Sonia Sánchez

PhD Candidate 

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Co-supervised by Dr Andre Chiaradia, Phillip Island Nature Parks

Understanding the prey-predator relationship and how changes in the ecosystem can affect this interaction is a must for the design of ecosystem-level conservation plans. Ecosystem models are widely used as a tool for resource management and are built under the frame of the interactions between prey and predators. Sonia’s PhD focuses on finding the feeding hotspots of an iconic endemic Australian top-predator, the little penguin (Eudyptula minor) in the Bass Strait.

We will use this information to refine an ecosystem model for the western Bass Strait with a new penguin-derived index of prey abundance which will make the model more sensitive and predictive of change. Our approach will help to identify marine protected zones for conservation of little penguins and can be applied in other marine systems where a strong need exists for conservation of non-commercially harvested marine species without expensive at-sea research.