The utilisation of a sensory ecology approach to understand and address the problem of bird bycatch in fishing nets

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Jenny Cantlay

E-mail Address:

Start Year

2017 (Cohort 4)

Research interests:
Hobbies and interests:
PhD Project
PhD Title

The utilisation of a sensory ecology approach to understand and address the problem of bird bycatch in fishing nets

Research Theme

Biodiversity and Ecology

Primary Supervisor
Primary Institution


Secondary Supervisor
Secondary Institution


CASE Partner

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)

CASE Supervisor

Rory Crawford


My doctoral research focuses on avian sensory ecology and its application to conservation science. More specifically, I am combining avian visual and behavioural ecology to examine the problem of waterbirds’ fatal interactions with man-made hazards, e.g. gill nets and wind turbines, in underwater and aerial environments.

This project will increase understanding about the visual abilities of waterbirds, and species’ behavioural responses to novel visual stimuli. I am measuring the visual fields of a wide range of waterbird species with varied foraging behaviour to provide an interspecific comparative evaluation of their visual field characteristics. This will help me to determine how their visual fields may influence their susceptibility to fishing net entrapment and collisions. I have also conducted an experiment in an aquatic environment to assess the behaviour of sea ducks to LED lights, a proposed mitigation measure for bycatch reduction.

The aim of this project is to utilise a sensory ecology approach to examine avian hazard susceptibility and inform the development of technological solutions to reduce bird mortalities.

Policy Impact

This work will aim to influence how gillnets are designed and used, to reduce the number of waterbirds that drowned as by-catch.

Background Reading
  • Martin, G. R., Portugal, S. J. & Murn, C. P. (2012) Visual fields, foraging and collision vulnerability in Gyps vultures. Ibis. 154: 626-631.
  • Martin, G.R. & Crawford, R. (2015) Reducing bycatch in gillnets: a sensory ecology perspective. Global Ecology & Conservation. 3: 28-50.
  • Collaborators

    Graham Martin (School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham)


    Accompanying data for the study “Ineffectiveness of light emitting diodes as underwater deterrents for Long-tailed Ducks Clangula hyemalis” Data files. Contributors: Jennifer Cantlay, Steve Portugal, Alicia M. Wells-Berlin, Alexander L Bond

    Social Links
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