Charlotte Bellot

Research interest

humpback whale.jpg


Behavioral Ecology of Cetaceans: The relationship of body condition with behaviour and reproductive status

Body condition is considered as an important indicator of the well-being of free-ranging mammals, which can affect their fitness and reproductive success. The idea is to develop, validate and implement non-invasive methods to quantify the body condition of whales and more generally cetaceans.

The study will be focused on humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae). One part of the data collection will be done with a drone. The aim is to doing photographs overhead individuals. Thus, we obtain a general view of each individuals. Thanks to the vertical close-up photographs of the whales, we will be able to use a photogrammetric method to extract several morphometric measurements [See figures below which come from Christiansen F. et al. 2016 and Durban et al. 2016].

Christiansen F. et al. 2016.png      figure 2.png


During my thesis, I will thus charge to analyse the drone photographs in order to measure the shape and especially the width and length of the individuals. The objective is to estimate the energy loss caused through reproduction. Then, we will able to know how much food they need to succeed in reproduction.

Finally, in the best case, we hope this could allow to set up some kind of management in their areas of food resources.

I will work with the Scottish Oceans Institute of St Andrews, Scotland. The fieldwork will take place in Gulf St Lawrence, Canada during and after the reproductive season.

My thesis is supervised by professor Klaus Zuberbühler (University of Neuchâtel) and Prof. Patrick Miller (University of St Andrews).


Reference for the figures:

Picture of a breaching humpback whale: http://www.fnz.at/fnz/forum/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=6794

Christiansen F. et al. 2016. Noninvasive unmanned aerial vehicle provides estimates of the energetic cost of reproduction in humpback whales. Ecosphere 7(10):e01468.10.1002/ecs2.1468

Durban J.W. et al. 2016. Photogrammetry of blue whales with an unmanned hexacopter. Marine Mammal Science 32(4): 1510-1515

Charlotte dolphin.jpg