Doctoral Students

Marie-Sophie Garcia-Heras

Marie-Sophie Garcia-Heras
MSc (Universite Aix-Marseille)

John Day Building: 2.20
Tel: +27 (0)21 650 3310
Fax: +27 (0)21 650 3295


During her studies, Marie-Sophie developed a special interest in ecology and conservation biology. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Paul-Cézanne Aix-Marseille III (France) and followed this up with an MSc in Ecology (2009-2011), with a specific focus on biodiversity management. Marie-Sophie’s Masters research was conducted at the Biological Station of Doñana (Sevilla, Spain) in the Conservation Biology Department, supervised by J.A. Donázar. Her project formed part of a long term study on the endangered Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) population on the Canarian Archipelago, in which she specifically studied the effects of supplementary feeding stations on the breeding population at the individual scale.

When she graduated with her Masters, Marie-Sophie decided that she wanted to take her studies further afield to South Africa. She took the opportunity of working as a field assistant on a postdoctoral project at Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park (HiP) where she assisted Dr. Moleón Marcos in his project of assessing the impact of top predators on savanna ecology (i.e. relationship between scavengers and carrion consumption). After this fantastic and fascinating experience, Marie-Sophie enrolled for a PhD at the FitzPatrick Institute, to study the threatened population of Black Harriers.

Thesis (submitted January 2017)

Environmental factors influencing the breeding and health of a predator endemic to southern Africa: the endangered Black Harrier Circus maurus. (Supervisors: Rob Simmons, Arjun Amar, Beatriz Arroyo and François Mougeot)

Marie-Sophie's research will fill knowledge gaps in order to better understand the influence of extrinsic factors (habitat, prey, pathogens, weather) on Black Harrier´s abundance and distribution, on its reproduction, health status and movements, and to propose conservation actions aiming to ensure that this species is sustainable in the long term.

Peer-reviewed publications

Garcia-Heras, M-S., Arroyo, B., Simmons, R.E., Camarero, P.R., Mateo, R. and Mougeot, F. 2018. Blood concentrations of PCBs and DDTs in an avian predator endemic to southern Africa: associations with habitat, electrical transformers and diet. Environmental Pollution 232:440-449

García-Heras, M-S., Arroyo, B., Simmons, R.E., Camarero, P.R., Mateo, R., García, J.T., Mougeot, F. 2017. Pollutants and diet influence carotenoid levels and integument coloration in nestlings of an endangered raptor. Science of the Total Environment 603-604: 299-307.

García-Heras, M-S., Mougeot, F., Simmons, R.E., and Arroyo, B. 2017. Regional and temporal variations in diet and provisioning rates suggest weather limits prey availability for an endangered raptor. Ibis 159: 567-579.

Garcia-Heras, M-S., Arroyo, B., Mougeot, F., Amar, A. and Simmons, R.E. 2016. Does timing of breeding matter less where the grass is greener? Seasonal declines in breeding performance differ between regions in an endangered endemic raptor. Nature Conservation 15: 23-45.

Garcia-Heras, M-S., Mougeot, F., Arroyo, B., Avery, G., Avery, M. and Simmons, R.E. 2016. Is the Black Harrier Circus maurus a specialist predator? Assessing the diet of a threatened raptor species endemic to southern Africa. Ostrich.

García-Heras, M.S., Cortés-Avizanda, A. & Donázar, J.A. 2013. Who are we feeding? Asymmetric individual use of surplus food resources in an insular population of the endangered Egyptian vulture Neophron percnopterus. PlosONE 8(11): e80523.