Stuart Bearhop

Stuart Bearhop
University of Exeter | UoE · Centre for Ecology and Conservation

PhD Evolutionary and Environmental Biology
Please note I do not check this page regularly. If you want to chat about research, email s.bearhop@exeter.ac.uk

About

251
Publications
95,161
Reads
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23,556
Citations
Citations since 2017
62 Research Items
13544 Citations
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Introduction
I am a Professor of Animal Ecology at the University of Exeter's Centre for Ecology and Conservation in Cornwall. If you have a query, contact me via email (s.bearhop@exeter.ac.uk)
Additional affiliations
January 2007 - present
University of Exeter
Description
  • Started as a Senior Lecturer in Conservation Biology, promoted to Professor of Animal Ecology in July 2011. Research on intra-population variation in foraging and movement behavour and the use of stable isotopes as tracers of nutrient flow.
January 2003 - December 2006
Queen's University Belfast
Description
  • Lecturer in Conservation Biology
April 2000 - August 2001
Durham University
Position
  • PDRA

Publications

Publications (251)
Article
1. Arctic‐breeding goose populations have increased in recent decades and their expansion into agricultural areas has caused increasing conflict with farmers due to the damage they cause. Lethal control and scaring are common management strategies of conflict mitigation. Management typically focuses on local/national scales, making addressing the i...
Preprint
Full-text available
1. Researchers generally ascribe demographic drivers in a single or few sub-populations and presume they are representative. With this information, practitioners implement blanket conservation measures across metapopulations to reverse declines. However, such approaches may not be appropriate in circumstances where sub-populations are spatiotempora...
Article
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Arctic-nesting geese face energetic challenges during spring migration, including ecological barriers and weather conditions (e.g., precipitation and temperature), which in long-lived species can lead to a trade-off to defer reproduction in favor of greater survival. We used GPS location and acceleration data collected from 35 greater white-fronted...
Preprint
Climate change has been driving long-distance migratory birds to alter their schedules under the threat of being mismatched with their food peak at the breeding grounds. It is important to study the relative contribution of environmental, genetic and ontogenetic components in various spring timing traits in the wild in order to predict the true pot...
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Species translocation is a popular approach in contemporary ecological restoration and rewilding. Improving the efficacy of conservation translocation programmes requires a combination of robust data from comparable populations, population viability modelling and post-release monitoring. Biotelemetry is becoming an ever more accessible means to col...
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Deterrents against avian pest species might be more effective if they were based on some aspect of the target species' sensory salience. Sonic Nets broadcast a loud and spatially‐ focused pink noise that spans the frequency range of the target species' vocalizations, restricting interspecific communication so that it is costly for birds to remain i...
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Animal migrations represent the regular movements of trillions of individuals. The scale of these movements has inspired human intrigue for millennia and has been intensively studied by biologists. This research has highlighted the diversity of migratory strategies seen across and within migratory taxa: while some migrants temporarily express pheno...
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Advancements in biologging technology allow terabytes of data to be collected that record the location of individuals but also their direction, speed and acceleration. These multi-stream data sets allow researchers to infer movement and behavioural patterns at high spatiotemporal resolutions and in turn quantify fine-scale changes in state along wi...
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...
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Releasing gamebirds in large numbers for sport shooting may directly or indirectly influence the abundance, distribution and population dynamics of native wildlife. The abundances of generalist predators have been positively associated with the abundance of gamebirds. These relationships have implications for prey populations, with the potential fo...
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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...
Preprint
Full-text available
Advancements in biologging technology allow terabytes of data to be collected that record the location of individuals but also their direction, speed and acceleration. These multi-stream data sets allow researchers to determine movement and behavioural patterns at high spatiotemporal resolutions and in turn quantify fine-scale changes in state alon...
Article
Full-text available
Illegal killing of wildlife is a major conservation issue that, to be addressed effectively, requires insight into the drivers of human behaviour. Here we adapt an established socio-psychological model, the theory of planned behaviour, to explore reasons for hunting the Endangered Bewick's swan Cygnus columbianus bewickii in the European Russian Ar...
Article
Long-distance migration in birds is a complex syndrome that involves high energy costs and, in some species, substantial physiological re-organisation. Such flexible migratory phenotypes are commonly associated with bird species flying non-stop across vast ecological barriers, where there are few opportunities to stop and refuel en route . Prior to...
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...
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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
Songbird populations are in decline all over the world, and our understanding of the causal mechanisms remains surprisingly limited. It is important to identify the extent of individual variation in migratory behaviour to better understand species' ability to respond to environmental change. We describe the annual migratory behaviour of British bre...
Article
Symbioses are ubiquitous in the animal kingdom. However, in most cases, the role of each member is relatively fixed, and it is rare for the same species to exhibit different symbiotic behaviours throughout its ontogeny. Here, we use stable isotope analyses of food resources to identify the relationships between the spider crab Libinia ferreirae as...
