Dr Nikki Zanardo

PhD supervisors: A/Prof Luciana Möller and Dr Guido Parra

I have always been quite fond of nature and at a young age I developed a strong passion for marine mammals. I believe that this can be attributed to growing up in Adelaide, with the Port River dolphins in such close reach. It is this passion that lead me to study marine biology at Flinders University, where I began to focus my attention on the conservational aspect of research. Fortunately, I was able to undertake an honours project investigating the social-genetic structure of short-beaked common dolphins in South Australia. This project enhanced my appreciation for genetics based research, an aspect of biology I had previously not considered.


Currently, my passion for marine mammals is being heartened through research on the Burrunan dolphins inhabiting the Adelaide metropolitan coastline. This project aims to investigate the ecology and social structure of this newly endemic species. I will use a combination of methods including boat-based surveys, photo-identification and biopsy sampling to determine dolphin distribution, abundance, habitat use and social structure. The study will provide essential information for the conservation and management of the population inhabiting Adelaide’s metropolitan area, where strategies can be implemented to ensure the long term viability of the dolphins within this urban coastal environment.

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Research Project 

Ecology and social structure of endemic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops australis) in metropolitan Adelaide

 Research Experience

– 2011 Honours project: Socio-genetic structure of common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) in South Australian waters.


-Zanardo N, Bilgmann K, Parra GJ, Möller LM (2016) Socio-genetic structure of short-beaked common dolphins in Southern Australia. Journal of Zoology In press

 -Bilgmann K, Parra GJ, Zanardo N, Beheregaray LB, Möller LM (2014) Multiple management units of short-beaked common dolphins subject to fisheries by-catch off southern and southeastern Australia.  Marine Ecology Progress Series 500, 265-279.