The Elton Prize is awarded by the British Ecological Society each year for the best paper in the Journal of Animal Ecology written by a young author at the start of their research career. The winner of the Elton Prize 2011 is Philip Matich, a Marine Sciences doctoral candidate in Dr. Michael Heithaus's lab. The winning paper entitled, "Contrasting patterns of individual specialization and trophic coupling in two marine apex predators" is co-authored with Dr. Heithaus and Dr. Craig Layman.
Philip's research interests focus on the roles animals play within their ecosystems and how changes in biotic and abiotic factors can influence the spatiotemporal pattern of predator effects. He is currently investigating the habitat use and foraging ecology of juvenile bull sharks (Carcharhinus leucas) in the Shark River Slough (Florida Coastal Everglades) using acoustic telemetry, stable isotope analysis, and predator and prey sampling. The main objective of this project is to understand the factors responsible for driving shark foraging and movement decisions, and how spatial and temporal variation in these factors may affect the role of bull sharks in the ecosystem.