My PhD, at the Scottish Oceans Institute (SOI), focuses on how seals respond to offshore industrial activity. In particular, marine renewable developments, such as pile driving, wind farms and tidal energy extraction, pose a significant, yet poorly understood, risk to seals: noise can cause immediate hearing damage, turbine blades cause physical injury, and prolonged operations can potentially exclude seals from their natural habitat altogether.
Using biologging data on harbour seals (Phoca vitulina), I am working to quantify the effect industrial activity has on seal movement and dive behaviour. My PhD is supervised by Gordon Hastie (SMRU), Debbie Russell (SMRU), Len Thomas (CREEM) and Carol Sparling (SMRU).
My research interests are in human-wildlife interactions, animal movement, statistical ecology and marine biology. I am particularly interested in the effects of disturbance on animal movement behaviour, and in using statistical methods to (1) further understand animal ecology in this context and (2) provide useful information for future management of human activities.
Personal website: www.katherinefwhyte.co.uk