Martin Beal

I am a Swedish-American nature enthusiast with an educational background in Animal Ecology. I grew up in the United States, where I spent much of my time playing sports, learning the birds and exploring the vast diversity of North America’s natural places. I also spent time in Brazil in the Atlantic Rainforest region as both an exchange student and a conservation volunteer. In keeping with my roots, I have also lived in Sweden, where I completed a masters in Animal Ecology in 2018, completing a thesis on the breeding season foraging movements of Caspian Terns in the Baltic Sea.

The focus of my PhD project is using spatial analyses of animal movements to inform conservation, such as by improving techniques to identify important sites for animal populations (e.g., Key Biodiversity Area network) based on tracking data. The ultimate aim of my work is to inform policy processes by providing useful and actionable information regarding animal spatial requirements, be they for foraging, breeding, or migrating.


Present – ISPA - Instituto Universitário – Ph.D Candidate in Behavioral Biology

  • Thesis: Identifying Marine Key Biodiversity Areas using tracking data

2018 – Lund University – MSc. Biology with specialization in Animal Ecology

  • Thesis: (Pat)Terns in space and time: Movement, activity, and habitat preference in breeding Caspian Terns (Hydroprogne caspia)
  • Supervisor: Susanne Åkesson

2014 – Ohio University – BSc. Wildlife Biology and Conservation with minor in Geography


Beal, M., Dias, M. P., Phillips, R. A., Oppel, S., Hazin, C., Pearmain, E. J., Adams, J., Anderson, D. J., Antolos, M., Arata, J. A., Arcos, J. M., Arnould, J. P. Y., Awkerman, J., Bell, E., Bell, M., Carey, M., Carle, R., Clay, T. A., Cleeland, J., … Catry, P. (2021). Global political responsibility for the conservation of albatrosses and large petrels. Science Advances, 7(10), eabd7225.

2016 – Species account author (Cassins Kingbird; Tyrannus vociferans) – Colorado Breeding Bird Atlas II (Editor: Lynn E. Wickersham)

Beal, M. S., Lattanzio, M. S., & Miles, D. B. (2014). Differences in the thermal physiology of adult Yarrow’s spiny lizards (Sceloporus jarrovii) in relation to sex and body size. Ecology and Evolution, 4(22), 4220–4229.

Posters & Presentations

2021 – 7Th World Seabird Twitter Conference – Presentation: "Global political responsibility for the conservation of albatrosses and large petrels"

2020 – Global Goals Week (Twitter) – Presentation: Identifying Marine Key Biodiversity Areas using tracking data.

2018 – International Seabird Group Conference – Poster: Caspian Tern foraging habitat selection and site fidelity during breeding in the Baltic Sea

2017 – Novia University Research Symposium – Presentation: Nest-phase movement patterns among Caspian Terns of the Baltic Sea.

2017 – Ecology of Animal Migration course – Presentation: Nest-phase movement patterns among Caspian Terns of the Baltic Sea

2013 – Journal Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists – Poster: Thermal Ecology of Sceloparus jarrovii

2013 – Ohio University Student Expo – Poster: Thermal Ecology of Sceloparus jarrovii

2012 – JCU/OU Herpetological Symposium – Presentation – Cool Runnings: Effects of Temperature on the Endurance of Sceloparus jarrovii

Work Experience

2015 (May - August) – Seasonal bird ringer – National Aviary: Neighborhood Nestwatch program

  • Avian community censusing (ringing) and nature interpretation

2015 (April - May) – Seasonal bird ringing assistant – Powdermill Avian Research Center

  • Avian community censusing (ringing) and maintenance work

2014 (May - August) – Field Technician – Charles van Riper, Ph.D

  • Breeding season biology of Cordilleran flycatcher (Empidonax occidentalis), and avian community censusing (ringing, point-counts)

2013 (May - August) – Field Technician – Animas Biological Studies Inc.

  • Breeding season biology and population monitoring (ringing, re-sighting, nest-searching) of conservation-listed species, Gray Vireo (Vireo vicinior)

2012 (June - July) – Field and Lab Technician – Matthew Lattanzio, Ph.D

  • Field collection and laboratory tests with Ornate Tree Lizard (Urosaurus ornatus)
  • Performed independent research project on thermal physiology of Yarrow’s Spiny Lizard (Sceloparus jarrovii)

Standalone courses/training

2020-2021 – Inspire4Nature 4th Training Session - Virtual

2019 – Inspire4Nature 3rd Training Session “Theory and practice of assessing species extinction risk” – September - Sapienza Università di Roma, Italy -

