Prof Ian Boyd:

Research Overview:

Behavioural dynamics of marine predators

The application of scale-based theoretical and statistical models to examine single- and multi-dimensional behavioural vectors of marine predators, particularly in relation to the distribution of food patches. The objective of this research is to :

- develop and test dynamic models of the way in which predator fitness varies in relation to the distribution and abundance of food and of how this ultimately influences the evolution of life-histories and the viability of predators in different environments;

- characterise the functional relationship (in terms of fitness) of animals to environmental variability and thereby to develop a predictive framework for population trajectories under different environmental conditions;

- examine the impact of marine predators on their food supply.

Recently, this research interest has focused upon the behavioural responses of highly cryptic marine mammals to sound sources, including anti-submarine sonars. This research has also involved extensive studies of bioenergetics and behaviour including the use of remote tracking and recording technology, often using high capacity data streams. The results from these studies are providing the foundation for the development of algorithms to calculate the direction and dynamics of energy flux through predators populations and for solving problems in behavioural optimisation in particular circumstances.


Management of marine ecosystems

Development of ecosystem-based management procedures for the sustainable exploitation of marine resources. This interest lies at the interface between ecology, systems modelling and economics and applies risk-based modelling to decision-making in the context of environmental exploitation.

-use predators at the top of marine food chains as models of sustainable exploitation in marine ecosystems;

-through the use of signals from top food chain predators, to examine the underlying natural levels of variability from large-scale physical forcing of the ecosystem and to develop an appreciation of their role in marine resource management;

- to develop the conceptual and strategic models underlying ecosystem-based management


Ecological economics

This aims to bridge to gap between economics and ecology. Traditionally, ecological economics has stressed the importance of natural resources for commerce and conservation. In fact it covers the whole range of subjects from bioenergetics through to resource exploitation by commercial interests. The objectives are to:

- apply theory developed within economics to understanding the criteria used by animals when making investment decisions and also the evolutionary implications of those decisions.

- providing a better understanding of how we should place a value on natural resources (such as unexploited wildlife populations) which have no marketable value.


Recent publications listed in research@st-andrews
Tyack, PL, Frisk, G, Boyd, I, Urban, E & Seeyave, S (eds) 2015, International Quiet Ocean Experiment science plan. Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research / Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans.
Stephens, PA, Houston, AI, Harding, KC, Boyd, IL & McNamara, JM 2014, 'Capital and income breeding: the role of food supply' Ecology, vol 95, no. 4, pp. 882-896. DOI: 10.1890/13-1434.1