Research Scientist

Andre research field is on prey-predator relationships and interactions with their environment using little penguins as case study. Together with collaborators, they have developed more sensitive variables such as foraging efficiency, presence/absence of thermoclines and foraging-trip-duration to detect environmental changes, complementing traditional variables of population size, mortality or survival. His research produced over 40 scientific papers in peer reviewed journals on foraging behaviour of little penguins. Andre is academic editor for PLoS ONE and Open Journal of Ornithology, editor of the Australasian Seabird Group Bulletin and affiliated to the Monash University. See also interview at ABC Meet the Scientist.

       Email:  achiaradia@penguins.org.au

       Phone: + 61 (3) 59512849

       Mail:     Phillip Island Nature Parks, PO Box 97, Cowes Vic. 3922, Australia

Professional area

Foraging ecology, seabirds, trophic interactions, food webs

Current projects

  • Ecosystem modelling of Northwest Bass Strait - Ecopath with Ecosim
  • Food web of little penguins
  • Conventional diet of little penguins and crested terns
  • Prey-predator interactions using isotopic diet
  • Diving behaviour of little penguins
  • Attendance patterns and environment changes
  • Development and upgrade of remote automated systems
  • Effect of artificial light on penguins and shearwaters
  • Research newsletter and website editor

Current post graduate students

  • Nicole Kowalczyk. Trophic interaction of Little penguins at St Kilda: predator-prey relationships in limited a foraging zone and on a specialised diet. (Ph.D., Monash University – Richard Reina)
  • Airam Rodrigues. Artificial lights and seabirds: solutions to a fatal attraction (Post Doc, Marie Curie Fellow, Estacion Biologica de Donana, Spain, Juan Negro)
  • Kelly Edwards. Effect of age on the foraging behaviour of Little penguins. (MSc, University of Southhampton, John Williams and IFREMER, France, Claire Saraux)
  • Matt Simpson. Changes in foraging behaviour under increased breeding success (B.Sc. Hons., Monash University - Richard Reina)
  • Kevin Leal. Decadal-year changes in diving and diet of little penguins. (MSc, Université de Strasbourg, France, Yan Ropert-Coudert and Akiko Kato)

Selected recent publications (full list in Google Scholar)

Chiaradia A, Forero M, McInnes J and Ramirez F (2014). Searching for the true diet of marine predators: Incorporating Bayesian priors into stable isotope mixing models. PLOS ONE: Doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0092665

We provided the first evidence that the combined use of DNA analysis and stable isotope together could provide better estimates of the actual diet of top marine predators like penguins - a powerful tool in penguin food resource management.

Kowalczyk, N. D., A. Chiaradia, T. J. Preston and R. D. Reina (2014). Linking dietary shifts and reproductive failure in seabirds: a stable isotope approach. Functional Ecology: DOI: 10.1111/1365-2435.12216.

We linked changes in prey availability with low  penguin breeding success using independent prey abundance from fisheries Victoria, crucial information for conservation and management of penguin food resources.

Chiaradia A. (2013). Little penguin faces big challenges. Book chapter in: Penguins, Their World, Their Ways. Eds. Tui De Roy, Mark Jones and Julie Cornthwaite. 240 pages, CSIRO PUBLISHING

Features the foraging ecology of Little penguins from Phillip Island in a chapter with a long-term analysis revealing how a local penguin population recovered and stabilized by shifting its prey base in the aftermath of the near-total collapse of pilchard schools along the south Australian coast.

Chiaradia A, Forero MG, Hobson KA, Swearer SE, Hume F, Renwick L and Dann D. (2012). Diet segregation between two colonies of little penguins (Eudyptula minor). Austral Ecology 37: 610–619.

This study revealed diet segregation between colonies with close proximity. We found diet composition and isotopic values were different but with no effect in prey quality (similar protein levels).

Saraux C, Robinson-Laverick S M, Le Maho Y, Ropert-Coudert Y and Chiaradia A. (2011). Plasticity in foraging strategies of inshore birds: how Little Penguins maintain body reserves while feeding offspring: Ecology 92: 1909-1916.

It showed that inshore seabirds like Little penguins do have an elaborate foraging plan, alternating long and short foraging trips to provide to their young and self-maintenance.

Zimmer I, Ropert-Coudert Y, Kato A, Ancel A and Chiaradia A. (2011). Does foraging performance change with age in female little penguins (Eudyptula minor)? PLoS ONE 6(1): e16098. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0016098.

We found that middle aged females were better foragers than young/old females. The middle age group has good fitness and experience so they may respond better to negative environmental changes.