Dr Matt Carter
My research interests focus on the behaviour and habitat use of marine vertebrates at sea. Using biologging technologies to track marine predators, I investigate the factors that affect their movement strategies and how they interact with their environment. I am particularly interested in how anthropogenic features, such as offshore energy structures, can influence animal behaviour and distribution patterns. I am also interested in how behavioural strategies develop in juvenile animals, and different statistical modelling techniques for inferring behaviour from biologging data.
Hannah Wyles: Examining the potential impacts of climate change on grey and harbour seals in the UK.
Maria Clara Iruzun Martins: Examining the human-predator interface of the North Sea: interactions between man-made subsea structures, marine predators and commercial fisheries.
I am currently working on a project under the INSITE programme (INfluence of man-made Structures In The Ecosystem), funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and in collaboration with the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas). My work on the EcoSTAR (Ecosystem-level importance of STructures as Artifical Reefs) project will investigate how man-made structures in the marine environment influence the distribution and behaviour of marine predators. This project will use a combination of satellite telemetry and survey data with advanced modelling techniques to understand to what extent oil and gas infrastructure and marine renewable energy developments function as artifical reefs. This work will provide key information to decision makers and advisory bodies to help inform environmentally sensitive marine spatial planning and decommissioning strategies.
In previous work at SMRU, funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), I used regional habitat preference models to understand the environmental drivers of at-sea distribution for grey and harbour seals in the UK and Ireland. This project produced distribution maps based on habitat preference for the entire populations of both species in the UK and Ireland.
In my PhD at the University of Plymouth (in collaboration with SMRU), I investigated how grey seal pups develop foraging behaviour and habitat preference. Using tracking and dive data from pups tagged at colonies in Scotland and Wales, I examined how diving behaviour and movement strategies develop over the first four months of nutritional independence; a time when pups are at increased risk of starvation.
In my MSc thesis at the University of Exeter (Cornwall Campus), I investigated the at-sea behaviour and habitat use of northern gannets at a large breeding colony in Wales. My research showed that both male and female breeding birds raft on the water surface adjacent to the colony before and after foraging trips. These findings have relevance for conservation, supporting a proposed seaward extension to the Special Protection Area (SPA), designed to protect important marine habitat for breeding gannets.
My research interests focus on the behaviour and habitat use of marine vertebrates at sea. Using biologging technologies to track marine predators, I investigate the factors that affect their movement strategies and how they interact with their environment. I am particularly interested in how behavioural strategies develop in juvenile animals, and how we can quantify these behaviours from animal movement data using emerging statistical modelling techniques. My current project aims to investigate the ecosystem-level signficance of anthropogenic structures as artificial reefs in the North Sea, using predators as indicator species.
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