Interdisciplinary Conservation Network 2020/2021

1st September 2020 – 9th April 2021


Online and Oxford, UK

1st Sep, 2020 – 1st Apr, 2021 (virtually)
7th Apr – 9th Apr 2021 (in-person)

Apply here
Application deadline: 12 August 2020


The Interdisciplinary Conservation Network (ICN) is a bi-annual workshop that provides a select group of early-career researchers with a unique opportunity to produce a collaborative piece of research, take part in skill-building sessions, and develop global networks with fellow early career researchers. ICN 2020-21 is organised by the University of Oxford’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science (ICCS) and Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU), and the Oxford Brookes University Wildlife Trade Research Group. See here ( for more information.

ICN 2020-21

The new ICN 2020-21 workshop structure includes a series of virtual collaborative meetings from September 2020 till April 2021, followed by a 3-day in-person event (7-9th April 2021) in Oxford, United Kingdom.

The workshop’s primary goal is to support attendees in carrying out their own collaborative pieces of research. These research projects relate to the following themes:

Each theme’s team of collaborators will consist of eight early career researchers (at the level of PhD, early post-doc, or equivalent working experience), and one or two senior mentors.

The virtual meetings may take the format of three or four half-day conference calls. The in-person event will be an active three days inclusive of research-skills and career-building sessions and keynote speakers. Attendees are expected to actively participate in both the virtual meetings and the in-person event.

In-person event costs and what’s included

During the in-person event, we will provide accommodation and breakfast for non-Oxford based attendees, as well as lunches and dinners for all attendees. This includes lunchtime Wednesday, 7th April 2021, through till breakfast Saturday, 10th April 2021. Attendees who have scholarships or other funding will be asked to contribute £70 to support the event. Those that do not have funding can request a fee waiver. Additionally, up to six total bursaries will be available to support travel expenses for international attendees.

We are moving forward under the assumption that this in-person event will be possible to carry-out. However, given the present uncertainties, we will have to be flexible.

ICN themes

A reflexive turn in conservation?

This theme is led by Thomas Pienkowski (ICCS) and Laur Kiik (ICCS).

A growing number of studies have turned the conservation science lens onto conservationists themselves. For instance, studies are looking at the perspectives, values, and motives of those in conservation 1,2. Thus, conservation seems to be gaining reflexivity – “the capacity of an agent, structure or process to change in the light of reflection on its performance” 3.

Is conservation becoming more reflexive? If so, who is doing the self-reflection, why, and what are the implications for biodiversity protection? These questions will be explored during the workshop, culminating in a peer-reviewed perspective piece.

Within this theme, we are looking for early-career individuals working or researching in conservation practice. Applicants who have been involved in reflection exercises within their organisations are encouraged to apply. Organisations who have conducted reflection exercises, and who could co-sponsor attendees’ visits, are also encouraged to contact Thomas Pienkowski (

A framework for studying online wildlife trade: challenges and opportunities

This theme is led by Thais Morcatty (Oxford Brookes University), Shan Su (WildCRU) and Penthai Siriwat (Oxford Brookes University).

Wildlife trade is a serious conservation challenge and in more recent years, the trade has been shifting from physical to online markets. However, the information on methods to obtain data on online wildlife trade is still diffuse in the literature.

In this theme, we will gather and discuss the main methodological approaches for recording online wildlife trade, considering the challenges posed by different online platforms and contexts. We will assess ethical considerations as well as applicability, strengths, limitations and bias related to each method and platform used. Through the course of the workshop, we will develop a framework for the main methods suitable for recording online trade instances in order to improve the data quality and maximize the sampling effort.

Are welcome to join this theme early-career academics (MSc/MRes, PhD or post-doc) or practitioners in the field of biodiversity conservation, wildlife crime, or information technology with minimum knowledge on, or experiences in, online wildlife trade.

Illegal wildlife trade and human-felid conflict: a framework for evaluating linkages in the big-cat trade

This theme is led by Peter Coals (WildCRU) and Melissa Arias (ICCS).

Trade is well-recognised as a cause of population decline in a number of species of large felids and is an emerging threat in others. However, linking traded volumes of big-cat parts and targeted killing of big-cats is not simple and may be fraught with complications and uncertainties. Notably, trade is not the only motivator of targeted killings of big-cats; in particular, human-felid conflict is also a major cause.

In this theme we shall explore linkages between human-felid conflict and the trade in big-cat parts; developing a framework for the evaluation of killing of big-cats focussed on discerning links between the provision of felid products into trade and other non-trade motivations.

Through the course of the extended workshop we will be identifying potential barriers to assessing trade-related killings and discussing methodologies for overcoming them. We seek early-career researchers and conservation practitioners who can provide insights, based on personal experience, of wildlife trade investigations and/or human-felid conflict.

Call for Theme Applicants

Are you an early career researcher (PhD student, early postdoc, or equivalent working experience) wanting to collaborate and network with others in conservation science?

Apply here by 12th August, 2020

Please contact Melissa Arias ( with any questions or concerns.


1 Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science (ICCS). (2020) Life in Conservation.

2 Sandbrook C., Fisher J.A., Holmes G., Luque-Lora R., Keane A. (2019) The global conservation movement is diverse but not divided. Nature Sustainability 2, 316-323.

3 Pickering J. (2019) Ecological reflexivity: Characterising an elusive virtue for governance in the Anthropocene. Environmental Politics 28, 1145-1166.