Stephen C Votier

Stephen C Votier
University of Exeter | UoE · College of Life and Environmental Sciences

BSc (HONS)

About

177
Publications
67,101
Reads
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8,400
Citations
Introduction
I am an Associate Professor of Marine Ecology & Conservation at the Environment & Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter.
Additional affiliations
July 2013 - present
University of Exeter
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
September 2005 - June 2013
University of Plymouth
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
October 2004 - August 2005
The University of Sheffield
Position
  • PDRA
Description
  • Post-doc working with Professors Tim Birkhead and Ben Hatchwell investigating factors influencing long-term changes in common guillemot demography. This involved analysis of Tim & Ben's long-term study population on Skomer, Wales.
Education
September 1992 - June 1995
Newcastle University
Field of study
  • Biological Sciences

Publications

Publications (177)
Article
Full-text available
Seabirds are declining globally and are one of the most threatened groups of birds. To halt or reverse this decline they need protection both on land and at sea, requiring site-based conservation initiatives based on seabird abundance and diversity. The Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) programme is a method of identifying the most importa...
Article
Despite urbanisation’s general erosion of biodiversity, towns and cities provide novel opportunities for some species. During the 20th century, gulls (Laridae) colonised urban areas around the world where they flourished. At the same time, some coastal populations declined. Reasons for this difference are not fully understood, partly because little...
Article
Fishery discards supplement food for many seabirds, but the impacts of declining discards are poorly understood. Discards may be beneficial for some populations but have negative impacts by increasing bycatch risk or because they are junk-food. The Falkland Islands support > 70% of global black-browed albatross Thalassarche melanophris populations,...
Chapter
In the past three decades scientists have been equipping free-living seabirds with biologging devices to provide information about their behaviour in unprecedented detail. However, more recently the miniaturisation of tracking devices, have enabled scientists to understand the precise distribution patterns of seabirds across a variety of scales and...
Article
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Few studies have assessed the influence of data quality on the predicted probability of occurrence and preferred habitat of marine predators. We compared results from four species distribution models (SDMs) for four southern-hemisphere albatross species, Buller’s (Thalassarche bulleri), Campbell (T. impavida), grey-headed (T. chrysostoma), and whit...
Article
Incidental mortality in trawl fisheries is a serious threat to seabird sustainability. Driven primarily by seabirds attracted to discards, limiting discard discharge through strategic batching is a best practice mitigation measure recommended by the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP). However, studies supporting the eff...
Article
Antarctic marine ecosystems are often considered to be pristine environments, yet wildlife in the polar regions may still be exposed to high levels of environmental contaminants. Here, we measured total mercury (THg) concentrations in blood samples from adult brown skuas Stercorarius antarcticus lonnbergi (n = 82) from three breeding colonies south...
Article
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Background Landfills are a major subsidy for some animals, with implications for their life history and demography. Gulls feed extensively on food from landfills and closures are expected to have ecological consequences, but how this influences movement ecology is virtually unknown. Methods We used GPS-tracking to quantify foraging behaviour and h...
Article
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Sexual segregation, the differential space, habitat or resource use by males and females, can have profound implications for conservation, as one sex may be more vulnerable to environmental and anthropogenic stressors. The drivers of sexual segregation, such as sex differences in body size, breeding constraints, and social behaviour, have been well...
Article
Capsule Ring recoveries show no long-term changes in how far south Northern Gannets Morus bassanus migrate or which Large Marine Ecosystem (LME) they were recovered in over nine decades, but underestimate recovery distance compared to geolocation tracking. Aims To test for change in Gannet migration using ring recoveries from 1930 to 2018 and comp...
Article
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Background Social interactions, reproductive demands and intrinsic constraints all influence foraging decisions in animals. Understanding the relative importance of these factors in shaping the way that coexisting species within communities use and partition resources is central to knowledge of ecological and evolutionary processes. However, in mar...
Article
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Sex differences in diet and foraging behaviour are common in sexually dimorphic species, often driven by differences in the cost of locomotion or ability to exploit different ecological niches. However, sex-specific foraging strategies also occur in monomorphic or slightly dimorphic species where the drivers are poorly understood. Here, we study se...
Article
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Sex-specific niche differentiation is common in marine vertebrates, but how this varies long-term is poorly understood. Here we investigated interannual variation in sexual segregation among breeding northern gannets Morus bassanus, wide-ranging central-place foragers with slight sexual dimorphism. Over 11 breeding seasons, we used GPS tracking and...
Article
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Northern Macronectes halli and southern giant petrels M. giganteus are opportunistic predators and the dominant avian scavengers in sub-Antarctic and Antarctic ecosystems. At South Georgia, there are globally important breeding populations of both species; however, no detailed diet study has been carried out at this site for > 35 years. Here, we an...
Article
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On many Pacific and Indian Ocean islands, colonization by humans brought invasive species, native vegetation destruction and coconut plantations, leading to the decimation of seabird populations. The coconut industry on oceanic islands has since crashed, leaving the legacy of altered, impoverished ecosystems. Many island restoration projects eradic...
