CIE Seminar Series 2017 – Penguins, their poo and what they can tell us about their changing environment

SPEAKER: Ms Catherine Cavallo, PhD Candidature, Monash University

DATE: Friday, 19th May 2017
LOCATION: Warrnambool Campus, Room B3.03
TIME: 1:30pm
Seminar will also be video linked to the following campuses: Melbourne Campus at Burwood – Burwood Corporate Centre (attendees-please report to reception for room details on the day) and; Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds – room ka4.207

External visitors – wish to join us and connect to our seminars?

  • You may connect to the live seminar via *N SEBE VMP LES Seminars [ID.36958] or via the methods listed HERE.
  • For Deakin staff and students, please join via Skype for Business (Lync).
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As a courtesy, we request that when connecting to the seminar that you mute your microphone unless you are required to speak, this would ensure that the sound from the speaker to the audience is not disrupted by feedback from your microphone – thank you!

ABSTRACT: Predator diet is used to explore food web dynamics and ecosystem function, but few diet analysis tools reveal full diet. New developments in DNA dietary analysis allow accurate interpretation of large quantities of predator scats quickly and cheaply. Metabarcoding, facilitated by Next Generation Sequencing, can identify most prey DNA at species level within a scat sample, including prey that are overlooked by other methods.

I pair DNA analysis of scats with passive automated monitoring technology, allowing non-invasive, fine-scale and continuous monitoring of the diet and foraging behaviour of a marine top predator, the little penguin. Diet diversity varies with environmental characteristics, site and month, and includes previously unrecorded gelatinous taxa.

This non-invasive, high resolution and high coverage method provides valuable food web information and is being used to develop quantitative tools to track changes in marine food webs and ecosystems.

BIO: Cathy Cavallo is a PhD student at Monash University, where she is supervised by Richard Reina. Her PhD research is in partnership with Phillip Island Nature Parks, where she is supervised by Andre Chiaradia, and the Australian Antarctic Division, where she works under Bruce Deagle.

This research is being undertaken as part of an ARC Linkage grant to develop a novel top-down approach to ecosystem management using multivariate foraging strategies of little penguins, with collaborators at Deakin Warrnambool and the National Centre for Research in France.

Prior to her PhD, Cathy completed a Master of Science at the University of Melbourne, published her MSc research in Functional Ecology, and worked for 5 years with an ecological consultancy. In addition to her current research, Cathy volunteers as the Social Media Manager of Wild Melbourne, a not for profit nature engagement and science communication NGO.

Appointments with guest speaker may be made via Graeme Hays.