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Long-term Trends in Sooty Shearwaters (Tītī; Puffinus griseus): Using a culturally important seabird to predict shifts in the Southern Oscillation

PhD Candidate

Grant Humphries


Project dates


Brief abstract

Sooty shearwaters (Tītī; Puffinus griseus) are culturally important seabirds for the Rakiura Māori of New Zealand. They have also been shown to be able to predict El Niño Southern Oscillation by about 6 – 8 months, based on harvest data collected by several families.

This study proposes to examine the mechanism by which Sooty shearwaters predict El Niño Southern Oscillation. To achieve this goal, Grant plans to use newly developed GPS tags ("Fast Fix tags") that have been developed by the Department of Physics at the University of Otago. Fast fix tags will be attached to adult birds to track their at-sea movements. These positions can be associated with oceanographic features (i.e., sea surface temperature, chlorophyll a, winds, etc.) to help determine resource selection by Sooty shearwaters.

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