Ms Sara Tavares

Postgraduate Student

Bute B5
tel. 01334 463607
fax. 01334 463366

I am a PhD student supported by the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT). I am affiliated with the Scottish Ocean Institute (SOI) and Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU). My research area is marine biology and I’m particularly interested in studying the behaviour and sociality of marine mammals.

The main focus of my PhD thesis is the sociality of the Icelandic killer whale (Orcinus orcapopulation. I’m studying the social structure of the population using photo-identification (photo-ID) and genetics. My goal is to describe the social organization of the Icelandic killer whale population, examine the dynamics of social networks among individuals and assess how relatedness affects relationships in this population.


Current projects

Icelandic orcas

I’m an investigator in the Icelandic orca project ( Our research focuses on the social and foraging behaviour of orcas while monitoring which individuals can be regularly seen in Iceland to gain a better understanding of the population size and status.



Tavares, S.B., Magalhães, A. & de Sousa, L., 2015. Labrador retrievers are more attracted to water than to social stimuli: A pilot study. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 10(6), pp.465–470. Available at:



Jourdain, EM, Samarra, FIP, Tavares, SB & Karoliussen, RE 2017, 'Incidence of Probable Vertebral Column Deformities in Norwegian and Icelandic Killer Whales (Orcinus orca)' Aquatic Mammals, vol. 43, no. 6, pp. 682-690. DOI: 10.1578/AM.43.6.2017.682
Samarra, FIP, Tavares, SB, Béesau, J, Deecke, VB, Fennell, A, Miller, PJO, Pétursson, H, Sigurjónsson, J & Víkingsson, GA 2017, 'Movements and site fidelity of killer whales (Orcinus orca) relative to seasonal and long-term shifts in herring (Clupea harengus) distribution' Marine Biology, vol. 164, 159. DOI: 10.1007/s00227-017-3187-9
Tavares, SB, Samarra, FIP & Miller, PJO 2017, 'A multilevel society of herring-eating killer whales indicates adaptation to prey characteristics' Behavioral Ecology, vol. 28, no. 2, pp. 500-514. DOI: 10.1093/beheco/arw179
Ms Sara Tavares
Bute Building
University of St Andrews
St Andrews
KY16 9TS

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