Article
Fisheries have impacted seabird populations worldwide, either via bycatch mortality or resource depletion. Understanding the overlap between seabird distributions and fisheries is an important element for bycatch risk assessment, though the drivers of variation in seabird–fishery overlap are not well understood for some seabird populations. Here, w...
Article
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Mercury (Hg) is an environmental contaminant which, at high concentrations, can negatively influence avian physiology and demography. Albatrosses (Diomedeidae) have higher Hg burdens than all other avian families. Here, we measure total Hg (THg) concentrations of body feathers from adult grey-headed albatrosses ( Thalassarche chrysostoma ) at South...
Article
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Given the recent trend towards establishing very large marine protected areas (MPAs) and the high potential of these to contribute to global conservation targets, we review outcomes of the last decade of marine conservation research in the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), one of the largest MPAs in the world. The BIOT MPA consists of the atol...
Article
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Natural selection should favour strategies that maximise reproductive success. Females may use different resources during progressive stages of reproduction according to energetic demands, behavioural constraints and prey availability. We used South American fur seal, Arctocephalus australis australis, pup whisker isotope values as proxies for mate...
Article
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The non‐breeding period is critical for restoration of body condition and self‐maintenance in albatrosses, yet detailed information on diet and distribution during this stage of the annual cycle is lacking for many species. Here, we use stable isotope values of body feathers (δ13C, δ15N) to infer habitat use and trophic level of non‐breeding adult...
Article
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Background: State-space models are important tools for quality control and analysis of error-prone animal movement data. The near real-time (within 24 h) capability of the Argos satellite system can aid dynamic ocean management of human activities by informing when animals enter wind farms, shipping lanes, and other intensive use zones. This capab...
Article
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Seabirds are one of the most threatened avian taxa and are hence a high conservation priority. Managing seabirds is challenging, requiring conservation actions at sea (e.g. Marine Protected Areas - MPAs) and on land (e.g. protection of breeding sites). Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) have been successfully used to identify sites of glo...
Article
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Fisheries bycatch is one of the biggest threats to seabird populations. Managers need to identify where and when bycatch occurs and ensure effective action. In 1999, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations released the International Plan of Action for Reducing Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries (IPOA-s) encouragi...
Preprint
Full-text available
State-space models are important tools for quality control of error-prone animal movement data. The near real-time (within 24 h) capability of the Argos satellite system aids dynamic ocean management of human activities by informing when animals enter intensive use zones. This capability also facilitates use of ocean observations from animal-borne...
Article
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Introduced mammals have devastated island nesting seabird populations worldwide. Declines in breeding seabirds on St Kilda, UK, have been linked to climate change and predation from great skuas Stercorarius skuas, but the introduced St Kilda field mouse Apodemus sylvaticus hirtensis may also play a role by feeding on adults, chicks or eggs. Here, w...
Article
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Sexual segregation has important ecological implications, but its initial development in early life stages is poorly understood. We investigated the roles of size dimorphism, social behavior, and predation risk on the ontogeny of sexual segregation in Antarctic fur seal, Arctocephalus gazella, pups at South Georgia. Beaches and water provide opport...
Article
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Competition for resources within a population can lead to niche partitioning between sexes, throughout ontogeny and among individuals, allowing con-specifics to co-exist. We aimed to quantify such partitioning in Antarctic fur seals, Arctocephalus gazella, breeding at South Georgia, which hosts ~95% of the world’s population. Whiskers were collecte...
Article
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Diet analyses can reveal important changes in seabird foraging ecology and, by inference, resource availability and predator–prey dynamics within the wider marine ecosystem. Here, we analysed stomach contents of 1544 grey-headed albatross Thalassarche chrysostoma (GHA) and black-browed albatross T. melanophris (BBA) chicks from Bird Island, South G...
Article
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Fisheries produce large amounts of waste, providing food subsidies for scavengers. Discards influence seabird movement, demography and community structure, but little is known about seabird-fishery interactions where discarding is banned. Here, we investigate how northern gannets Morus bassanus respond to fishing vessels in Iceland, where discardin...
Article
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Capsule: Great Black-backed Gulls Larus marinus breeding on Skokholm, UK, fed predominantly on seabirds, rabbits, refuse, and marine prey, with the majority of pairs being dietary generalists, but with some specialist pairs. Aims: To understand the significance of Great Black-backed Gulls as top predators on a small offshore island with internation...
Article
Every year fisheries discard >10 million tonnes of fish. This provides a bounty for scavengers, yet the ecological impact of discarding is understudied. Seabirds are the best‐studied discard scavengers and fisheries have shaped their movement ecology, demography and community structure. However, we know little about the number of scavenging seabird...
Article
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Patterns of behavioural variation and migratory connectivity are important characteristics of populations, particularly at the edges of species distributions, where processes involved in influencing evolutionary trajectories, such as divergence, mutual persistence, and natural hybridization, can occur. Here, we focused on two closely related seabir...
