New smart-tag technology grant awarded to measure ocean predator physiology and distributions.

A marine scientist at the Marine Biological Association of the UK (MBA) Laboratory in Plymouth, UK, has been awarded a prestigious European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant to fund cutting edge research that addresses climate change impacts on threatened ocean predators. 

The ERC Advanced awards are funded through the EU and are worth up to €2.5M, enabling established top researchers to explore their most creative, high-risk ideas, and leading to the creation of jobs including scientific and technical support positions. 

The grant has been awarded to Professor David Sims, a Senior Research Fellow at the MBA and professor at the University of Southampton, with the aim to understand how large, active predators such as sharks and tuna will be affected by climate-driven losses in ocean oxygen that are projected to result in expanding ‘dead zones’ in some regions. 

Figure 1. Open-ocean predators such as the blue shark (Prionace glauca) will be affected by expanding 'dead zones' in the ocean. Image © Keith Hiscock.

Prof Sims said: “The award of this major grant is thrilling – it will enable new smart-tag technology to be developed for measuring predator physiology and behaviours in unprecedented detail, which will allow more accurate predictions about how shark and tuna distributions will shift in the face of climate change to aid conservation”.

The MBA Director, Professor Willie Wilson added: “We are very proud of this thoroughly deserved grant to Professor Sims whose world-class shark research programme contributes to our global aspirations. His achievement is extraordinary since the MBA now holds three ERC grants which all help epitomise our standing as the voice of marine biology through research excellence.”

President of the ERC, Professor Mauro Ferrari, said: “I am glad to announce a new round of ERC grants that will back cutting-edge, exploratory research, set to help Europe and the world to be better equipped for what the future may hold. That’s the role of blue sky research. These senior research stars will cut new ground in a broad range of fields, including the area of health. I wish them all the best in this endeavour and, at this time of crisis, let me pay tribute to the heroic and invaluable work of the scientific community as a whole.” 

Figure 2. Awardee of the grant Prof David Sims leads the Movement Ecology research group at the Marine Biological Association, and is Professor of Marine Ecology, University of Southampton. Image © David Sims.

The ERC Advanced Grant to Prof Sims is for a project entitled: “OCEAN DEOXYFISH – Ocean deoxygenation effects on threatened top predators: New understanding and predictions from novel bio-logging instruments and data”.

Prof David Sims profiles: 

https://www.mba.ac.uk/fellows/sims-lab 

https://www.globalsharkmovement.org/people/ 

https://www.southampton.ac.uk/oes/about/staff/dws1r11.page

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May 13, 2020 By guba