Laura Williamson

Laura Williamson



Mailing address: Zoology Building, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, AB24 2TZ

PhD title: Spatio-temporal variation in harbour porpoise distribution and activity

Supervisors: Paul Thompson (, Beth Scott (, Kate Brookes

Keywords: harbor porpoise, species distribution modelling, passive acoustic monitoring, video surveys, GAM, INLA

Start and end date of the PhD: October 2014-March 2018


Laura is a PhD student funded by the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology Scotland (MASTS) and the University of Aberdeen.  Based at the University of Aberdeen in collaboration with the Lighthouse Field Station and Marine Scotland Science.  Her project aims to investigate the spatio-temporal variation in harbour porpoise distribution.  She is performing species distribution modelling using acoustic detections from C-PODs, aerial video survey data and fine-scale oceanographic data to determine fine-scale factors that influence harbour porpoise distribution and activity.


Gave lectures for:

  • Advanced Spatial Information Analysis
  • Species Distribution Modelling
  • Marine Spatial Management and Top Predators
  • Marine Mammals and Noise

Demonstrated for:

Postgraduate level:

  • An Introduction to R
  • An Introduction to Statistical Modelling with R

Masters level:

  • Introduction to R
  • Population Ecology
  • Introduction to Bayesian Inference
  • Introduction to GIS
  • Advances Spatial Information Analysis
  • Marine Spatial Management and Top Predators

Undergraduate level:

  • Statistical Analysis of Biological Data
  • Animal Population Ecology
  • Ecology

Selected publications:

Williamson, LD., Brookes, KL., Scott, BE., Graham, IM., Bradbury, G., Hammond, PS. & Thompson, PM. (2016). ‘Echolocation detections and digital video surveys provide reliable estimates of the relative density of harbour porpoises’. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, vol 7, no. 7, pp. 762-769. DOI:
DOI: 10.1111/2041-210X.12538

Williamson, LD., Hudson, M., O’Connell, M., Davidson, N., Young, R., Amano, T. & Szekely, T. (2013). ‘Areas of high diversity for the world’s inland-breeding waterbirds’. Biodiversity and Conservation, vol 22, no. 6, pp. 1501-1512. DOI:
DOI: 10.1007/s10531-013-0488-2