bycatch risk is generally estimated by overlapping seabirds foraging ranges with coarse-scale monthly maps of fishing efforts, but a more direct estimation would be the time birds actually spend attending fishing boats...
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Whereas the anthropogenic impact on marine biodiversity is undebated, the quantification and prediction of this change are not trivial. Simple traditional measures of biodiversity (e.g. richness, diversity indices) do not capture the magnitude and direction of changes in species or functional composition. In this paper, we apply recently developed...
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The massive number of seabirds (penguins and procellariiformes) and marine mammals (cetaceans and pinnipeds) – referred to here as top predators – is one of the most iconic components of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean. They play an important role as highly mobile consumers, structuring and connecting pelagic marine food webs and are widely studie...
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Coastally distributed dolphin species are vulnerable to a variety of anthropogenic pressures, yet a lack of abundance data often prevents data-driven conservation management strategies from being implemented. We investigated the abundance of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) along the south coast of South Africa, from the Goukamma...
Article
Knowledge of animal foraging behaviour has implications for management and conservation. While Cape fur seals Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus comprise a major proportion of the southern African marine predator biomass, little is known about their at-sea movements. We investigated foraging distribution, habitat use and diving behaviour for 35 adult...
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To mediate competition, similar sympatric species are assumed to use different resources, or the same but geographically separated resources. The two giant petrels (Macronectes spp.) are intriguing in that they are morphologically similar seabirds with overlapping diets and distributions. To better understand the mechanisms allowing their coexisten...
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Seasonal and annual climate variations are linked to fluctuations in the abundance and distribution of resources, posing a significant challenge to animals that need to adjust their foraging behavior accordingly. Particularly during adverse conditions, and while energetically constrained when breeding, animals ideally need to be flexible in their f...
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Penguins are the only extant family of flightless diving birds. They currently comprise at least 18 species, distributed from polar to tropical environments in the Southern Hemisphere. The history of their diversification and adaptation to these diverse environments remains controversial. We used 22 new genomes from 18 penguin species to reconstruc...
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Aim The conservation of biodiversity is hampered by data deficiencies, with many new species and subspecies awaiting description or reclassification. Population genomics and ecological niche modelling offer complementary new tools for uncovering functional units of phylogenetic diversity. We hypothesize that phylogenetically delineated lineages of...
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Background: Precise and accurate retrospective geolocation of marine predators via their tissues' isotopic composition relies on quality reference maps of relevant isotopic gradients ("isoscapes"). Additionally, a good working knowledge of any discrimination factors that may offset a marine predator's isotopic composition from baseline isotopic va...
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Southern Ocean ecosystems are under pressure from resource exploitation and climate change1,2. Mitigation requires the identification and protection of Areas of Ecological Significance (AESs), which have so far not been determined at the ocean-basin scale. Here, using assemblage-level tracking of marine predators, we identify AESs for this globally...
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The Retrospective Analysis of Antarctic Tracking Data (RAATD) is a Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research project led jointly by the Expert Groups on Birds and Marine Mammals and Antarctic Biodiversity Informatics, and endorsed by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. RAATD consolidated tracking data for mul...
Article
The Retrospective Analysis of Antarctic Tracking Data (RAATD) is a Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research project led jointly by the Expert Groups on Birds and Marine Mammals and Antarctic Biodiversity Informatics, and endorsed by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. RAATD consolidated tracking data for mul...
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Over evolutionary time, pathogen challenge shapes the immune phenotype of the host to better respond to an incipient threat. The extent and direction of this selection pressure depends on the local pathogen composition, which is in turn determined by biotic and abiotic features of the environment. However, little is known about adaptation to local...
Article
Diet studies of marine predators provide insights into the functioning and structure of marine ecosystems. Such studies have been greatly enhanced in recent years with technology enabling direct observation of feeding behaviour in the marine environment. We here report on observations of an interesting predation event involving Gentoo penguins (Pyg...
Article
We investigate the factors associated with the occurrence and abundance of external and blood parasites in African penguins (Spheniscus demersus), an endangered seabird that breeds exclusively on the coasts of Namibia and South Africa. External parasites were collected using the dust-ruffling method from 171 African Penguins admitted at a rehabilit...
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Seabirds are highly vocal on land where acoustic communication plays a crucial role in reproduction. Yet, seabirds spend most of their life at sea. They have developed a number of morphological, physiological and behavioural adaptations to forage in the marine environment. The use of acoustic signals at sea could potentially enhance seabirds' forag...
Article
The African Penguin Spheniscus demersus is an endangered seabird endemic to southern Africa, and killing sprees by terrestrial predators have been one of the main threats for its mainland colonies. The methods employed to manage predators may differ depending on the species involved, therefore the implementation of strategies to limit the impacts o...
Preprint
Full-text available
We investigated the abundance of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins ( Tursiops aduncus ) along the south coast of South Africa, from the Goukamma Marine Protected Area (MPA) to the Tsitsikamma MPA, between 2014 and 2016. During this period, 662.3h of boat-based photo-identification survey effort was carried out, and the sighting histories of 817 iden...