Article
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Individuals of many species utilise social information whilst making decisions. While many studies have examined social information in making large scale decisions, there is increasing interest in the use of fine scale social cues in groups. By examining the use of these cues and how they alter behaviour, we can gain insights into the adaptive valu...
Article
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Migration is a fundamental behavioral process prevalent among a wide variety of animal taxa. As individuals are increasingly shown to present consistent responses to environmental cues for breeding or foraging, it may be expected that approaches to migration would present similar among-individual consistencies. Seabirds frequently show consistent i...
Article
Many animal taxa exhibit sex-specific variation in ecological traits, such as foraging and distribution. These differences could result in sex-specific responses to change, but such demographic effects are poorly understood. Here, we test for sex-specific differences in the demography of northern (NGP, Macronectes halli) and southern (SGP, M. gigan...
Article
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Marine vertebrates show a diversity of migration strategies, including sex differences. This may lead to differential demography, but the consequences of such between-sex variation are little understood. Here we studied the migration of known-sex northern gannets Morus bassanus – a partial migrant with females ~8% heavier than males. We used geoloc...
Article
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Shearwaters and petrels (hereafter petrels) are highly adapted seabirds that occur across all the world’s oceans. Petrels are a threatened seabird group comprising 124 species. They have bet-hedging life histories typified by extended chick rearing periods, low fecundity, high adult survival, strong philopatry, monogamy and long-term mate fidelity...
Article
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To successfully exploit resources, animals must be adapted to operate under phenotypic and environmental constraints. The strategies that predators use to locate prey are therefore diverse, particularly for breeding central-place foragers that must balance investment in reproduction and self-maintenance. Magnificent frigatebirds Fregata magnificens...
Article
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Understanding and predicting a species' distribution across a landscape is of central importance in ecology, biogeography, and conservation biology. However, it presents daunting challenges when populations are highly dynamic (i.e. increasing or decreasing their ranges), particularly for small populations where information about ecology and life hi...
Article
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Quantitative radar studies are an important component of studying the movements of birds. Whether a bird, at a certain distance from the radar, is detected or not depends on its size. The volume monitored by the radar is therefore different for birds of different sizes. Consequently, an accurate quantification of bird movements recorded by small‐sc...
Article
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Understanding anthropogenic impacts are crucial to maintain marine ecosystem health. The North Sea has changed in recent decades, largely due to commercial fishing and climate change. Seabirds can act as useful indicators of these changes. By analyzing n ¼ 20 013 pellets and n ¼ 24 993 otoliths regurgitated by great skuas Stercorarius skua in north...
Article
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1.Interspecific competition can drive niche partitioning along multidimensional axes, including allochrony. Competitor matching will arise where the phenology of sympatric species with similar ecological requirements respond to climate change at different rates such that allochrony is reduced. 2.Our study quantifies the degree of niche segregation...
Article
Individual specialisations in animals are important contributors to a wide range of ecological and evolutionary processes, and have been particularly documented in relation to multiple aspects of foraging behaviours. Central-place foragers, such as seabirds, frequently exhibit pronounced specialisations and individual differences in a variety of fo...
Article
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Inter-individual variation in behavioural traits has important implications for evolutionary and ecological processes. Site fidelity, where individuals consistently use the same foraging site, is common among marine predators. Sex differences in foraging are also well studied in marine vertebrates, but the extent to which consistent inter-individua...
Article
Understanding population dynamics requires knowledge of the differential effects of survival, productivity and dispersal on population growth. This is particularly important for the conservation of small and recently established populations, where stochastic births and deaths may result in negative growth and even extinction. Here, we investigated...
Article
Mid-latitude (∼30-60°) seasonally stratifying shelf-seas support a high abundance and diversity of marine predators such as marine mammals and seabirds. However, anthropogenic activities and climate change impacts are driving changes in the distributions and population dynamics of these animals, with negative consequences for ecosystem functioning....
Article
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Global forage-fish landings are increasing, with potentially grave consequences for marine ecosystems. Predators of forage fish may be influenced by this harvest, but the nature of these effects is contentious. Experimental fishery manipulations offer the best solution to quantify population-level impacts, but are rare. We used Bayesian inference t...
Article
Migratory animals show great diversity of movement within populations, but the causes and consequences of this variability are poorly understood. Tracking a migratory seabird across its range reveals how environmental, latitudinal and demographic conditions shape migratory journeys and fitness.
Article
Full-text available
Search behavior is often used as a proxy for foraging effort within studies of animal movement, despite it being only one part of the foraging process, which also includes prey capture. While methods for validating prey capture exist, many studies rely solely on behavioral annotation of animal movement data to identify search and infer prey capture...