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Dr Agata Staniewicz

Dr Agata Staniewicz

Dr Agata Staniewicz
PhD, MSc, BSc

Honorary Research Associate

Area of research

Investigating adult acoustic communication and the use of acoustic tracking methods for population assessment of endangered forest-dwelling crocodilians.

Life Sciences Building,
24 Tyndall Avenue, Bristol BS8 1TQ
(See a map)

Summary

Biography

2015-present: PhD candidate, University of Bristol

2014: Volunteer field research assistant, ZSL Tsaobis Baboon Project, Namibia

Collected behavioural data on sexual conflict in chacma baboons inhabiting arid highlands in central Namibia.

2010-2013: MSc (Res) Biological Sciences, University of Bristol

Ecology of juvenile crocodilians (Tomistoma schlegelii and Crocodylus siamensis) in Mesangat Lake, East Kalimantan, Indonesia.

2009-2010: Research intern, Yayasan Ulin (Ironwood Foundation), East Kalimantan, Indonesia

Assisted PT. Cipta Davia Mandiri (oil palm company) in identifying and locating rare, threatened or endangered species within its boundaries, as required for Certification under the Roundable for Sustainable Oil Palm. Designed and conducted crocodile surveys.

2006-2009: BSc Zoology, University of Bristol

Activities / Findings

As apex predators crocodilians play a key role in wetland ecosystem regulation, yet habitat loss, hunting and increased fishing activities have led to decline in their numbers, with 11 out of 23 exant species now in danger of extinction. Successful management of the remaining populations can be critical to the species survival in the wild. Crocodilians that have experienced heavy hunting pressure in the past are often difficult to detect. In such populations only hatchlings and juveniles can be spotted using traditional survey methods, and due to high mortality rate are unlikely to give reliable estimates of breeding population density. African slender-snouted crocodiles (Mecistops cataphractus), dwarf crocodiles (Osteolaemus tetraspis) and Sunda gharials (Tomistoma schlegelii) inhabit swamp forests and dense wetlands in West Africa and South-East Asia and are classified as ‘Critically Endangered’ and ‘Vulnerable’ on the Red List of Endangered Species. The animals’ shyness combined with often remote, densely vegetated habitat result in little information available on their wild population size, density, ecology and behaviour.

In my PhD project use acoustic recorders to characterise the mating calls, breeding ethology and social hierarchy of adult crocodilians. Furthermore, I will assess the use of acoustic tracking systems as effective tools for determining their wild breeding population density. Such methods have not been used on crocodilians before but if effective could allow for rapid, non-invasive assessment in the field and aid management of wetlands threatened with logging and oil palm expansion.

Teaching

2016/17: Helped supervise two final year undergraduate research projects

2011-2013, 2015-present: Demonstrator for undergraduate practical classes

 

Keywords

  • bioacoustics
  • animal behaviour
  • crocodiles

Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

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