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The Cape Gannet Morus capensis is one of several seabird species endemic to the Benguela upwelling ecosystem (BUS) but whose population has recently decreased, leading to an unfavourable IUCN Red List assessment. Application of ‘JARA’ (‘Just Another Red-List Assessment,’ a Bayesian state-space tool used for IUCN Red List assessments) to updated inf...
Article
Social cohesion and prey location in seabirds are largely enabled through visual and olfactory signals, but these behavioural aspects could potentially also be enhanced through acoustic transfer of information. Should this be the case, calling behaviour could be influenced by different social‐ecological stimuli. African Penguins Spheniscus demersus...
Data
The file contains tracking data of albatrosses from Crozet, Kerguelen, Amsterdam and Marion Islands, including identity, location, presence of vessels and detection of radar emission. The data are used in various papers. For additional information contact henri.weimerskirch@cebc.cnrs.fr or corbeau.alexandre@gmail.com
Article
African penguins (Spheniscus demersus) are pursuit-diving seabirds endemic to the coast of southern Africa. In this study, we investigate the presence of seashells and anthropogenic debris (e.g. plastic, glass, nylon) in the stomach contents of adult African penguins, as determined from sampling of live penguins through the water off-loading techni...
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The common dolphins (genus Delphinus) are widely distributed in all temperate and tropical oceans. Over this wide geographical distribution they show considerable range in morphological variation, which has led to descriptions of several species in the genus. Until recently, only two species of Delphinus were accepted, but this classification has b...
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Babesia species are tickborne hemoprotozoans. Although experiments have shown that primaquine is highly effective in the treatment of Babesia species infections in mammals, this drug has not been widely used for the treatment of avian babesiosis. Consequently, the treatment of this disease for avian patients has traditionally relied on an empirical...
Article
The study of systematics in wide-ranging seabirds can be challenging due to the vast geographic scales involved, as well as the possible discordance between molecular, morphological and behavioral data. In the Southern Ocean, macaroni penguins (Eudyptes chrysolophus) are distributed over a circumpolar range including populations in Antarctic and su...
Article
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Visual and olfactory signals are commonly used by seabirds to locate prey in the horizontal domain, but foraging success depends on prey depth and the seabird's ability to access it. Facilitation by diving seabirds has long been hypothesized as a mechanism to elevate deep prey to regions more accessible to volant seabirds, but this has never been d...
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The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (Cape Town, South Africa) regularly receives African Penguins (Spheniscus demersus) for rehabilitation. The impact of life history and clinical parameters at admission of 3,975 chicks, 1,687 blues (chicks without downy plumage that are about to fledge or have recently fledged) an...
Article
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The Indian Ocean humpback dolphin (Sousa plumbea; G. Cuvier, 1829) is the most endangered marine mammal species in South Africa, and the overall decline of its abundance and group size may affect the social organization of the species, potentially accentuating its vulnerability. Understanding the social organization is therefore particularly releva...
Article
Seabirds spend most of their time at sea, yet our knowledge of their activities and behaviour is limited due to difficulties of in‐situ data collection. In particular, we know virtually nothing about their acoustic communication when at sea. We benefited from the recent development of miniaturised audio‐recording devices to deployacoustic recorders...
Article
Biologging technologies have revolutionised our understanding of the foraging ecology and life history traits of marine predators, allowing for high resolution information about location, and in some cases, foraging behaviour of wild animals. At the same time, stable isotope ecologists have independently developed methods to infer location and fora...
Article
Full-text available
The distribution and habitat use of the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin Tursiops aduncus along the south coast of South Africa was investigated using bi-monthly boat-based surveys, from 2013 to 2016, over a distance of 145 km between the Goukamma and Tsitsikamma marine protected areas (MPAs). Survey effort totalled 6 239 km and 750.6 hours. Encount...
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Magellanic Penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus) are common winter visitors of the Brazilian continental shelf. In this study we report the occurrence of discolored and worn-out plumage in juvenile Magellanic Penguins washed ashore during summer on the southeast and northeast coast of Brazil. In the affected individuals, the areas of the plumage that...
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Since at least the middle-Miocene, the Antarctic Polar Front (APF) and the Subtropical Front (STF) appear to have been the main drivers of diversification of marine biota in the Southern Ocean. However, highly migratory marine birds and mammals challenge this paradigm and the importance of oceanographic barriers. Eudyptes penguins range from the An...
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Taxonomy plays an important role in conservation biology. Despite the variety of methods used to differentiate units, some groups, such as Delphinidae within the Cetacea have proven difficult to untangle. This study aimed to shed light on morphological variation of the genus Tursiops in South African waters using geometric morphometrics and to dist...
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Background: Anaplasma spp. are Gram-negative obligate intracellular bacteria transmitted by ticks. Even though numerous studies have detected DNA from Anaplasma spp. in the blood of birds, thus far mammals were the only vertebrates demonstrated to serve as competent hosts to these organisms. We report a novel candidate species of Anasplasma that w...