Nicholas L Payne

Nick Payne photo

Project Title: 

Barriers in the sea: how temperature affects the physiology of oceanic megafauna and defines their global distribution limits

Host Organisation: 

Roehampton University

Short biography

Nick completed his Undergraduate degree and PhD at the University of Adelaide, South Australia. He then began a postdoctoral fellowship in Sydney, exploring how temperature and rainfall affect the ecology of fish in estuaries. Nick then moved to Tokyo, Japan, to study the behaviour and physiology of large fish such as sharks and ocean sunfish as part of a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Fellowship.

Brief description of research project

Marine species hit invisible boundaries in the oceans that define their range limits. These boundaries are thought to be largely regulated by temperature, but the mechanisms are not well-understood. Nick will examine how temperature influences performance of marine animals in the wild, in order to better understand temperature’s role in defining species range limits. He will focus his study on several large-bodied, migratory species (including sharks and ocean sunfish), and will combine satellite tagging with a variety of other animal-borne sensor technology.

The project is progressing extremely well. I have written and submitted two manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed journals, with one accepted in Ecology Letters (a top journal in my field), and have analysed a third dataset which I aim to submit within two months. I have given seven undergraduate lectures, six departmental seminars, attended one international conference, and been interviewed about by work by New Scientist. Together with several new academic collaborations that I have begun in the past year, I have also instigated fruitful collaborations with three different Government advisory agencies: one in the UK, and two in the Republic of Ireland.  I have learned some excellent new skills from researchers at my host institute, particularly on how to conceive and execute high-quality undergraduate lectures. The first 12 months have been exciting and rewarding, and will provide a great springboard for achieving further impacts in the second year of my fellowship.