Research Overview

Dave Ellie

Southern elephant seal and tussock bird (Dave Thompson)

The Sea Mammal Research Unit is a world-leading academic and applied research group whose expertise and research interests span a wide range of subject areas, from population ecology, fundamental physiology, behavioural ecology, bioacoustics through to the effects of man’s activities in the oceans on marine mammals and other human impacts.

Research carried out by the Sea Mammal Research Unit falls under three general headings; Discovery, Technology and Policy

Its current strategic science priorities include:

  • Evaluating the status and dynamics of marine mammal populations
  • Investigating the importance of marine mammals as components of marine ecosystems
  • Determining the impact of man’s activities in the oceans on marine mammals
  • Studying marine mammal social structure and communication
  • Observing the oceanographic environment of marine mammals and
  • Providing the technological basis for observing free-ranging marine mammals and their environment.

This is not an exhaustive list, but provides a broad outline of how our research is of strategic importance to understanding marine ecosystems and our changing oceans, the impact of which was recognized in the 2014 REF exercise.

The University of St Andrews recognises the need for greater understanding of animal research and has therefore signed the Concordat of Openness on Animal Research in the UK.