2019 – AniMove – Animal Movement Analysis – 3-14 June – Yale University, United States -

2019 – Inspire4Nature 2nd Training Session – “Theory and practice of identifying globally important sites for biodiversity conservation” – April - Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR) -

2017 – Animal Movement Analysis – 2-7 July – University of Amsterdam, Netherlands

2017 – Ecology of Animal Migration – 16-27 October – Lund University, Sweden


2014 – Magna cum laude – Ohio University

2014 – Outstanding Graduating Senior – Ohio University Department of Biological Sciences

Other Work and Volunteer Experience

2016 (July) – Volunteer field assistant – Baltic Seabird Project

  • Common Guillemot (Uria aalge) breeding monitoring, and chick-ringing

2016 (July) – Volunteer field assistant – Ottenby Bird Observatory

  • Shorebird ringing, walk-in traps

2016, 2018 (July-August) – Volunteer field assistant – Lund University Vindel River Expedition (LUVRE)

  • Ringing, mist-netting

2014 (September - November) – Fall migration bird ringing: Rio Grande Valley Nature Center, Via del Oro National Wildlife Refuge, and Capilla Peak Observatory – Rio Grande Bird Research

  • Ringing, mist-netting

2014 (October) – Avian point count surveys for potential wind farm development in eastern New

Mexico – Aeolus Consulting Services

PhD project: Identifying Marine Key Biodiversity Areas using tracking data

Animal tracking data have proved to be a fundamental tool in marine conservation (Burger & Shaffer 2008). Along with at sea-surveys, tracking studies are the most important source of data to map the at-sea range of many pelagic species such as seabirds and marine mammals, an essential layer of information in Marine Spatial Planning exercises, or when identifying potential Marine Protected Areas (Lascelles et al.  2016; Dias et al. 2017; Wakefield et al. 2017).

However, analysing data collected from individual animals, and scaling that up to the population level, is a challenging exercise (e.g. Gutowsky et al. 2015). For example, seabirds from the same colony can choose distinctive sites to forage (between-individuals flexibility; e.g. Patrick et al. 2013), and even different individuals within a population can vary in the degree of faithfulness to their foraging sites (within-individuals flexibility; Dias et al. 2011, Wakefield et al. 2015). Recent evidence points to an extreme variability among species in this “flexible-consistent” axis of their foraging behaviour (Weimerskirch 2007, Wakefield et al. 2015). To understand this in practical conservation terms, we need to assess the consistency in site use at the population level, in multiple years and during different stages of the breeding cycle (e.g. Robertson et al. 2014), in order to evaluate whether site-based conservation efforts (that traditionally assume sites have static boundaries) are effectively covering the distribution of these species in the long term.

The project will use data from the Seabird Tracking Database, a major repository of data on marine birds currently covering more than 20.000 tracks, from >110 species at 250 breeding colonies. It will investigate the effectiveness of the current network of high priority sites in conserving seabirds given the highly dynamic nature of marine systems, and the will also derive recommendations for improving methods for identifying marine KBAs using tracking data.

The Seabird Tracking Database (BirdLife International;

The specific objectives of the project are:

  1. Investigating the effectiveness of the current network of important sites for marine biodiversity – Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs), Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and Ecologically or Biologically Significant Areas (EBSAs) – in conserving seabirds given the highly dynamic nature of marine systems.
  2. Testing whether particular indicator (umbrella) species can represent the conservation needs of other (less studied) species.
  3. Providing recommendations for the identification and designation of networks of marine PAs and KBAs that are robust to ecosystem dynamics.

The expected results of this project are 1) a protocol defining data requirements to delineate marine KBA boundaries that are robust to intra- and inter-seasonal dynamics, and 2) identifying which seabirds are most effective umbrella species for MPA designation.

These results will be used to inform conservation action under several conventions and agreements, such as those in the UNEP’s Regional Seas Programme (e.g. OSPAR, Barcelona and Abidjan Conventions), the Agreement for the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels and the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. It will also inform action towards Target 4 of the EU Biodiversity Strategy.


