European Shag

The European Shag.

Researching the UKs most efficient diving bird

University of Exeter

The European shag is one of the most efficient diving birds in the world; however, a recent UK survey revealed that, on average, the population has declined by twenty five per cent over the past decade.

Little is known about the role of colonial living in seabird feeding ecology. This project aims to study the behaviour of shags by collecting data and analysing the foraging behaviour of a colony of these birds in the Isles of Scilly to see if, and how, information is exchanged between them and how they manage to be so efficient.

University of Exeter PhD researcher Julian Evans is working with Cornish company Fourth Element on this project. The research hopes to give a further insight into the evolution of avian colonies and why many seabird populations are experiencing sharp downturns.

Julian is recording his research in a blog and Fourth Element will disseminate the findings to the diving community as part of its commitment to educating divers about threats to marine life.

In addition to developing Fourth Element's work in this area, the results of the study will have important implications for seabird conservation, not just in Cornwall, but the whole of the UK and beyond.