Dr. Michael Williamson
- 2022–present: Post-Doctoral Research Associate, Institute of Zoology, UK
- 2018–2021: PhD London NERC DTP, Institute of Zoology and King’s College London, UK
- 2010–2016: Research Officer, Cetacean Ecology and Acoustics Laboratory, University of Queensland, Australia
- 2007–2008: MSc in Wild Animal Biology, Institute of Zoology and Royal Veterinary College, UK
- 2003–2006: BSc in Zoology, Newcastle University, UK
I am interested in using tagging technologies and remote sensing to investigate the movement ecology of marine and freshwater fauna, and how this can be altered by environmental changes and anthropogenic disturbance.
Tracking the movement and social behaviour of European eels in UK reservoirs
The European eel (Anguilla anguilla) is a critically endangered catadromous fish that spawns in the Sargasso Sea. As larvae, eels cross the Atlantic Ocean and reach the European continent, where many enter freshwater bodies, such as rivers and lakes, and mature before returning to the Sargasso Sea to breed. Modern water infrastructures, such as dams, reservoirs weirs, however, provide obstacles to the natural migration into, and out of, freshwater bodies in the UK and throughout much of the European eel’s range.
Reservoirs represent an interesting obstacle for eel conservation as they can provide excellent habitat for young eels to mature, and many UK reservoirs have large populations of eels. However, if eels naturally migrate or are pumped into a reservoir they are often stuck, with no potential outlet for migration back into our freshwater bodies and out to sea to complete their life cycle. Little is currently known about the movement patterns or social behaviour of adult eels in reservoirs, and a greater understanding of the movement and aggregating drivers in reservoirs is important to implement translocation programs to return maturing adult eels into freshwater bodies where they can migrate back out to sea to breed.
Working in conjunction with government bodies and water companies, this project aims to use high resolution acoustic telemetry systems and network analyses to investigate European eel moment around reservoirs, combined with abiotic datasets to develop predictive models to enable forecasting of eel movement and behaviour under a range of management scenarios, thus providing an evidence-driven tool to inform protection and passage strategies for this critically endangered species.
Williamson, M.J., Tebbs, E.J., Dawson, T.P., Thompson, H.J., Head, C.E.I. and Jacoby, D.M.P. (2022). Monitoring shallow coral reef exposure to environmental stressors using satellite earth observation: the reef environmental stress exposure toolbox (RESET). Remote Sens. Ecol. Conserv. DOI: 10.1002/rse2.286
Williamson, M.J., Curnick, D.J., Jacoby, D.M.P., Durant, S.M., & O’Neill, H.M.K. (2022). Ethical considerations in natural history film production and the need for industry-wide best practice. Glob Ecol Conserv. DOI: 1016/j.gecco.2021.e01981
Curnick, D.J., Davies, A.J., Duncan, C., Freeman, R., Jacoby, D.M.P., Shelley, H.T.E, Rossi, C, Wearn, O.R., Williamson, M.J. & Pettorelli, N. (2021). SmallSats: a new technological frontier in ecology and conservation? Remote Sens Ecol Conserv. DOI: 10.1002/rse2.239
Williamson, M.J., Ten Doeschate, M.T.I., Deaville, R., Brownlow, A.C., & Taylor, N.L. (2021). Cetaceans as sentinels for informing climate change policy in UK waters. Mar Policy. 131: 104634. DOI: 10.1016/j.marpol.2021.104634
Williamson, M.J., Tebbs, E.J., Dawson, T.P., Curnick, D.J., Ferretti, F., Carlisle, A.B., .…. Jacoby, D.M.P. (2021). Analysing detection gaps in acoustic telemetry data to infer differential movement patterns in fish. Ecol Evol. 11: 2717-2730. DOI: 10.1002/ece3.7226
Hays, G.C., Koldewey, H.J., .… Curnick D.J. (2020) A review of a decade of lessons from one of the world's largest MPAs: conservation gains and key challenges. Mar Biol. 167:159. DOI: 10.1007/s00227-020-03776-w
Williamson, M.J., Tebbs, E.J., Dawson, T.P., & Jacoby, D.M.P. (2019) Satellite remote sensing in shark and ray ecology, conservation and management. Front Mar Sci. 135. DOI: 10.3389/fmars.2019.00135
Williamson, M.J., Dudgeon C., & Slade, R. (2018). Tonic immobility in the zebra shark, Stegostoma fasciatum, and its use for capture methodology. Environ Biol Fish. 101: 741-748. DOI: 10.1007/s10641-018-0734-2
Kavanagh, A.S., Owen, K., Williamson, M.J., Blomberg, S.P., Noad, M.J., Goldizen, A.W., Kniest, E., Cato, D.H., & Dunlop, R.A. (2016). Evidence for the functions of surface-active behaviours in humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae). Mar Mamm Sci. 33: 313-334. DOI: 10.1111/mms.12374
Williamson, M.J., Kavanagh, A.S., Noad, M.J., Kniest, E., & Dunlop, R.A. (2016) The short-term effect of tagging activities by small research vessels on the behaviour of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) Mar Mamm Sci. 32: 1234-1253. DOI: 10.1111/mms.12324