Beal, M., Oppel, S., Handley, J., Pearmain, E.J., Morera‐Pujol, V., Carneiro, A.P.B., Davies, T.E., Phillips, R.A., Taylor, P.R., Miller, M.G.R., Franco, A.M.A., Catry, I., Patrício, A.R., Regalla, A., Staniland, I., Boyd, C., Catry, P., Dias, M.P. (2021) track2KBA: An R package for identifying important sites for biodiversity from tracking data. Methods in Ecology and Evolution. Access repository

Beal, M., Dias, M.P., Phillips, R.A., Oppel, S., Hazin, C., Pearmain, E.J., Adams, J., Anderson, D.J., Antolos, M., Arata, J.A., Arcos, J.M., Arnould, J.P.Y., Awkerman, J., Bell, E., Bell, M., Carey, M., Carle, R., Clay, T.A., Cleeland, J., Colodro, V., Conners, M., Cruz-Flores, M., Cuthbert, R., Delord, K., Deppe, L., Dilley, B.J., Dinis, H., Elliott, G., De Felipe, F., Felis, J., Forero, M..G., Freeman, A., Fukuda, A., González-Solís, J., Granadeiro, J.P., Hedd, A., Hodum, P., Igual, J.M., Jaeger, A., Landers, T.J., Le Corre, M., Makhado, A., Metzger, B., Militão, T., Montevecchi, W.A.,  Morera-Pujol, V., Navarro-Herrero, L., Nel, D., Nicholls, D., Oro, D., Ouni, R., Ozaki, K., Quintana, F., Ramos, R., Reid, T., Reyes-González, J.M., Robertson, C., Robertson, G., Romdhane, M.S., Ryan, P.G., Sagar, P., Sato, F., Schoombie, S., Scofield, R.P., Shaffer, S.A., Shah, N.J., Stevens, K.L., Surman, C., Suryan, R.M., Takahashi, A., Tatayah, V., Taylor, G., Thompson, D.R., Torres, L., Walker, K., Wanless, R., Waugh, S.M., Weimerskirch, H., Yamamoto, T., Zajkova, Z., Zango, L., Catry, P. (2021) Global political responsibility for the conservation of albatrosses and large petrels. Science Advances 7,Open Access Repository

Beal, M., Oppel, S., Handley, J., Pearmain, L., Morera-Pujol, V., Miller, M., Taylor, P., Lascelles, B., Dias, M. (2020) BirdLifeInternational/track2kba: First Release.

Related references

  • Burger, A. & Shaffer, S.A. 2008. Application of Tracking and Data-Logging Technology in Research and Conservation of Seabirds. The Auk 125: 253-264.
  • Dias, M.P., Oppel, S., Bond, A.L., Carneiro, A.P.B., Cuthbert, R.J., et al. 2017. Using globally threatened pelagic birds to identify priority sites for marine conservation in the South Atlantic Ocean, Biological Conservation 211: 76-84.
  • Dias, M.P, Granadeiro, J.P., Phillips, R.A., Alonso, H. & Catry, P. 2011. Breaking the routine: individual Cory’s shearwaters shift winter destinations between hemispheres and across ocean basins. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 278: 1786-1793.
  • Gutowsky, S.E., Leonard, M.L., Conners, M.G., Shaffer, S.A. & Jonsen, I.D. 2015. Individual-level variation and higher-level interpretations of space use in wide-ranging species: an albatross case study of sampling effects. Frontiers in Marine Science 2:93.
  • Lascelles, B.G, Taylor, P., Miller, M., Dias, M.P., Oppel, S. et al. 2016. Applying global criteria to tracking data to define important areas for marine conservation. Diversity & Distributions 22: 422-431.
  • Patrick, S.C., Bearhop, S., Grémillet, D., Lescroël, A., Grecian, W.J., et al. 2013. Individual differences in searching behaviour and spatial foraging consistency in a central place marine predator. Oikos 123: 33-40
  • Robertson, G.S., Bolton, M., Grecian, W.J. & Monaghan, P. 2014. Inter‑ and intra‑year variation in foraging areas of breeding kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla). Marine Biology 161:1973–1986.
  • Wakefield, E.D., Cleasby, I.R., Bearhop, S., Bodey, T.W., Davies, R.D.D, et al. 2015. Long-term individual foraging site fidelity—why some gannets don’t change their spots. Ecology 96:3058–3074.
  • Wakefield, E.D., Owen, E., Baer, J., Carroll, M.J., Daunt, F., et al. 2017. Breeding density, fine-scale tracking, and large-scale modelling reveal the regional distribution of four seabird species. Ecological Applications. 27, 2074–2091. doi:10.1002/eap.1591
  • Weimerskirch, H. 2007. Are seabirds foraging for unpredictable resources? Deep-Sea Research II 54: 211–223.


Academic Host

ISPA - Instituto Universitário
Lisbon, Portugal
Paulo Catry


BirdLife International
Cambridge, UK
Maria Dias
Paul F. Donald
Stu Butchart


Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Sandy, UK
Steffen Oppel
British Antarctic Survey
Cambridge, UK
Richard Phillips