Jonathan Handley

PhD Student

Jon​athan completed his BSc in Zoology at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa. Staying at Rhodes, he completed his honours year working on the endangered African penguin (Supervisors: Prof Christopher McQuaid, Rhodes, Dr Lorien Pichegru, Percy Fitzpatrick Institute University of Cape Town).

For his PhD thesis, which builds on his MSc thesis, Jonathan is investigating the foraging ecology of Gentoo penguins Pygoscelis papua and their relation to environmental variables at the Falkland Islands. This is a collaborative project amongst Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), Falklands Conservation and the South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute (SAERI). It is being supervised by Dr Pierre Pistorius (NMMU) and Dr Paul Brickle (SAERI).  Ecologists look to answer how animals relate to both their biotic and abiotic environment. In order to achieve this, there are now many tools at their disposal. In his project, Jonathan will address distribution through the use of Global Positioning System Loggers (GPS) and Time Depth Recorders (TDR’s), energetics with accelerometers, behaviour with animal-borne camera loggers fitted to the backs of Gentoo penguins and diet through the use of two dietary investigative techniques.

This project is supported by the John Cheeck Trust, Ruffords Small Grants Foundation and Falkland Islands Environmental Planning Department, as well as the scarce skills scholarship from the National Research Foundation and Post Graduate Research Scholarship from NMMU, South Africa. Generous access to field sites was granted by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Johnsons Harbour farm and North Arm farm. The project will be further supported by Dr Norman Ratcliffe of the British Antarctic Survey, Dr Maelle Connan and Dr Andrea Thiebault of NMMU, and the Falkland Islands Fisheries Department. The project will also be contributing to a species management plan for Gentoo penguins at the Falklands Islands. Not only will the technology used in this project lead to a significant increase in the understanding of Gentoo penguin foraging ecology, but it is also hoped that the medium of video will help promote awareness of this species, other marine species and the importance and fun of research in society today.