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Dr. Iain Staniland - Profile

photo of Dr. Iain Staniland Marine Mammal Ecologist

+44 (0)1223 221611

British Antarctic Survey
Madingley Road, High Cross
Cambridge Cambridgeshire CB3 0ET United Kingdom


I am a biologist with expertise in Antarctic wildlife, in particular seals and penguins. I have a strong field work background having spent two winters and a number of summers in the Antarctic, including a few under canvas. My scientific passion is in animal behaviour and my research is currently focused on feeding ecology; Using animal-borne telemetry devices to track their behaviour whilst at sea. This work attempts to not only understand the behaviour of the animals themselves but also use these marine predators to monitor their underwater environment.  My recent work has looked at the behaviour of male and female seals and relating the observed differences to the contrasting constraints placed upon them by their life histories and morphology.My work forms part of the ECOSYSTEMS core science project.

I completed my first degree in Marine Biology at Swansea University with a third year project examining the shell swapping behaviour of hermit crabs. I then undertook a PhD with Leicester University entitled “The feeding behaviour and gastric evacuation of whiting Merlangius Merlangus”. The main bulk of this research was carried out at the Fisheries Laboratory in Lowestoft (now part of CEFAS). I took part in a research cruise of the RV Cirolana looking at the diet of juvenile whiting, and complimented this with aquarium based studies of digestion rates and prey capture dynamics. These experiments were used to construct a stochastic dynamic model of whiting feeding.




1996 – (Current) SSO - British Antarctic Survey: Seal and Penguin Biologist


Working as a research scientist in the conservation biology group with a special interest in the biology and foraging dynamics of Antarctic fur seals.



Field Work Experience


1996-1999 Bird Island research station South Georgia, investigating foraging, breeding and diet of Antarctic fur seals. Also working with penguin and albatross species breeding on the island. In final year I combined my science with the role of base commander running the base administration.


1999-2000 (summer) Bird Island research station, training new Assistant and working on seal biology projects.


2003-2004 Heard Island (summer), invited to join an Australian Antarctic Division expedition working on seal and penguin foraging.


2004 – Bird Island (summer), Investigating male fur seal foraging using satellite transmitters.


2005 – 2006 Cooper Bay, South Georgia (field camp) leading a project on female fur seal ecology.


2006 – 2007 Bird Island research station, using animal borne cameras on male fur seals in collaboration with American Scientists. Also participating in and assisting the filming for ‘Penguin Safari’ with Nigel Marvin


2007 (Autumn) Commander Islands, Russia, invited to join American / Russian project tagging northern fur seals


2007 – 2008 Hound Bay, South Georgia (field camp) Leading a project on female fur seal ecology and king penguin foraging.






PhD, University of Leicester and MAFF Fisheries Laboratory Lowestoft “The Feeding Ecology and Behaviour of Whiting Merlangius merlangus.”






BSc (Hons) Marine Biology, University of Wales (College Swansea). Grade 2i



Spoken Presentations


Scientific Meetings    


Marine Mammal Conferences: Cape Town and Vancouver.


Marine Mammal Society - Predator diets workshop.


British Ecological Society Winter Meeting.


Challenger Society Annual Meeting.


Sexual Segregation in Vertebrates – workshop at Cambridge University.


ZSL symposium on Management of Marine Ecosystems.


2nd International Bio-logging Science symposium.


Conservation biology group visit to CNRS in Chize.





General Talks


            Antarctic Seals – Natural History Museum (+ Internet webcast)


Tourist Lecture – M/V Aleksey Maryshev, South Georgia


Annual BAS training conferences


Rutland Ornithological group - Leicestershire


Visit by HMS Endurance captain and Vice Admiral Royal Navy.


(Also the organiser for the Biosciences Seminars at BAS)


Cambridge Conservation group – Anglia Polytechnic University.


            British Trust for Ornithology – Thetford, Norfolk.


            CEFAS, Fisheries laboratory – Lowestoft, Suffolk.


            Rutlish Boys Comprehensive School – Merton, London.


            Ysgol Carrog primary school - Glyndyfrdwy, Denbighshire.



Other relevant information

Advanced computing skills, including, Microsoft Office, R project, SAS, SAS Enterprise guide, Basic, Minitab and Endnote.


Reviewer for NFS, Marine Ecology Progress Series, Nature, Ecology, Behavioural Ecology and Socio-Biology, Marine Mammal Science, Polar Biology, Antarctic Science, Canadian Journal of Zoology.


Member of Marine Mammal Society


Clean Driving License