The Robert May Prize is awarded annually to the best paper published in Methods by a young author at the start of their research career. We’re delighted to announce that the 2012 winner is Sarah Papworth from Imperial Collage London, for her article “Movement ecology of human resource users: using net squared displacement, biased random bridges and resource utilization functions to quantify hunter and gatherer behaviour”. Although GPS trackers can rapidly collect vast amounts of data on animal movement, appropriate methods for analysing this data are still being developed. The paper describes a methodological framework for the analysis of GPS track records of foragers which routinely return to a central place after foraging, such as a den or nest. The framework combines three existing methods in a flexible method for the accurate description of resource use and movement in humans and animals. This approach will be particularly useful for our understanding of human resource extraction and conservation planning.
Sarah studied a BA Honours in Anthropology at the University of Durham, which focused on human and primate behaviour. This lead to an interest in field biology in the tropics, and she went on to study blue monkeys in Uganda. She then completed an MSc in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation, and a PhD in Conservation Science, at Imperial College London, supervised by E.J. Milner-Gulland and Katie Slocombe (University of York). Her PhD focused on human and primate behaviour within the context of hunting by the Waorani of Amazonian Ecuador, and involved extensive fieldwork. Data collected for her PhD were used to illustrate the methodological framework developed in the Robert M. May prize-winning paper. She has just moved to Singapore, where she is currently a research fellow focusing on poverty and biodiversity at the National University of Singapore.
In addition to the above winner, the following young authors have been highly commended for their innovative articles:
– Brett Favaro from the Marine Ecology Lab, for his article “TrapCam: an inexpensive camera system for studying deep-water animals“, which is accompanied by a video demonstrating the construction of the TrapCam apparatus.
– David Jacoby from the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, for his article “Developing a deeper understanding of animal movements and spatial dynamics through novel application of network analyses“.
The above 3 articles will be included in a free virtual issue this year, along with all of the winning and short-listed articles from the other 4 British Ecological Society journals young investigator prizes.