MAPRU postdoc Chris Oosthuizen was awarded a prestigious CCAMLR Scientific Scholarship (2021–2022) to develop monitoring indices that can quantify functional responses of penguins to changes in their prey field. This work is a precursor to developing new monitoring parameters using marine predators such as penguins to improve ecosystem-based feedback management of fisheries.

The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) is responsible for the conservation of living marine resources in the Southern Ocean. Its programs of research, monitoring and the application of conservation measures aim to ensure sustainable resource use in the Antarctic. This scholarship will allow Dr Oosthuizen to participate in the work of the CCAMLR Scientific Committee and its working groups. It is supported by a project team from Nelson Mandela University (Prof Pierre Pistorius), the Norwegian Polar Institute (Dr Andrew Lowther) and the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (Drs Lisolomzi Fikizolo and Azwianewi Makhado).


An international collaboration involving MAPRU's Prof. Pierre Pistorius has produced an ecosystem assessment of the Southern Ocean, with a particular focus on seabirds and marine mammals - the Southern Ocean top predators. This paper packs a wealth of information on what is known about these top predators, the current and emerging pressures they face and future prospects. For the full article, click here.

The abundance and population trends of Indo-pacific bottlenose dolphins in South African waters are poorly understood. This study contributed new abundance information which can assist conservation management. The researchers found a decline in dolphin abundance and group sizes in the Plettenberg bay subset of the study area, and discuss plausible hypotheses. Find the full article here.

 

"..behavioural plasticity may separate 'winners' from 'losers' in light of rapid environmental changes due to climate change."

This study used GPS tracking data to investigate the foraging behaviour of four sub-Antarctic albatross species, during a period of pronounced environmental variability. An understanding of the links between oceanography and seabird behaviour is needed to assess the resilience and responses to climate variability and change. Find the full article here.

This study, which was led by and involved several MAPRU members in collaboration with researchers from other institutes, found clear differences between colonies which are likely related to differences in habitat availability and oceanographic conditions throughout the population's range. 

This is a major advancement in our understanding of this populous and important marine top predator. Find the full article, here

A combination of GPS tracking, environmental data and stable isotope analysis were used to characterise and compare the foraging habitat and trophic ecology of two giant petrel species which are morphologically similar and have overlapping diets and distributions. For the full article, click here.

A recent study co-authored by MAPRU's Prof Pierre Pistorius, investigated the drivers of penguin diversification using genomes. To learn more about the evolutionary history of these flightless diving birds, click here

This study was also featured in a CNN article

Advances in tracking technology have helped Marine Scientists discover more about the criptic life of Marine Top Predators at sea. But, how has this helped scientists identify ecologically important areas in the ocean? To find out more, read the full article here.

The amazing finding of MAPRU's Andrea Thiebault that penguin's call underwater has featured in the Weekend Argus. 

Click here to read the article

MAPRU director Prof. Pierre Pistorius, and previous MAPRU post-doc Dr Ryan Reisinger formed part of a massive international collaboration to model Areas of Ecological Significance across the whole Southern Ocean using tracking data for 17 marine predator species.

 

 
MAPRU researcher, Dr Andrea Thiebault, has observed something quite amazing, penguins call while hunting for prey underwater.

Well done to Sibu Ngqulana and Jonathan Botha for both receiving awards from the Society of Marine Mammalogy and the European Cetacean Society for their outstanding student presentations at the 2nd World Marine Mammal Conference.

Vacancies for 2 field biologists for Marion Island 2020-2021.

MAPRU is looking for two suitably qualified South African candidates to spend a
year on sub-Antarctic Marion Island, collecting field data on seabirds to potentially be
used for academic purposes.

Click here for more information.

 

Scientific research takes a lot of hard work and dedication. We are very proud of Prof. Pierre Pistorius who won the Researcher of the Year Award at the at the Nelson Mandela University Vice-Chancellor’s Excellence Awards now for the 3rd time!

Click here to read the full article.

Sharing research findings with other researchers is necessary for the field to grow and to initate collaborations between research groups and even different countries. Prof Pierre Pistorius, Tegan Carpenter-Kling and Alistair McInnes share their research on penguins at the 10th International Penguin Conference in Dunedin, New Zealand. 

Dr Stephen Kirkman and Alejandra Vargas, in collaboration between Ocean and Coasts and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University aim to satellite tag Indo-Pacific dolphins in Plettenberg Bay.

 

The Department of Environmental Affairs together with the Nelson Mandela University have initiate a Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) program on cetaceans (i.e. whales and dolphins) in the vicinity of the Robberg Marine Protected Area. This project aims to understand acoustic characteristics of the different species of whales and dolphins in the area and to determine if their populations can be reliably monitored over time using hydrophones.

Robberg residents (Plettenberg Bay) are asked to report their sightings of whales and dolphins! SMS your sighting to 078 550 1742 and remember to include the number of individuals you see, location, date and time.

Email kuhlehlati@yahoo.com or ale@earthcollective.net for more information.

