Megafauna Ecology


Research Highlight: “Movement ecology of Arabian pelagic predators”

Lead scientist: Collin Williams, PhD student

Collin's research utilizes satellite telemetry to investigate the space use and diving behavior of large pelagic fishes surrounding the Arabian Peninsula through case studies focused on yellowfin tuna, blue and striped marlin, silky sharks, and tiger sharks. He is particularly interested in how certain factors influence pelagic fish movements in the Arabian Seas Region, including ocean deoxygenation, elevated temperatures, human activities, and even the presence of certain bathymetric features. The primary aim of this research is to develop an improved understanding of pelagic fish movements in the Red Sea and surrounding waters that enables informed conservation actions to be established.     

                       tiger shark tagging  Clare marlin taggingsilky shark tagging


Research Highlight: “Characterization of a guitarfish nursery in the Saudi Arabian Red Sea and beyond"

Lead scientist: Ellie Richardson, PhD student

The halavi guitarfish (Glaucostegus halavi) is a moderately-sized Rhinopristiform batoid found throughout the western Indian Ocean, Red Sea, and Arabian Gulf. Despite its status as "Critically Endangered" according to the IUCN, significant gaps persist in our understanding of its life history and habitat. As a Ph.D. student in the Reef Ecology Lab, Ellie's research aims to help close this knowledge gap by focusing on a population of guitarfish residing in the first documented nursery ground in the central Red Sea. Through investigation of local-scale and broad-scale population genetics, the application of capture-mark-recapture techniques to infer life history data, and movement ecology projects, she hopes to offer valuable insights into the ecology of this species and therefore better support conservation efforts in the region.

halavi guitarfish research kaust
Ellie Richardson halavi guitarfish research

Research Highlight: 
“The influence of temperature on Red Sea turtle populations"

Lead scientist: Kirsty Scott, PhD student

Sea turtles display temperature-dependent sex determination where the incubation temperature of their nests dictates the sexual demographics of the population. Sea turtle populations on the Red Sea are already persisting at elevated incubation temperatures, close to or even breaching their supposed thermal limits. We aim to use this population to predict the fate of other sea turtle populations globally in the face of anthropogenic warming and unlock their ability to adapt to the warming rate if given sufficient time.

sea turtle hatchling Ras Baraidi Saudi Arabiasea turtle research Saudi ArabiaKirsty Scott sea turtle research



Tanabe, LK; Cochran, JEM; Berumen, ML (2023) Inter-nesting, migration, and foraging behaviors of green turtles (Chelonia mydas) in the central-southern Red Sea. Scientific Reports 13, 11222

Tanabe, LK; Cochran, JEM; Williams, CT; Garzon, F; Langner, U; Hardenstine, RS; Hawkes, LA; Brainard, RE; Eweida, AA; Marshall, PA; Berumen, ML (2023) Case report: tracking data from foraging hawksbill turtles in the northern Red Sea. Animal Biotelemetry 11, 1

Knochel, AM; Cochran, JEM; Kattan, A; Stevens, GMW; Bojanowksi, E; Berumen, ML (2022) Crowdsourced data reveal multinational connectivity, population demographics, and possible nursery ground of endangered oceanic manta rays in the Red Sea. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 1– 13

Knochel, AM; Hussey, NE; Kessel, ST; Braun, CD; Cochran, JEM; Hill, G; Klaus, R; Checkchak, T; El Hassen, NME; Younnis, M; Berumen, ML (2022) Home sweet home: spatiotemporal distribution and site fidelity of the reef manta ray (Mobula alfredi) in Dungonab Bay, Sudan. Movement Ecology 10, 22

Hamilton, RJ; Lozano-Cortes, D; Bode, M; Almany, GR; Harrison, HB; Pita, J; Saenz-Agudelo, P; Gereniu, C; Waldie, PA; Peterson, N; Choat, JH; Berumen, ML (2021) Larval dispersal and fishing pressure influence recruitment in a coral reef fishery. Journal of Applied Ecology 00, 1-12

Cochran, JEM; Braun, CD; Cagua, EF; Campbell Jr, MF; Hardenstine, RS; Kattan, A; Priest, MA; Sinclair-Taylor, TH; Skomal,  GB; Sultan, S; Sun, L; Thorrold, SR; Berumen, ML (2019) Multi-method assessment of whale shark (Rhincodon typus) residency, distribution, and dispersal behavior at an aggregation site in the Red Sea. PLoS ONE 14(9):e0222285

Full Reef Ecology Lab publication list