Sims Lab

The movement of organisms is a fundamental feature of life that is central to almost all ecological and evolutionary processes. It affects survival and reproductive success, and influences the structuring of populations, communities and ecosystems. However, we lack a basic understanding of the mechanisms underlying when, how and why organisms move and disperse in natural habitats.

The research of the Sims Lab is focused on the ecology of animal movement and the underlying behavioural mechanisms. Our research addresses three broad questions: How do organisms move and disperse? Why do they move in those patterns? What determines distributions?

By studying the behavioural strategies of free-ranging marine fish for example during searching and foraging we address general questions in ecology: How do animals structure movement? Are there predictable ‘rules’? Do movement patterns change across scales? What processes underlie the observed patterns? How are spatial re-distributions altered by environmental changes?

In addition to providing fundamental insights into the behavioural ecology of wild animals our research contributes to strategic objectives, for example in fish species conservation and the effects of climate change and fishing on marine populations.

Our main approach is to track individual marine predators using advanced telemetry (biologging) techniques, such as satellite-linked archival tags and radio-linked acoustic positioning systems. We integrate this spatial movement data with environmental fields (e.g. in situ sampling, remote sensing) and with statistical analysis and computer simulations we test behavioural models to explore animal motivations.

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All images are copyrighted © to David Sims, the MBA and Jeremy Stafford-Deitsch.