Nico Lübcker

PhD Student


It all started when…I am an NRF-funded Ph.D. student at the Mammal Research Institute, Department of Zoology & Entomology, University of Pretoria.  My involvement with the prestigious Marion Island Marine Mammal Programme commenced after I completed a year-long research expedition on Marion Island during 2012-2013. My research combines biogeochemistry, endocrinology, and population demography to assess the effect of trophodynamics on the demography of southern elephant seals (SES) Mirounga leonina on Marion Island. Rigorous demographic data exists for SES from Marion Island but their trophic ecology remains largely unknown. During my MSc, I used the stable isotope signature captured along the length of keratinous tissue (whiskers) to provide a unique, temporally integrated assessment of the trophic ecology of juvenile SES at Marion Island. The aim of my Ph.D. research is to identify how different foraging strategies, i.e. niche breadth, habitat use, trophic level occupied, relate to an alternative, intermittent, female reproductive pattern identified in the Marion Island SES over three decades of research, while using non-invasive sampling techniques.


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