Research Scientist

Andre field of research is on prey-predator relationships and interactions with their environment using little penguins as ecological model. Together with collaborators, they have been using more sensitive variables such as foraging efficiency, presence/absence of thermoclines, foraging-trip-duration, isotopic niche analysis, fractal diving analysis and new spatial temporal scales to detect penguins' response to environmental changes, complementing traditional variables of population size, mortality or survival. His research produced over 70 scientific papers in peer reviewed journals, mainly on foraging behaviour of little penguins. Andre is on the editorial board of PLoS ONE, Heliyon and Open Journal of Ornithology, former editor of the Australasian Seabird Group Bulletin , executive member of the recently created IUCN Penguin Specialist Group and affiliated to the Monash University. See also interview at ABC Meet the Scientist.


       Phone: + 61 (3) 59512849

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

Professional area

Foraging ecology, seabirds, little penguins, trophic interactions, food webs, ecosystem ecology

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 and fellows

  • Airam Rodrigues. Artificial lights and seabirds: solutions to a fatal attraction (Post Doc, Marie Curie Fellow, Estacion Biologica de Donana, Spain, Juan Negro)
  • Sonia Sanchez. Reconstruction of the habitat use of an iconic marine top-predator: a tool to manage and conserve ecosystems (Ph.D., Monash University – Richard Reina)
  • Catherine Cavallo. Monitoring ecosystem change using the foraging and breeding ecology of a marine top predator (Ph.D., Monash University – Richard Reina)
  • Meagan Tucker. Environmental variation and reproductive ecology of little penguins (Eudyptula minor) in an urbanised colony (B.Sc. Hons., Monash University - Richard Reina)

Selected recent publications (full list in Research Gate)

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.

Pelletier L, Chiaradia A, Kato A and Ropert-Coudert Y (2014) Fine-scale spatial age segregation in the limited foraging area of an inshore seabird species, the little penguin. Oecologia DOI: 10.1007/s00442-014-3018-3

Old penguins (>11 years old) foraged closer to the shore, in shallower water than middle-aged penguins (between 5-11 years old). Penguins of similar age would share a common life history to forage preferentially together or to share similar foraging limitations.

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.