Fernando Diaz-Aguirre


School of Biological Sciences
Flinders University
GPO Box 2100, Adelaide, South Australia, 5001
Email: fernando.diaz@flinders.edu.au

PhD Project

Social dynamics and genetic structure of Burrunan dolphins (Tursiops australis).

Delphinids are known to possess complex patterns of social groupings. But how ecological and intrinsic factors have shaped the evolution of social systems is still a very challenging question. My PhD research will basically examine the social dynamics and genetic relatedness of the Burrunan dolphin (Tursiops australis) inhabiting Coffin Bay and adjacent areas. Specifically, I will analyse the temporal (inter-annual, seasonal) and dimensional (behaviour) dynamics of the social organization at multiple social levels (dyads, ego, population) using quantitative analyses of social networks and examine how the resulting patterns correlate with the  sex, age and relatedness of the individuals. In addition, I will test for the presence of social  personality types in wild dolphin societies examining the consistency in network positions of  individuals across different contexts (time, behaviour) using centrality measures inferred by quantitative analyses of social networks.


Dr. Luciana Möller and Dr. Guido J. Parra.


Hola! My name is Fernando and I was born and raised in the beautiful country of Chile. My main research interests are on the behavioural ecology, social organization, population genetics and conservation of cetaceans. My experience in cetacean research dates back to 2003 when I started collaborating in different projects related with the behaviour and ecology of common bottlenose dolphins, Chilean dolphins and fin whales. After participating in these projects, I realized how amazing was to be at sea sampling and trying to understand the life of these beautiful and intelligent mammals, so I decided to start a monitoring program on the occurrence of cetaceans off the central coast of Chile for my master’s thesis in Marine Biology. I worked as a research leader on this project that ended up focusing mainly on the behavioral ecology of a population of common bottlenose dolphins that inhabited the area.

In late 2012, I was fortunate to join for my PhD studies the very cool Cetacean Ecology Behaviour and Evolution Lab at the School of Biological Sciences of Flinders University. Here, my PhD research will basically examine the socio-genetic structure of the recently described Burrunan dolphin (Tursiops australis) and also will try to unravel new aspects of the social dynamics at multiple dimensional levels and social personality types of wild dolphin societies using a wide arrange of quantitative analyses of social networks.


  • 2012-ongoing. PhD Student. Flinders University, Australia.
  • 2011. MSc. in Marine Biology. Cum Laude Distinction. Universidad Andres Bello, Chile.
  • 2008. BSc. (Honours) in Marine Biology. Distinction, Academic Excellence Award. Universidad Andres Bello, Chile.
  • 2007. BSc. in Marine Sciences. Distinction. Universidad Andres Bello, Chile.


School of Biological Sciences, Flinders University

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