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Predation of wildlife by domestic cats Felis catus presents a threat to biodiversity conservation in some ecological contexts. The proportions of wild prey captured and eaten by domestic cats and thus the contributions of wild prey to cat diets are hard to quantify. This limits the understanding of any impacts of cats may have on wild animal popula...
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It is increasingly important to understand animal migratory movements because climate disruption is shifting plant and animal phenology at different rates across the world. We applied a Markov state‐switching model to telemetry data of a long‐distance migrant, the barnacle goose, to detect migratory movement and relate it to three proximate environ...
Article
Population growth rates in geese can be sensitive to small changes in survival and/or production of young and understanding which demographic rates explain more variation in population change can be crucial for implementing effective conservation actions. Here, we show that annual adult survival and production of young (assessed in winter) explaine...
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Devil facial tumor disease (DFTD) is a transmissible cancer affecting Tasmanian devils Sarcophilus harrisii. The disease has caused severe population declines and is associated with demographic and behavioral changes, including earlier breeding, younger age structures, and reduced dispersal and social interactions. Devils are generally solitary, bu...
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A key goal of conservation is to protect biodiversity by supporting the long-term persistence of viable, natural populations of wild species. Conservation practice has long been guided by genetic, ecological and demographic indicators of risk. Emerging evidence of animal culture across diverse taxa and its role as a driver of evolutionary diversifi...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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Billions of vertebrates migrate to and from their breeding grounds annually, exhibiting astonishing feats of endurance. Many such movements are energetically costly yet there is little consensus on whether or how such costs might influence schedules of survival and reproduction in migratory animals. Here we provide a global analysis of associations...
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Age‐related changes in diet have implications for competitive interactions and for predator–prey dynamics, affecting individuals and groups at different life stages. To quantify patterns of variation and ontogenetic change in the diets of Tasmanian devils Sarcophilus harrisii , a threatened marsupial carnivore, we analyzed variation in the stable i...
Article
Anthropogenic climate disruption, including temperature and precipitation regime shifts, has been linked to animal population declines since the mid‐20th century. However, some species, such as Arctic‐breeding geese, have thrived during this period. An increased understanding of how climate disruption might link to demographic rates in thriving spe...
Article
Global anthropogenic changes are significantly impacting the ecology and evolution of many species. Among temperate taxa, changes to reproductive phenology as a result of warming springs are apparent. However, how such responses to abiotic change interact with biotic impacts resulting from human management interventions are less clear. Here we exam...
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Monitoring postrelease establishment and movement of animals is important in evaluating conservation translocations. We translocated 39 wild pine martens Martes martes (19 females, 20 males) from Scotland to Wales. We released them into forested areas with no conspecifics in 2015, followed by a second release in 2016, alongside the previously relea...
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1.Physiological processes, including those that disrupt oxidative balance, have been proposed as key to understanding fundamental life history trade‐offs. Yet examination of changes in oxidative balance within wild animals across time, space and major life history challenges remain uncommon. For example, migration presents substantial physiological...
Article
Predators can shape the distributions and dynamics of their prey through direct and indirect mechanisms. Where prey animals are regarded as pests, the augmentation of predator populations might offer a potential tool in their management. Declines in invasive non‐native grey squirrel Sciurus carolinensis populations in Ireland and Scotland have been...
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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...
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Identifying and understanding patterns in movement data are amongst the principal aims of movement ecology. By quantifying the similarity of movement trajectories, inferences can be made about diverse processes, ranging from individual specialisation to the ontogeny of foraging strategies. Movement analysis is not unique to ecology however, and met...
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Ecologists quantify animal diets using direct and indirect methods, including analysis of faeces, pellets, prey items and gut contents. For stable isotope analyses of diet, Bayesian stable isotope mixing models (BSIMMs) are increasingly used to infer the relative importance of food sources to consumers. Although a powerful approach, it has been har...
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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...
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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...
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Killing protected species mistaken for morphologically similar quarry species, or species with weaker protection, can hinder their conservation. Despite policy aims to reduce threats from illegal killing, information is lacking on susceptible species, conservation impacts and the identification accuracy of hunters. We examined the ability of hunter...
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Understanding the rich social lives of animals benefits international conservation efforts
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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...
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Oxidative stress is a likely consequence of hard physical exertion and thus a potential mediator of life-history trade-offs in migratory animals. However, little is known about the relative importance of intrinsic and extrinsic stres-sors on the oxidative state of individuals in wild populations. We quantified the relationships between air temperat...
