Dr Chantel Elston

Post Doc Researcher
Dr Chantel Elston

Research Interests

The distribution patterns and spatial ecology of selected batoids along the South African coastline

Southern Africa has one of the most diverse chondrichthyan faunas (sharks, rays, skates and chimaearas) in the world, however, research efforts on rays, in particular, remains severely limited. In terms of the conservation status of South African rays, a high percentage are listed as Data Deficient (38.7%) or threatened (26.7%) by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.  Effective management of biodiversity relies on understanding the distributional and movement patterns of targeted species. This ensures that management strategies occur at appropriate spatial and temporal scales.

My research focuses on identifying the distribution patterns and understanding the spatial ecology of certain ray species along the South African coastline using passive acoustic telemetry and Baited Remote Underwater Video Systems. South Africa is an area of heterogenous environmental conditions (i.e. cold Benguela and warm Agulhas currents) and there are known to be a few ray species that are distributed along all three coasts (West, South and East) across this environmental heterogeneity. Most studies of ray spatial ecology take place in a small, thermally similar environment. Consequently, our understanding of how rays spatially and temporally respond to such high levels of thermal variability is unknown. Additionally, rays in coastal environments can occupy particular areas of importance, such as sheltered bays and estuaries. Identifying these potential habitats of importance can be critical in management efforts.

I completed both my MSc and PhD at Rhodes University, in which I used a multi-methods approach to investigate the trophic and spatial ecology of 3 stingray species at a remote atoll in the Seychelles.  

Supervisor: Dr Paul Cowley

Recent Peer-Reviewed Publications


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