Doctoral students

Ben Dilley

Ben Dilley
BSc (Hons) UCT


After a few years research in Etosha, Namibia, Ben worked for the BBC NHU for Planet Earth and Life before heading south to Marion Island in 2009-10. In 2011, Ben completed a BSc Hons at UCT, spending his spare time in the Karoo catching enigmatic Ludwig’s Bustards. After a second year on Marion (2012-13), a year on Gough (2014-15) and a summer on Tristan da Cunha and Nightingale (2015-16), Ben spent another summer on Nightingale Island working on Wilkins’ Buntings (2017-18). Ben’s primary interest is the long term monitoring of seabirds on sub-Antarctic Islands with a focus on how introduced mammals effect these seabird populations.

Thesis title

The effects of introduced mice on seabirds breeding on sub-Antarctic islands (Supervisor: Peter Ryan)

Recent peer reviewed publications


Brooke, M.D.L., Bonnaud, E., Dilley, B.J., Flint, E.N., Holmes, N.D., Jones, H.P., Provost, P., Rocamora, G., Ryan, P.G., Surman, C. and Buxton, R.T. 2018 Enhancing the value of future island eradications needs improved understanding of past outcomes. Animal Conservation 21(1), 19-20.

Brooke, M.d.L., Bonnaud, E., Dilley, B.J., Flint, E.N., Holmes, N.D., Jones, H.P., Provost, P., Rocamora, G., Ryan, P.G., Surman, C., and Buxton, R.T. 2018. Seabird population changes following mammal eradications on islands. Animal Conservation 21: 3-12.

Preston, G.R., Dilley, B.J., Cooper, J., et al. and Ryan, P.G. 2018. A plan of action to eradicate introduced house mice on South Africa’s sub-Antarctic Marion Island. In Veitch, D. (Ed.). Proceedings of the Third Island Invasives Conference, Dundee, July 2017. IUCN, Gland.

Reisinger, R.R., Raymond, B., Hindell, M.A., Bester, M.N., Crawford, R.J.M., Davies, D., de Bruyn, P.J., Dilley, B.J., Kirkman, S.P., Makhado, A.B., Ryan, P.G., Schoombie, S., Stevens, K., Sumner, M.D., Tosh, C.A., Wege, M., Whitehead, T.O., Wotherspoon, S. and Pistorius, P.A. 2018 Habitat modelling of tracking data from multiple marine predators identifies important areas in the Southern Indian Ocean. Diversity and Distributions 1–16.

Rollinson, D.P., Dilley, B.J., Davies, D. and Ryan, P.G. in press. Year-round movements of white-chinned petrels from Marion Island, southwestern Indian Ocean. Antarctic Science


Dilley, B.J., Davies, D., Schramm, M., Connan, M. and Ryan, P.G. 2017. The distribution and abundance of Blue Petrels Halobaena caerulea breeding at subantarctic Marion Island. Emu - Austral Ornithology 117(3), 222-232

Dilley, B.J., Schoombie, S., Stevens, K., Davies, D., Perold, V., Osborne, A., Schoombie, J., Brink, C.W., Carpenter-Kling, T. and Ryan, P.G. 2017 Mouse predation affects breeding success of burrow-nesting petrels at sub-Antarctic Marion Island. Antarctic Science 1-12.

Schoombie, S., Schoombie, J., Oosthuizen, A., Suleman, E., Jones, M.G.W., Pretorius, L., Dilley, B.J., and Ryan, P.G. 2017. Avian pox in seabirds on Marion Island, southern Indian Ocean. Antarctic Science.

Schoombie, S., Dilley, B.J., Davies, D., Glass, T. and Ryan, P.G. 2017. The distribution of breeding Sooty Albatrosses from the three most important breeding sites: Gough, Tristan and the Prince Edward Islands. Emu 117(2), 160-169.


Dilley, B.J., Schoombie, S., Schoombie, J. and Ryan, P.G. 2016. ‘Scalping’ of albatross fledglings by introduced mice spreads rapidly at Marion Island. Antarctic Science 28, 73-80.

Dilley, B.J., Schramm, M. and Ryan, P.G. 2016. Modest increases in densities of burrow-nesting petrels following the removal of cats Felis catus from Marion Island. Polar Biology 3(40), 625-637.


Jones, M.G.W., Hagens, Q., Louw, H., Mertz, E., Visser, P., Dilley, B.J. and Ryan, P.G. 2016. Wandering Albatross Diomedea exulans breeding phenology at Marion Island. Polar Biology 5(40), 1139-1148.

Rollinson, D.P., Dilley, B.J., Davies, D. and Ryan, P.G. 2016. Diving behavior of Grey Petrels and its relevance for mitigating long-line by-catch. EMU Austral Ornithology 116(4): 340-349.

Pichegru, L., Edwards, T.B., Dilley, B.J. and Ryan, P.G. 2016. African penguin tolerance to humans depends on historical exposure at colony level. Bird Conservation International


Dilley, B.J., Davies, D., Bond, A.L. and Ryan, P.G. 2015. Effects of mouse predation on burrowing petrel chicks at Gough Island. Antarctic Science 27:543-553.

Davies, D., Dilley, B.J., Bond, A.L., Cuthbert, R.J. and Ryan, P.G. 2015. Trends and tactics of mouse predation on Tristan Albatross Diomedea dabbenena chicks at Gough Island, South Atlantic Ocean. Avian Conversation and Ecology 10:5.

Torres, L.G., Sutton, P.J., Thompson, D.R., Delord, K., Weimerskirch, H., Sagar, P.M., Sommer, E., Dilley, B.J., Ryan, P.G. and Phillips, R.A. 2015. Poor transferability of species distribution models for a pelagic predator, the grey petrel, indicates contrasting habitat preferences across ocean basins. PLoS ONE 10(3):e0120014

Ryan, P.G., Dilley, B.J., Jones, C. and Bond, A.L. 2014. Blue Petrels Halobaena caerulea discovered breeding on Gough Island. Ostrich 89: 193-194.

Jones, M.G.W., Dilley, B.J., Hagens, Q.A., Louw, H., Mertz, E.M., Visser, P., Ryan, P.G. 2014. The effect of parental age, experience and historical reproductive success on wandering albatross chick growth and survival. Polar Biology 37:1633-1644.

Rollinson, D.P., Dilley, B.J. and Ryan, P.G. 2014. Diving behaviour of White-chinned Petrels and its relevance for mitigating longline bycatch. Polar Biology 37:1301-1308.

Ryan, P.G., Bourgeois, K., Dromzée, S. and Dilley, B.J. 2014. The occurrence of two bill morphs of prions Pachyptila vittata on Gough Island. Polar Biology 37:727-735.

Shaw, J.M., Dilley, B.J., Davies, D. and Ryan, P.G. 2013. Trapping and capture myopathy in Ludwig's Bustard. South African Journal of Wildlife Research 44:16-23.

Dilley, B.J. 2013. Living on the edge: Sooty Albatross chick killed by a Northern Giant Petrel. Biodiversity Observations 4:138-142.

Dilley, B.J., Davies, D., Connan, M., Cooper, J., de Villiers, M., Swart, L., Vandenabeele, S., Ropert-Coudert, Y. and Ryan, P.G. 2013. Giant petrels as predators of albatross chicks. Polar Biology 36:761-766.

Ryan, P.G., Dilley, B.J. and Jones, M.G.W. 2012. The distribution and abundance of White-chinned Petrels Procellaria aequinoctialis breeding at the sub-Antarctic Prince Edward Islands. Polar Biology 35:1851-1859.