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
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...
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Throughout the Western World, huge numbers of people regularly supply food for wild birds. However, evidence of negative impacts of winter feeding on future reproduction has highlighted a need to improve understanding of the underlying mechanisms shaping avian responses to supplementary food. Here, we test the possibility that carry‐over effects ar...
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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...
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The use of biologging devices continues to increase with technological advances yielding remarkable ecological insights and generating new research questions. However, as devices develop and are deployed more widely, there is a need to update our knowledge of the potential ethical impacts to allow scientists to balance these against the knowledge g...
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Stable isotope mixing models (SIMMs) are an important tool used to study species’ trophic ecology. These models are dependent on, and sensitive to, the choice of trophic discrimination factors (TDF) representing the offset in stable isotope delta values between a consumer and their food source when they are at equilibrium. Ideally, controlled feedi...
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Understanding how individuals manage costs during the migration period is challenging because individuals are difficult to follow between sites; the advent of hybrid Global Positioning System–acceleration (ACC) tracking devices enables researchers to link spatial and temporal attributes of avian migration with behavior for the first time ever. We f...
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Individual foraging specializations, where individuals use a small component of the population niche width, are widespread in nature with important ecological and evolutionary implications. In long-lived animals, foraging ability develops with age, but we know little about the ontogeny of individuality in foraging. Here we use precision global posi...
Data
Table of tracking data; Plots of NND sex differences; Breeder tracking data; Immature tracking data; Failed breeder tracking data
Article
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Birds that migrate across high altitude mountain ranges are faced with the challenge of maintaining vigorous exercise in environments with limited oxygen. Ruddy shelducks are known to use wintering grounds south of the Tibetan Plateau at sea level and breeding grounds north of Himalayan mountain range. Therefore, it is likely these shelducks are pr...
Article
Multichannel feeding, whereby consumers feed across resource channels such as upon herbivore and detritivore resources, acts to link discrete compartments of a food web with implications for ecosystem functioning and stability. Currently however, we have little understanding which feeding strategies of consumers underlie multichannel feeding. We th...
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As a result of ecological and social drivers, the management of problems caused by wildlife is becoming more selective, often targeting specific animals. Narrowing the sights of management relies upon the ecology of certain 'problem individuals' and their disproportionate contribution to impacts upon human interests. We assess the ecological eviden...
Preprint
Full-text available
1. Stable isotope analysis is a widely used tool for the reconstruction and interpretation of animal diets and trophic relationships. Analytical tools have improved the robustness of inferring the relative contribution of different prey sources to an animal’s diet by accounting for many of the sources of variation in isotopic data. One major source...
Preprint
Full-text available
1. Stable isotope analysis is a widely used tool for the reconstruction and interpretation of animal diets and trophic relationships. Analytical tools have improved the robustness of inferring the relative contribution of different prey sources to an animal’s diet by accounting for many of the sources of variation in isotopic data. One major source...
Article
Full-text available
The manner in which patterns of variation and interactions among demographic rates contribute to population growth rate (λ) are key to understanding how animal populations will respond to changing climatic conditions. Migratory species are likely to be particularly sensitive to climatic conditions as they experience a range of different environment...
Article
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Amongst migratory species, it is common to find individuals from different populations or geographical origins sharing staging or wintering areas. Given their differing life histories, ecological theory would predict that the different groups of individuals should exhibit some level of niche segregation. This has rarely been investigated because of...
Article
Monitoring public perception of conservation is essential to ensure successful conservation outcomes. However, evaluating attitudes towards conservation projects presents daunting challenges because it is time consuming, expensive and open to social biases and small sample-size errors. Here, we present a recently developed approach to overcome thes...
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Background Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the most significant threat to global public health and ascertaining the role wild birds play in the epidemiology of resistance is critically important. This study investigated the prevalence of AMR Gram-negative bacteria among long-distance migratory East Canadian High Arctic (ECHA) light-bellied Brent...
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Upwelling regions are highly productive habitats targeted by wide-ranging marine predators and industrial fisheries. In this study, we track the migratory movements of eight seabird species from across the Atlantic; quantify overlap with the Canary Current Large Marine Ecosystem (CCLME) and determine the habitat characteristics that drive this asso...
Article
Although the body size of consumers may be a determinant factor in structuring food webs, recent evidence indicates that body size may fail to fully explain differences in the resource use patterns of predators in some situations. Here we compared the trophic niche of three sympatric and sexually dimorphic air-breathing marine predators (the South...