Chloe P Cargill

Chloe is an early-career researcher and ornithologist primarily concerned with the conservation of coastal and pelagic taxa. Chloe holds an Honours degree in Conservation Biology and Ecology (University of Exeter), which she recently supplemented with a Masters degree in Marine Ecosystem Management (University of St Andrews).

Towards enhanced black-legged kittiwake metapopulation modelling in the context of global change and renewable energy development

PhD summary: A comprehensive understanding of population connectivity in marine species is required for sustainable, ecosystem-based marine spatial planning. The black-legged kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla) is a conservation priority seabird of international importance.

Historic analyses demonstrate that kittiwakes emigrate over short and long distances, yet there remains a lack of knowledge of their dispersal and colony source-sink dynamics at differing temporal and spatial scales. This is currently contributing to high uncertainty in Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) and Habitats Regulations Appraisals (HRAs) underpinning the planning and licensing of offshore wind developments in the North Sea.

The overarching goal of this research is to identify, and thus facilitate the protection of, local populations with disproportionate contribution to the establishment and maintenance of UK and North Sea kittiwake colonies. Furthermore, we aim to facilitate appropriate high level management decisions towards protecting colonies likely to interact with future offshore wind developments. The outcomes of this research will have a direct impact on policy laying the foundations for the UK to become a world leader in green energy production. This project is a research collaboration between the University of Aberdeen, the University of the Highlands and Islands, Joint Nature Conservation Committee and Marine Scotland Science.

PhD objectives:
The objectives of this project are, a) to quantify genetic connectivity locally amongst UK colonies and North Sea-wide, in particular those located within Special Protected Areas and Special Areas of Conservation, b) to characterize connectivity between onshore and offshore colonies, and c) to use this information to improve EIAs and HRAs for offshore wind development by reducing uncertainty in metapopulation modelling. We will achieve this by integrating demographic, genetic, and environmental data using hierarchical and spatially explicit Bayesian modelling approaches.

Contact details:
Academic profile:
ResearchGate profile:

Funding awards:
January 2022 – Marine Alliance For Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS) and Scottish Funding Council (SFC) Saltire Emerging Researcher Scheme European Exchange.
A pilot study towards understanding the connectivity of United Kingdom and Norwegian black-legged kittiwake populations across the North Sea.
This project comprises a research collaboration between the University of Aberdeen and the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA). Fieldwork will include the collection of genetic samples from several locations along the west and north-west Norwegian coastline expected to be relevant to colonies in the United Kingdom. A key aim is also to facilitate the integration of existing long-term Norwegian datasets (i.e., of mark-recapture data) with their UK counterparts. Research findings will be disseminated within multi-author publications, and via the development of conservation-themed teaching resources.