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Sarah Dwyer

Doctor of Philosophy, (Marine Ecology)
Study Completed: 2015
College of Sciences


Thesis Title
Spatial Ecology and Conservation of Cetaceans using the Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand

Read article at Massey Research Online: MRO icon

Understanding species'' distribution and habitat use, and how they change in space and time, is vital for effective conservation management. The Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand, is a highly productive marine ecosystem that is important for marine megafauna. Ms Dwyer''sresearch investigated the spatial and temporal distribution and habitat use of three cetacean species of the Hauraki Gulf, with a goal of informing conservation management. Boat-based surveys were conducted over three years, covering more than 20,000 kilometres of search effort. Species distribution modelling provided an understanding of the likely spatial use of the Hauraki Gulf by cetaceans and how that likelihood changes seasonally. Her research demonstrated for the first time that occupancy models can be successfully applied to cetacean sighting data to assess habitat use while simultaneously accounting for imperfect detection. Additionally, a previously unknown hotspot for bottlenose dolphins was identified at Great Barrier Island.

Professor Karen Stockin
Dr Deanna Clement
Dr Mat Pawley