Kate Sprogis PhD

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Research Associate

My primary expertise lies in the understanding of animal behavioural ecology. I am particularly interested in animal movement patterns and behaviour, and how these are linked to their habitat and environmental variability. My PhD research involved quantifying sex-specific patterns of bottlenose dolphins in regards to abundance, demographic parameters, home ranges and habitat use. I have previously worked on dugong ecology, and explored the fine-scale movements and habitat use of dugongs with respect to the tidal cycle and vessel traffic. I have also assisted projects on various dolphin and whale species (incl. sperm whales, humpback whales, Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins and spinner dolphins). Through my research, I have an interest in spatial analyses, habitat modelling and population modelling.

My PhD research explored sex-specific patterns in abundance, population parameters, home ranges and habitat use of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) in Bunbury, Western Australia. Since 2007, research has focussed on the Bunbury dolphin population through the South West Marine Research Program. Bunbury has one of Western Australia’s largest commercial shipping ports and is a popular location for recreational water activities and dolphin-targeted tourism. My study area expanded 540 km2, extending from Busselton to Binningup. Photo-identification images of dolphin dorsal fins were obtained from systematic boat-based surveys carried out across all austral seasons.

The primary aims of my research were to:

  • Estimate sex-specific patterns in abundance, apparent survival and temporary emigration of dolphins and to investigate fluctuations in population parameters with environmental conditions;
  • Investigate sex-specific differences in home range size for adult dolphins, and explore whether dolphins could be partitioned into groups based on home range size;
  • Examine the influence of biotic and abiotic factors on the seasonal spatial distribution and habitat use of adult male and adult female dolphins.

Sprogis, K.R., Christiansen, F., Wandres, M., Bejder, L. 2017. El Niño Southern Oscillation influences the abundance and movements of a marine top predator in coastal waters. Global Change Biology, doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.13892

Sprogis, K.R., Raudino, H.C., Hocking, D., and Bejder, L. (2017). Complex prey handling of octopus by bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus). Marine Mammal Science, doi: 10.1111/mms.12405.


Christiansen, F., A. M. Dujon, K. R. Sprogis, J. P. Y. Arnould and L. Bejder. 2016. Noninvasive unmanned aerial vehicle provides estimates of the energetic cost of reproduction in humpback whales. Ecosphere 7:10:e01468. doi: 10.1002/ecs2.1468

Sprogis, K.R., Pollock, K.H., Raudino, H.C., Allen, S.J., Kopps, A.M., Manlik, O., Tyne, J.A. and Bejder, L. (2016). Sex-specific patterns in abundance, temporary emigration and survival of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) in coastal and estuarine waters. Frontiers in Marine Science 3:12. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2016.00012

Sprogis, K. R., H. C. Raudino, R. Rankin, C. D. MacLeod, L. Bejder. (2016). Home range size of adult Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) in a coastal and estuarine system is habitat and sex-specific. Marine Mammal Science. doi: 10.1111/mms.12260

Smith, H.C., and Sprogis, K.R. (2016). Seasonal feeding on giant cuttlefish (Sepia apama) by Indo-pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) in south-western Australia. Australian Journal of Zoology. doi: 10.1071/ZO15075

Sprogis, K. R. 2015. Sex-specific patterns in abundance, home ranges and habitat use of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) in south-western Australia. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.
Supervisors: Prof. Lars Bejder, Prof. Ken Pollock, Dr Halina Kobryn, Dr. Randall Wells.

Conference Items
Sprogis, K. R., Pollock, K., Christiansen, F., Raudino, H. and Bejder, L. 2015. Seasonal and sex-specific patterns in abundance and temporary emigration of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus): The effect of ENSO. In: 21st Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, San Francisco, USA.

Sprogis, K. R., Smith, H., MacLeod, C., Wells, R., Kobryn, H., Johnston, D., Pollock, K. and Bejder, L. 2013. Sex-specific differences in the ranging patterns of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins in south-west Australia. In: 20th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, Dunedin, New Zealand.

Sprogis, K. R., 2012. Habitat modelling and population dynamics of the bottlenose dolphins around Bunbury. In: Critical Horizons Series: Ecotourism- Future Challenges and Innovations, Bunbury, Western Australia.

Sprogis, K. R., Pollock, K., Kobryn, H., Wells, R. and Bejder, L. 2011. Predictive habitat modelling of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) in south-west Australia. In: 48th Annual Conference of the Australian Marine Science Association, Fremantle, Western Australia.

2011- 2015: Doctor of Philosophy. Murdoch University, Perth.

2011- 2013: Society of Marine Mammalogy Australian/NZ student chapter co-founder and leader.

2004- 2008: Bachelor of Marine Studies, majoring in marine biology and ecology, with first class Honours. The University of Queensland and the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Relevant Employment History

Lecturer and course coordinator, Council of International Education and Exchange.

Academic Tutor, Murdoch University, 2015.

Moreton Bay Research station assistant, University of Queensland, Stradbroke Island, 2009.

Academic Tutor, University of Queensland, 2008 – 2009.


Murdoch University Research Excellence Award.

Australian Postgraduate Award.

Best student poster at the Australian Marine Science Association Conference, 2011.

Moreton Bay Research Scholarship, University of Queensland, 2008.

Volunteer Work

Population studies of cetaceans, Western Australia Centre for Whale Research,
Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean (Malta to South Africa), 2010.

Hawaiian Spinner Dolphin Project,
Murdoch University and Duke University, Hawai’i, 2010.

Dolphin surveys in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill,
Sarasota Dolphin Research Program. Port St. Joe, Gulf of Mexico, 2010.

Sarasota Dolphin Research Program, Mote Marine Laboratory Internship. Florida, USA, 2010.

Sperm whales, tourism and acoustic research project. University of St. Andrews and
University of Canterbury. Kaikoura, New Zealand, 2010.

Foraging ecology and population structure of inshore bottlenose dolphins in Moreton Bay,
Queensland, Australia. University of Queensland, 2009.

Humpback Whale Acoustic Research Collaboration. University of Queensland. Peregian
Beach, 2009.

Southern Ocean Persistent Organic Pollutant Program on humpback whales. Griffith
University. Stradbroke Island, 2009.

Migratory movements, timing of migration, abundance and group characteristics of
humpback whales. Southern Cross University. Byron Bay, 2008.

The population dynamics of dugongs in southern Queensland. University of Queensland.
Moreton Bay, 2008.

The Oceania Project (snubfin and Indo-Pacific Humpback dolphins). Southern Cross University.

Prof. Lars Bejder, Murdoch University, Australia.
Prof. Ken Pollock, Murdoch University and NCSU, USA.
Dr Halina Kobryn, Murdoch University. Australia.
Dr Randall Wells, Sarasota Dolphin Research Program, USA.
Kate R. Sprogis, PhD
Cetacean Research Unit
School for Veterinary and Life Sciences
Murdoch University
South Street, Murdoch, WA 6150 Australia

Follow me on Twitter: @KateSprogis
Click here for Research Gate.
Click here for my MUCRU Blogs.
Click here for my photography website.

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