This is a blog about my research. May I introduce you to the Little Penguin (Eudyptula minor)? It is also known as the blue penguin or fairy penguin. Little Penguins are native Australian sea birds whose populations are in decline and under threat at several locations around Australia including Sydney (which is where my Uni, The University of New South Wales, is situated). The main threats to Little Penguins are related to human impacts such as the introduction of feral predators, invasive weeds, habitat destruction and the effects of climate change. This means that we have a responsibility to investigate which of these threats the penguins are most susceptible to and how we can ameliorate their situation.
Now that you’ve met my research subject, I can tell you a bit about myself. My name is Sandra. After I graduated in Biology at the IFM-GEOMAR in Kiel (Germany) last year, I looked for a PhD research topic that involved all steps of scientific work, from coming up with a question via sample and data collection to the analysis of data and publication. My search was quickly successful, although the first step had already been done for me – which leaves me with a lot of field work, lab work and lots of analyses and modelling to be done.
In the coming months, I will visit several offshore islands along the coast of New South Wales to get genetic samples from the penguins. I will then use the DNA samples for genetic analysis to assess dispersal and connectivity between the colonies. This information is vital to conduct a population viability analysis, which tells us how stable the populations are and will help evaluate impacts of different threats and management strategies. Follow me of you would like to read more about my work!