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Personal profile

Research interests

Foraging behaviour and flight costs of urban-nesting gulls

City environments are drastically different from the natural environment of most bird species, yet some species are able to exploit urban landscapes very successfully. Over the last 40 years lesser black-back gull Larus fuscus populations have increased dramatically in many UK cities, establishing large urban nesting populations. Reasons behind this sudden increase are unclear and little is known about the ecology of these urban nesting populations. Lower cost of transport and/or better living conditions such as less predators, higher temperature and human waste as a food source might be possibilities for this increase. Analysing foraging behaviour in combination with flight energetics of urban gulls could increase our understanding of why these gulls are living in urban areas. 

This project started in 2016 and is part of a larger European Research Council (ERC) funded program looking at bird inspired technologies for autonomous flight. I am working together with my colleague and PhD candidate Cara Williamson who focusses on bio-inspired path planning for unmanned air vehicles in urban environment. The aim of my project is analysing the foraging behaviour and energetic costs of gulls living in urban environments gull population and compare these to gulls in traditional rural populations.

In the summer of 2016 and 2017 we deployed 11 LBB gulls with UvA BiTS GPS loggers. These trackers provide location, altitude, speed and 3D acceleration data over the whole project period (2016-2020). From the 3D acceleration data, specific gull behaviours have been calculated. Additionally, habitat, elevation and weather conditions maps of Bristol and surrounding areas have been created.

Please follow the urban gulls via their own twitter account @UrbanGulls and look where they have been in the last couple of days on our own website!

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Research Output

  • 2 Article (Academic Journal)
  • 1 Conference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)

Bird-inspired Velocity Optimization for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in the Urban Environment

Williamson, C., Spelt, A. & Windsor, S. P., 5 Jan 2020, AIAA SciTech Forum and Exposition 2020. American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc. (AIAA), 19 p. AIAA 2020-1948

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)

Open Access
File
  • 104 Downloads (Pure)

    Habitat use of urban-nesting lesser black-backed gulls during the breeding season

    Spelt, A., Williamson, C., Shamoun-Baranes, J., Shepard, E. L. C., Rock, P. & Windsor, S., 19 Jul 2019, In : Scientific Reports. 9, 1, 11 p., 10527.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

    Open Access
    File
  • 2 Citations (Scopus)
    122 Downloads (Pure)

    Sex allocation and sex‐specific parental investment in an endangered seabird

    Spelt, A. & Pichegru, L., 31 Dec 2016, In : Ibis.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)