Prof Sarah Wanless

Professor Sarah Wanless, FRSE

Seabird Ecologist

Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
Bush Estate
EH26 0QB
T: +44 (0)131 4454343
F: +44 (0)131 4453943
E-mail: Professor Sarah Wanless

Research interests

My research is largely focused on the long-term studies of demography, behaviour and diet of seabirds breeding at the colony on the Isle of May at the entrance to the Firth of Forth.

Current interests include improving our understanding of the effects of climate change and fisheries management on North Sea seabird populations and the wider marine community. This is a challenging, complex issue that requires an inter-disciplinary approach and collaboration with researchers with specialist expertise in climatology, oceanography, atmospheric physics, plankton and marine mammal biology and fisheries management. A good example of this joined up approach was a recent European Union Framework 5 project investigating the interactions between seabirds, their prey and oceanographic conditions in the North Sea from the mid 1990s up to the present (IMPRESS). The fate of North Sea seabirds depends critically on their main prey, the lesser sandeel, which is also the target of a major human fishery. I have a particular interest in using seabirds as bio-indicators of sandeel abundance and condition. This work has recently highlighted a population explosion of a previously rare species, the snake pipefish. This fish is becoming increasingly common in the diet of a wide range of seabirds at colonies around the UK but represents a very poor alternative to sandeels, being low in nutrients and extremely difficult for chicks to swallow.

Other current collaborative projects include: investigating effects of ammonia emissions from seabird colonies, mechanisms for maintaining pathogen diversity in seabird populations, interactions between breeding seabirds and invasive plants, ageing and senescence, phenological responses to a changing conditions.



Recent publications

See also the NERC Open Research Archive.

Hamer, K.C.; Humphreys, E.M.; Magalhaes, M.C.; Garthe, S.; Hennicke, J.; Peters, G.; Gremillet, D.; Skov, H.; Wanless, S.. 2009 Fine-scale foraging behaviour of a medium-ranging marine predator. Journal of Animal Ecology, 78 (4). 880-889. 10.1111/j.1365-2656.2009.01549.x

Sakamoto, Kentaro Q.; Sato, Katsufumi; Ishizuka, Mayumi; Watanuki, Yutaka; Takahashi, Akinori; Daunt, Francis; Wanless, Sarah. 2009 Can ethograms be automatically generated using body acceleration data from free-ranging birds? PLoS One, 4 (4), e5379. 10.1371/journal.pone.0005379

Wanless, Sarah; Frederiksen, Morten; Walton, John; Harris, Mike P.. 2009 Long-term changes in breeding phenology at two seabird colonies in the western North Sea. Ibis, 151 (2). 274-285. 10.1111/j.1474-919X.2008.00906.x

Reed, Thomas E.; Warzybok, Pete; Wilson, Alistair J.; Bradley, Russell W.; Wanless, Sarah; Sydeman, William J.. 2009 Timing is everything: flexible phenology and shifting selection in a colonial seabird. Journal of Animal Ecology, 78 (2). 376-387. 10.1111/j.1365-2656.2008.01503.x

Thaxter, Chris B.; Daunt, Francis; Hamer, Keith C.; Watanuki, Yutaka; Harris, Mike P.; Gremillet, David; Peters, Gerrit; Wanless, Sarah. 2009 Sex-specific food provisioning in a monomorphic seabird, the common guillemot Uria aalge: nest defence, foraging efficiency or foraging effort? Journal of Avian Biology, 40 (1). 75-84. 10.1111/j.1600-048X.2008.04507.x

Suryan, Robert M.; Saba, Vincent S.; Wallace, Bryan P.; Hatch, Scott A.; Frederiksen, Morten; Wanless, Sarah. 2009 Environmental forcing on life history strategies: evidence for multi-trophic level responses at ocean basin scales. Progress in Oceanography, 81 (1-4). 214-222. 10.1016/j.pocean.2009.04.012

Ropert-Coudert, Yan; Daunt, Francis; Kato, Akiko; Ryan, Peter G.; Lewis, Sue; Kobayashi, Kaori; Mori, Yoshihisa; Gremillet, David; Wanless, Sarah. 2009 Underwater wingbeats extend depth and duration of plunge dives in northern gannets Morus bassanus. Journal of Avian Biology, 40 (4). 380-387. 10.1111/j.1600-048X.2008.04592.x

Grandgeorge, Marine; Wanless, Sarah; Dunn, Timothy E.; Maumy, Myriam; Beaugrand, Gregory; Gremillet, David. 2008 Resilience of the British and Irish seabird community in the twentieth century. Aquatic Biology, 4 (2). 187-199. 10.3354/ab00095

Wanless, Sarah; Harris, Michael P.; Lewis, Sue; Frederiksen, Morten; Murray, Stuart. 2008 Later breeding in northern gannets in the eastern Atlantic. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 370. 263-269. 10.3354/meps07712

Frederiksen, M.; Daunt, F.; Harris, M. P.; Wanless, S.. 2008 The demographic impact of extreme events: stochastic weather drives survival and population dynamics in a long-lived seabird. Journal of Animal Ecology, 77 (5). 1020-1029. 10.1111/j.1365-2656.2008.01422.x

Reed, T. E.; Daunt, F.; Hall, M. E; Phillips, R. A.; Wanless, S.; Cunningham, E.J. A.. 2008 Parasite treatment affects maternal investment in sons. Science, 321 (5896). 1681-1682. 10.1126/science.1159466

Skov, Henrik; Humphreys, Elizabeth; Garthe, Stefan; Geitner, Kerstin; Gremillet, David; Hamer, Keith C; Hennicke, Janos; Parner, Hjalte; Wanless, Sarah. 2008 Application of habitat suitability modelling to tracking data of marine animals as a means of analyszing their feeding habitats. Ecological Modelling, 212. 504-512. 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2007.11.006