Dr Thomas Bodey

Dr Thomas Bodey
Dr Thomas Bodey
Dr Thomas Bodey




Research Fellow, University of Aberdeen (2020-present)

Marie Sklodowska-Curie Global Research Fellow, Waipapa Taumata Rau-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 ecological and socioeconomic impacts of invasive species; improving land management for biodiversity; and the conservation and restoration of a range of species.

I have a long-standing interest in island ecology, where study can address a wide variety of broad ecological 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 produce answers for applied conservation management actions, including feeding into progress towards PredatorFreeNZ, and providing 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. This includes analyses of country, regional and taxon specific costs, and the impacts and financial effectiveness of differing management approaches and the ability to predict costs and manage future economic risks.


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 and multi-predator communities in the Caribbean. 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 using biologgers 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 waders as model species. This has included assessing the importance of crop types for breeding success, identifying key predation 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 migrants combine with broader social interactions, and the varying physical environments they experience – anything from highly modified urban parkland and farmland to Arctic tundra. 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. Much of 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



Dr Al Baylis, SAERI

Prof Stuart Bearhop, University of Exeter

Dr Pierre Bize, Swiss Ornithological Institute

Dr Ian Cleasby, RSPB

Prof Franck Courchamp, CNRS

Prof Jaime Dick, Queen's University, Belfast

Dr David Douglas, RSPB

Dr Brad Duthie, University of Stirling

Dr Karen Freeman, Malagasy Fauna & Flora Group

Dr Patrick Garvey, Manaaki Whenua-Landcare Research

Prof Keith Hamer, University of Leeds

Sarah Havery, RSPB

Dr Mark Jessopp, University College Cork

Dr Rebecca Laidlaw, University of East Anglia

Prof Xavier Lambin, University of Aberdeen

Prof Robbie McDonald, University of Exeter

Dr Jason Newton, SUERC, University of Glasgow

Dr Steffen Oppel, Swiss Ornithological Institute

Dr Yannis Papastamatiou, Florida International University

Dr Samantha Patrick, University of Liverpool

Dr Ana Payo-Payo, Universidad Complutense, Madrid

Dr Neil Reid, Queen's University, Belfast

Dr Debbie Russell, University of St Andrews

Prof James Russell, University of Auckland

Prof Steve Votier, Herriott-Watt University

Dr Patrick White, Edinburgh Napier University


Current Students


Albert Bigata. Optimising the long-term control of invasive American mink from catchment to coast: how many mink is too many? Super DTP. (PI Xavier Lambin, Aberdeen)     See a blog about this project here

Alexandra Brighten. Linking individual eco-physiology to lifetime fitness in an animal athlete.  Robin & Brenda Kay Scholarship. (PI Thomas Bodey, Aberdeen)

Leah Gray. Developing effective agricultural wetland management to reduce predation nd improve wader breeding outcomes. Super DTP. (PI Thomas Bodey, Aberdeen)

Anna Kellner. Rewilding and the return of interacting meso-predators: Understanding, modelling and monitoring predator-prey dynamics in non-equilibrium ecosystems. Quadrat DTP. (PI Xavier Lambin, Aberdeen)        Personal website: https://annakellner.com

Rowan Kuminski. Cumulative effects of predation and bycatch in northern fulmar meta population dynamics. Quadrat DTP. (PI Greta Bocedi, Aberdeen)

Alusia Malinowska. Multitrophic responses to multitrophic conservation interventions: non-target species responses to biological eradications on an island. Quadrat DTP. (PI Neil Reid, Queen's Belfast)

Maria Clara Iruzun Martins.  Investigating interactions between man-made subsea structures, marine predators and commercial fisheries in the North Sea. Super DTP. (PI Debbie Russell, St Andrews)

Elouise Mayall. Searching for a bit of peace and quiet despite unreliable cues: dispersal, settlement, and fitness of a top predator in multi-use forests. Quadrat DTP. (PI Xavier Lambin, Aberdeen)

Felicitas Pamatat. Integrating social and ecological approaches for sustainable food production and biodiversity management: The case of Orkney farmers and Greylag Goose.  EastBio DTP. (PI Thomas Bodey, Aberdeen) Personal website: https://felipamatat.wordpress.com

Cristina Sellares.  Understanding ecological and social management of invasive species in an island community. Howard Davis Farm Trust, Jersey.  (PI Thomas Bodey, Aberdeen)

Michael Simmonds. Optimising invasive species control to reduce zoonotic disease risk and agricultural losses in Madagascar EastBio DTP. (PI Thomas Bodey, Aberdeen) 

Danni Thompson. Drivers of individual foraging/behaviour specialisation in a model seabird, the Falkland Islands shag. Quadrat DTP. (PI Thomas Bodey, Aberdeen)     Personal website: https://www.dannithompsonphotography.com


Past Students


Charlotte Jones, Comparing detection methods for predators of rapidly declining waders

Allison Terry, Personality variation and foraging behaviour of Falkland Island shags

Alex Philip, The influence of habitat type on the distribution of terrestrial reptiles on the Cayman Sister Islands

Amy Kidd, Identifying features of forestry clear fell associated with vole presence

Daniella Laing, Consistency in foraging behaviour of harbour seals



Megan D’Cruz, Ecological interactions between introduced and native mammals

Claudia Saez Lopez, Impacts of reef structure and complexity on invasive lionfish distributions

Holly Skene, Impacts of nest camera usage on avian predator behaviour

Viola Panigada, Enhancing place-based conservation efforts for fin whales in the NW Mediterranean

Erin Smith, Understanding individual variation in invasive rats

Erin Wilson, Consequences of personality differences in a wild seabird

John Gillies, Factors influencing feather mite abundance in the European Robin

Margot Storez, Where to fly for food: comparison of foraging trips in chick-rearing fulmars under differing weather conditions

Funding and Grants

Royal Society Research Grant (£70 000) 2024

University of Aberdeen PumpPriming Research Grant (£10 000) 2024

NERC Life Sciences Mass Spectrometry Facility Support Grant (£30 000) 2024

Darwin Plus 128 co-I (£50 000) 2021-2024

NERC Life Sciences Mass Spectrometry Facility Support Grant (£27 000) 2019

University of Auckland PumpPriming Research Grant (£5 000) 2019

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



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