Heather Vance

Heather has an honours degree in Zoology from University College Dublin and a Masters degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare from Queens University, Belfast. She began her PhD within the Sound and Movement group at the University of St Andrews in May 2016 under the supervision of Dr Mark Johnson and Dr Sascha Hooker. 

Heather’s main research interests are the use of high resolution tag data to study the behaviour of marine species. In the past she has worked on the foraging behaviour and energetics of basking sharks on the north-west coast of Ireland with the Irish Basking Shark Study Group and Queens University, Belfast. This work involved the use of on-animal video and movement sensors. Currently her work is focused on building and analysing data from high resolution sound and movement recording tags (DTag 4),to investigate foraging behaviour in harbour porpoises and harbour seals. 

As part of her PhD research she is investigating the sensory capabilities of harbour porpoise during interactions with their prey, looking particularly at their impressive capabilities in capturing small agile prey, via echolocation. Further she is interested in developing novel methods in utilising multi-sensor tags to provide new insight into the elusive foraging behaviours of harbour seals and linking classical foraging indicators with new high resolution sensor data. Heather works in collaboration with colleagues at Aarhus University, Denmark and the Institute for Terrestrial and Aquatic Wildlife Research, Germany with funding from the University of St Andrews and the German Ministry of the Environment.