Dr Thomas Bodey

Dr Thomas Bodey
Dr Thomas Bodey

Dr Thomas Bodey

Research Fellow



Research Fellow, University of Aberdeen (2020-present)

Marie Sklodowska-Curie Global Research Fellow, University of Auckland/University of Exeter (2017-2020)

Senior Research Fellow, University of Exeter (2014-2017)

Research Fellow, University of Exeter (2010-2014)

Conservation Scientist, RSPB (2009-2010)

PhD, Queen's University Belfast (2009)

Various Conservation Biologist Roles: Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, BTO, USGS, WildCRU (1998-2005)

BSc, University of Manchester (1998)


Research Overview

I am ecologist with a particular interest in the fields of behaviour and conservation. Much of my work is field-based, and centres around topics such as: how anthropogenic changes impact on movement, foraging and population dynamics; the causes and consequences of individual specialisation; the impacts of invasive species; and the conservation of a range of avian species.

I have a long-standing interest in island ecology, where study can address a wide variety of broad ecological and applied questions in both terrestrial and marine environments. These include the effects of human-mediated disruption through both the introduction of invasive organisms and subsequent attempts to control such species; restoration of endangered species through to entire ecosystems; the consequences of individual variation; and the role of birds as ecosystem drivers. I am fortunate enough to study these questions in a range of vertebrate systems.


Invasive Species

Invasive Rodents

Ship Rat Rattus rattus

Invasive alien species (IAS) are a significant contributer to ecosystem change, and their impacts are increasing globally. The majority of current control efforts view the responses of IAS at population or even the species level. I conduct research investigating the importance of individual variation in invasive rats Rattus sp. across a network of New Zealand and Polynesian islands that differ in their ecosystem dynamics. This work aims to determine the extent, covariance and persistence of individual variation across multiple traits to address fundamental ecological questions around the processes of competition and predation. It will also provide answers for applied conservation management actions, including feeding into progress towards PredatorFreeNZ www.predatorfreenz.org , and provide tools to address this global problem.

Invasive species cause colossal ecological impacts, but they also represent a huge burden on the world's economies. I am a member of a global collaboration examining these economic impacts through the InvaCost project


Individual variation in behavioural interactions

Reef Sharks

Grey Reef Shark Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos

Examining how interactions between individuals shape behavioural responses provides an opportunity to investigate underlying mechanisms behind much broader phenomena. Combining individual-based modelling approaches and long-term tracking data on individual movements and behaviour, I collaborate on studies of black-tip and grey reef sharks at Palmyra Atoll, USA. We have investigated how behavioural interactions at the individual level can lead to profound social and ecological consequences that impact on population and community dynamics, resulting in spatial separation across habitats while promoting stable associations among individuals.


Causes and consequences of individual specialisation

Northern Gannet

Northern Gannet Morus bassanus

Variation at the individual rather than the population level is increasingly seen as having important implications for species’ ecology, evolution and conservation. I have investigated the extent of intra- and inter-individual specialisation in foraging decisions in gannets using stable isotope analysis and fine-scale activity data collected from individuals across a range of intraspecific densities. In tandem with individual-based modelling approaches, this work has focused on the causes and consequences of specialisation, and how both intrinsic and extrinsic factors – for example body condition, intraspecific competition and fisheries discards – affect the presence and persistence of specialisations.


Land management for biodiversity

Northen Lapwing

Northen Lapwing Vanellus vanellus

Many landscapes and ecosystems have been drastically modified by human actions. Anthropogenic systems such as farmland still support a wide variety of wildlife, but also typically support an increased number of generalist predators that are well adapted to these habitats. I work on issues facing ground-nesting birds in human-modified landscapes, with a particular focus on the Northern Lapwing as a model species. This has included assessing the importance of crop types for breeding success, identifying key threats, and the potential to apply alternative management practices to mitigate predator-prey interactions.  


Physiological trade-offs and carry-over effects

Light-bellied Brent Goose

Light-bellied Brent Goose Branta bernicla hrot

Many components interact across the life cycles of organisms, and so their effects on individual fitness may carry over between stages, and can accumulate over time. I have investigated how the individual physiology and behavioural specialisations of these geese combine with both their broader social interactions, and the varying physical environments – from highly modified parkland and farmland to Arctic tundra – they experience during their long-distance migrations. Each individual has to make multiple trade-offs between these competing influences, and the causes and consequences of this variation offer insights into the impacts of individual specialisation and anthropogenic change on the ecology and evolution of migratory behaviour. This work would not be possible without the long-term commitment of a variety of volunteers and organisations who combine to form the Irish Brent Goose Research Group www.irishbrentgoose.com



Prof Stuart Bearhop, CEC, University of Exeter

Prof Jon Blount, CEC, University of Exeter

Zach Carter, University of Auckland

Dr Ian Cleasby, RSPB

Dr Patrick Garvey, Manaaki Whenua-Landcare Research

Dr James Grecian, University of St Andrews

Prof Keith Hamer, University of Leeds

Sarah Havery, RSPB

Dr Mark Jessopp, University College Cork

Dr Becky Laidlaw, University of East Anglia

Prof Xavier Lambin, University of Aberdeen

Prof Robbie McDonald, ESI, University of Exeter

Dr Jason Newton, SUERC, University of Glasgow

Dr Steffen Oppel, RSPB

Dr Yannis Papastamatiou, Florida International University

Dr Samantha Patrick, University of Liverpool

Dr Ana Payo-Payo, University of Aberdeen

Dr Debbie Russell, University of St Andrews

Prof James Russell, University of Auckland

Prof Steve Votier, Herriott-Watt University

Dr Freydis Vigfusdottir, University of Iceland

Dr Ewan Wakefield, University of Glasgow

Funding and Grants

Marie Sklodowska-Curie Global Fellowship (£230 000) 2017-2020 

NERC Life Sciences Mass Spectrometry Facility Support Grant (£19 000) 2019


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