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Office: Zoology Department, Marples 117Sabadel


Academic qualifications

  • MSc (University of Montpellier II, France)
  • PhD (University of Otago)

Research interests

  • Food web ecology
  • Stable isotopes
  • Parasitology
  • Nutrient cycling
  • Biogeochemistry

My research focuses on trophic ecology, with a particular interest in biochemical reactions and biomass transfer occurring in the world of tiny things. From the investigation of the cycling of organic matter in open oceans to the tracking of energy transfers through various food webs, via the reconstruction of ancient and modern diets.

I use a broad range of analytical techniques, but particularly compound-specific stable isotope analysis of amino acids and fatty acids.

Ongoing research projects

  • How to fit parasites in food webs? A compound-specific stable isotope approach (Marden fund 19-UOO-212). In collaboration with Dr Colin MacLeod, UBC, Canada.
  • Bioaccumulation of mercury in New Zealand cockles. In collaboration with Dr Arne Bratkič, VUB, Belgium.
  • Understanding the trophic shift of the endemic Kea from 1880s-2000s using amino acids stable isotopes. In collaboration with Dr Priscilla Wehi, Landcare.

Completed research projects

  • Sustainable Seas Program: Understanding the impact of human activities and environmental change on marine ecosystems by investigating the evolution of the trophic status of key species based on amino acids and fatty acids isotope techniques. PI: Prof. Steve Wing, Department of Marine Science, Otago University.
  • CARIM program: Establishment of the influence of future ocean acidification warming on organic matter cycling and food quality in coastal plankton communities, using amino acids stable isotopes. PI: Prof. Cliff Law, NIWA Wellington/Department of Marine Science, Otago University.

Current postgraduate students

  • Erica Donlon (intern – Zoology): Using stable isotopes to investigate parasite-host interactions in mud snails.
  • Paulo Lagos (PhD – Marine Science/Botany): Investigating the response of the krill Nyctiphanes australis (Euphausiacea) to stress caused by environmental change: a dynamic energy budget approach
  • Leo Durante (PhD – Marine Science): Trophic structure through the history of exploitation in New Zealand fish communities.
  • Tara Lee (MSc – Chemistry): Tracing cocoa beans' origin using fatty acid stable isotopes


Stewart, C., Harper, B., Couper, J., Bury, S. J., & Sabadel, A. (2023). Can non-native perch (Perca fluviatilis) support native eel populations in a wetland complex? Ecology of Freshwater Fish, 12749. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1111/eff.12749

Guerra, M., Sabadel, A., Rayment, W., Dawson, S., & Wing, L. (2023). Seasonal variation in the use of food resources by sperm whales in a submarine canyon. Deep Sea Research Part I, 200, 104149. doi: 10.1016/j.dsr.2023.104149

Elvines, D. M., MacLeod, C. K., Ross, D. J., Sabadel, A. J. M., Bury, S. J., Brown, J. C. S., & White, C. A. (2023). Composition of Chinook salmon faecal wastes with implications for environmental management. Aquaculture, 569, 739358. doi: 10.1016/j.aquaculture.2023.739358

Wehi, P. M., Rogers, K. M., Jowett, T., & Sabadel, A. J. M. (2023). Interpreting past trophic ecology of a threatened alpine parrot, kea Nestor notabilis, from museum specimens. Journal of Animal Ecology, 92, 273-284. doi: 10.1111/1365-2656.13742

Sabadel, A. (2022, November). Unravelling the trophic interaction between a parasitic barnacle (Anelasma squalicola) and its host Southern lanternshark (Etmopterus granulosus) using stable isotopes. Verbal presentation at the New Zealand Marine Sciences (NZMSS) & New Zealand Freshwater Sciences Societies (NZFSS) Joint Conference: Waitī Waitā, Auckland, New Zealand.

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