On the 2nd of August, head of the MAPRU, Prof. Pierre Pistorius gave a public talk on Marion Island seabirds and their vulnerability to climate change at SANCCOB Port Elizabeth, Cape Recife Nature Reserve as part of the National Sciece week initiative spearheaded by the Department of Science and Technology.

On the 30th of July, MAPRU honours student, Shamiso Banda, presented and led a discussion about climate change at Bayworld. Her talk was interesting and informative. She urged all levels of society, from the world's governments to us as individuals, to seriously consider the impact we are having on our world's climate as well as changes we should all make.

Later, she was interviewed by HeraldLIVE.

Read the interview here: https://www.heraldlive.co.za/news/2019-07-31-together-we-can-defeat-climate-change/

 

In June 2019, the Weekend Argus featured an article about MAPRU's research on African penguins. Within, MAPRU head, Prof Pistorius and MAPRU post-doc, Dr McInnes were interviewed about their recent paper describing how African penguins herd schools of fish to the surface which allows other seabirds, such as gannets and terns, to prey upon them.  
New article by MAPRU's post doc, Dr Alistair McInnes, used cameras placed on the back of African penguins to show how these penguins herd prey such as anchovy and sardines into shallower more accessible depths for other flying seabirds. 
A new MAPRU article, authored by both past and present MAPRU members, used 101 boat surveys including 533 hours of survey effort to study the social bonds between Indian Ocean humpback dolphins along the south coast of South Africa.

MAPRU's post-doc Dr Andréa Thiebault, has used miniaturized audio-recording devices to study the vocalizations between Cape gannets at sea.


Article published resulting from PhD exchange between MAPRU and Southampton University.

MAPRU postdoc Andréa Thiebault was officially awarded a prize for her PhD from the Oceanographic Institute, Albert I Prince of Monaco foundation, during a ceremony held on the 12th of October. Her PhD titled "Come onboard with Cape gannets: social influences in foraging strategies, observed from videos", was undertaken at the French IRD, UMR MARBEC, Université Montpellier II.

MAPRU's Dr Ryan Reisinger along with a multinational research team used data from 538 tags deployments on 14 species of marine predators breeding at the South African owned Prince Edward Islands in the sub-Antarctic to identify important habitat. The article was published in Diversity and Distributions and helps to form the basis of future efforts to predict the consequences of environmental change. 

onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ddi.12702/full

 

 

A MAPRU post-doc, Andréa Thiebault, has published a new package for the statistical computing R software. "m2b" for Movement to Behaviour, an easy way to apply complicated mathematical algorithm for scientists to predict behaviour from animal's movements.

An article published in Nature Climate Change by MAPRU head, Dr Pierre Pistorius and others, found it likely that king penguins are to become locally extinct from a number of sub-Antarctic islands, including South African owned Marion Island. Dr Pierre Pistorius was interviewed by local and national newspapers about the findings.

www.heraldlive.co.za/news/2018/04/02/king-penguins-risk-climate-change/

www.nature.com/articles/s41558-018-0084-2

In an article recently publish in Royal Society Open Science, MAPRU post-doc Alistair McInnes showed that African penguins have signifcantly more success capturing prey when hunting in groups.

See article here: https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.170918 

 

MAPRU PhD student, Jonathan Botha, publishes work on Cape Gannets in Algoa Bay in Marine Ecology Process Series. 

Using a combination stomach content data and stable isotope analysis, Dicken et al. (2017) provide information on size-based and sex-specific variations in diet, trophic position and foraging habitat of tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier) along the KwaZulu-Natal coast.

Article can be viewed here . https://doi.org/10.1371/journal. pone.0177897

Dr Lorien Pichegru of NMU's Marine Apex Predator Unit will be presenting a public talk entitled "Advancing marine science tourism" in building 35 room 0004, Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth on 1 August 2017 at 13:00. All are welcome, please RSVP by 25 July 2017 to liza.rishworth@nmmu.ac.za or (041) 504 2852

Marine Apex Predator Research Unit member, Danielle van den Heever, was recently interviewed by local news papers about her efforts to conserve the 'ghost' birds in the tropics. 

The article can be found at the following link:

http://mype.co.za/new/the-amazing-lives-of-the-island-ghost-birds/88986/2017/06

She is researching the foraging ecology of the wedge-tailed shearwater, or locally known as "ghost' birds, that breed on islands within the Indian Ocean. Her effort will ultimately help improve the conservation efforts of these birds.

A new paper by MAPRU members, Tegan Carpenter-Kling, Jonathan Handley, Ryan Reisinger, David Green and Pierre Pistorius was recently published in Marine Biology. The research formed part of Tegan's MSc thesis and it is the first to describe the foraging behaviour and gentoo penguins at Marion Island using small GPS data loggers and depth sensor. It also describes a novel foraging strategy for seabirds.

The article can be found at the following link:

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00227-016-3066-9

 

 

Jonathan Handley and Pierre Pistorius's paper in Polar Biology describes the first record of a penguin trying to steal food from another penguin underwater.

Dr Ryan Reisinger of NMMU's Marine Apex Predator Unit will be presenting a pulic talk entitled "Cold killers, and other finned and flying beasts of the far south" at Bayworld / Port Elizabeth Museum on 29 March 2016.