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Dr David MP Jacoby

Research Lead

I've always been fascinated by how and why animals - and I'm including ourselves in this - make the decisions we make. From an early age though, this fascination always led me into the marine environment where behaviour seemed even more of an enigma. As an impressionable young kid, it was always the sharks and rays that captured my attention the most. Today, elasmobranchs are considered amongst the most threatened groups of vertebrates on earth and yet our ecological understanding of many of the 1000+ species is virtually non-existent.

I am a marine biologist and behavioural ecologist with a keen interest in social behaviour, what drives animals to aggregate and what implications this has for their conservation. Specifically, my research interests are in how individual animals move and interact through space and time and more recently how this knowledge can be used to improve the conservation and management of our aquatic environments. I head the NETLab that undertakes interdisciplinary research into the mechanisms that underpin behaviour, at different spatial scales, using network analyses, ecological modelling and animal tracking.



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Current group

Lucy Mead

PhD Candidate

Lucy is joining the lab as part of Cohort 7 of the London NERC DTP. Prior to this she completed a BSc in Geography and an MSc in Marine Systems and Policies combined with Earth Observation and Geoinformation Management, both at the University of Edinburgh. After graduating, Lucy spent time working in marine conservation and sea turtle research in Malaysia, and then as an assistant ecologist for a consultancy in the UK. Her PhD research involves the use of acoustic telemetry to explore the spatial and behavioural ecology of Critically Endangered Angelsharks around the Canary Islands. The project is co-supervised by Dr Gail Schofield and Dr Adam Piper.

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Natasha Marosi

PhD Candidate

Natasha joined the lab following several years of working with elasmobranchs on the Shark Reef Marine Reserve in Fiji as the Conservation Director for Beqa Adventure Divers.

She is a former criminal defense attorney, earning her JD from New York Law School, an MA in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a BA from Brooklyn College.  In 2018 she founded the conservation initiative ‘My Fiji Shark’, and credits the sharks for fuelling her desire to study shark behavior and personality. Natasha’s PhD research with the University of Exeter CRAB is focused on the structure and function of social behaviour in a closed population of Bull Sharks aggregating at a human influenced site.  She uses social network analyses to examine the drivers of inter-individual variation in sociality, in addition to acoustic telemetry and animal-borne video cameras to investigate whether social behaviour extends to free-ranging activities outside the study site. Her project is co-supervised by Prof. Darren Croft with additional guidance from Dr. Juerg Brunnschweiler and collaboration with Dr. Yannis Papastamatiou.

Dr. Mike Williamson

Post Doctoral RA

Mike rejoins the lab as a PDRA following the successful completion of his PhD in 2022 in which he used network analyses to explore the environmental drivers influencing the movement and behaviour of reef sharks in the British Indian Ocean Territory (London NERC DTP). Mike as has a wealth of experience studying marine vertebrates during six years working for the University of Queensland as the Research Officer for the Cetacean Ecology and Acoustics Laboratory, and as a freelance field technician for the University of St. Andrews. His current project is working with Dr Adam Piper tracking the movements and social behaviour of European eels in UK reservoirs.

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Hannah Wood

PhD Candidate

Hannah joins us following a three year position as a Research Assistant at ZSL working on tracking of seabirds in the British Indian Ocean Territory. Having completed an MSc in Applied Marine and Fisheries Ecology at the University of Aberdeen, Hannah is now undertaking her PhD through the London NERC DTP. Her project is focused on using remote sensing to determine the drivers of marine predator foraging behaviour, attempting to predict habitat shifts under different climate scenarios. This project is led by Dr Emma Tebbs, and she is co-supervised by Dr Robin Freeman and Prof. Terry Dawson, with additional guidance from Dr Ian Cleasby at the RSPB.

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Emma Deeks (2020) M.Res Computational Methods in Ecology and Evolution (Imperial College London)
'Effectiveness of the British Indian Ocean Territory Marine Protected Area enforcement vessel in overlapping with endangered elasmobranch species'
Grace Horberry (2020) M.Sc Marine Systems and Policies (University of Edinburgh)
'The effect of seabird nutrient subsidies on the spatial ecology of reef sharks in the British Indian Ocean Territory Marine Protected Area'

Alumni (pre - 2020)

IMP - Imperial College London

RVC - Royal Veterinary College

UCL - University College London

UEA - University of East Anglia

UOE - University of Exeter

UO - University of Oxford

UOP - University of Plymouth

UU - University of Ulster

Edges represent shared species for project work

Current Collaborators

Joanna BarkerZoological Society of London, UK
 Barbara Block, Stanford University, US
Taylor Chapple, Oregon State University, US
David Curnick, Zoological Society of London, UK
Francesco Ferretti, Virginia Tech, US
Debbie Fogell, University of Kent, UK
Robin Freeman, Zoological Society of London, UK
Austin Gallagher, Beneath The Waves, US
Tristan Guttridge, Saving The Blue, US
Neil Hammerschlag, University of Miami, US
David Jimenez Alvarado, Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, ES
Johann Mourier, Institut de Recherche pour le Dévelopment (IRD), FR
Eva Meyers, Museum Alexander Koenig, DE
Yannis Papastamatiou, Florida International University, US
Adam Piper, Zoological Society of London, UK
David Villegas-Ríos, Institute of Marine Research of Vigo (IIM-CSIC), ES

Yuuki Watanabe, National Institute of Polar Research, JP
If you are keen to join the group or collaborate with us, please get in contact at david.jacoby[at]
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