Since 1989, we have led a collaborative research programme on the ecology of the population of around 200 bottlenose dolphins that occur along the east coast of Scotland.

Photo-ID survey on RonaThis work is based upon repeat observations of individually recognisable dolphins, providing data for a range of studies on abundance, social structure and epidemiology. These studies have been complemented by land-based and acoustic studies centred around the tidal narrows within the inner Moray Firth.

A key aim of our work is to support conservation programmes for this and other coastal dolphin populations. The Moray Firth Special Area of Conservation has been designated to protect bottlenose dolphins under the EU Habitats Directive, and the University of Aberdeen is contracted by Scottish Natural Heritage to make regular status assessments as part of the UK's Natura 2000 monitoring programme.

Example studies

Bailey, H. & Thompson, P.M. (2006) Quantitative analysis of bottlenose dolphin movement patterns and their relationship with foraging. Journal of Animal Ecology, 75: 456-465.

Wilson, B., Reid, R.J., Grellier, K., Thompson, P.M. & Hammond, P.S. (2004) Considering the temporal when managing the spatial: a population range expansion impacts protected areas based management for bottlenose dolphins. Animal Conservation, 7: 331-338.