I am a conservation biologist with broad, interdisciplinary interests that range from spatial conservation prioritisation for the Sunda clouded leopard in Borneo, through conservation ethics to the impact of socio-political and economic factors on the likelihood of conservation success. I have long held an interest in how people relate to conservation issues and during my DPhil I developed a strong interest in the psychology of behaviour change and its application to conservation, my desire to learn from existing experts in the field of marketing led me to develop collaborations first with a commercial market research firm (Touchstone Partners), and more recently with the Future of Marketing Initiative at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School where I am now based.
Understanding people’s behaviour, and the attitudes that influence their actions, is a prerequisite for wildlife conservation. The principles of marketing and consumer psychology can arguably be applied to conservation, and conservation can learn much from these disciplines.
My work is an innovative collaboration between conservation biologists and marketing scholars where we systematically apply social marketing principles to conservation problems for the benefit of biodiversity. Currently, my primary projects focus on how we can apply these principles to conflicts with fruit bats in Mauritius, as well as conflict prone species (such as lions, elephants and hyena) in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe.
My project focuses on Mauritian fruit bats and other endemic Mauritian wildlife as a case study to explore (a) what factors shape people’s attitudes towards bats, (b) how marketing approaches can be used to improve people’s attitudes towards bats and other threatened endemic species, and (c) how peoples’ relationship to widely used personality domains and moral foundations relate to their attitudes towards conservation policy.
The goals of this project are: to demonstrate the benefits of applying marketing persuasion principles to conservation problems, to develop an inter-disciplinary theoretical framework for conservation marketing and to reduce the threat to Mauritian fruit bats by improving local attitudes towards them.
Charismatic megafauna such as elephants, lions and other large carnivores benefit from near universal popularity among people in wealthy, developed economies (Macdonald et al. 2015). This has a major influence on the practices and priorities of donor funded conservation organisations, however, the same megafauna frequently come into conflict with people, often those living in the most vulnerable communities. To these people lions and elephants may not be emblems of pride and strength but tangible and dangerous pests.
Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, is home to around 500 lions making it one of only six remaining viable lion populations in the world, it also supports globally important populations of elephants and many other species. The national park is bordered by both commercial hunting concessions and communal village lands that are home to economically deprived communities that are dependent on subsistence agriculture and cattle herding (itself a culturally important practice) for survival.
Species such as lion and elephant often come into conflict with these local people through crop raiding or the predation of cattle. For example, lions kill around 150 cattle each year ($50,000) which leads to the local community killing around 25 lions in retaliation each year.
My work in Zimbabwe aims to understand and bridge this gap between the international demand for the conservation of charismatic, but conflict prone megafauna, and the needs and desires of the local communities who have to live alongside these species.
Macdonald, E. A., M. Collins, P. J. Johnson, L. M. Clayton, Y. Malhi, J. B. Fisher, E. J. Milner-Gulland and D. W. Macdonald (2011). “Wildlife conservation and reduced emissions from deforestation in a case study of Nantu National Park, Sulawesi: 1. The effectiveness of forest protection—many measures, one goal.” Environmental Science & Policy 14(6): 697-708.
Collins, M., Macdonald, E.A., Clayton, L., Dunggio, I., Macdonald, D.W. & Milner-Gulland, E.J. (2011) Wildlife conservation and reduced emissions from deforestation in a case study of Nantu Wildlife Reserve, Sulawesi: 2. An institutional framework for REDD implementation. Environmental Science & Policy, 14(6): 709–718.
Collins, M.B., Milner-Gulland, E.J., Macdonald, E.A. & Macdonald, D.W. (2011) Pleiotropy and charisma determine winners and losers in the REDD+ game: all biodiversity is not equal. Tropical Conservation Science, 4(3): 261–266.
Dickman, A.J., Macdonald, E.A. & Macdonald, D.W. (2011) A review of financial instruments to pay for predator conservation and encourage human–carnivore coexistence. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(34): 13937–13944.
Barros, A.E. De, Macdonald, E.A., Matsumoto, M.H., Paula, R.C., Nijhawan, S., Malhi, Y., et al. (2014) Identification of areas in Brazil that optimize conservation of forest carbon, jaguars, and biodiversity. Conservation Biology, 28(2): 580–593.
Dickman, A.J., Hinks, A.E., Macdonald, E.A., Burnham, D. & Macdonald, D.W. (2015) Priorities for global felid conservation. Conservation Biology, 29(3): 854–864.
Macdonald, E.A., Burnham, D., Hinks, A.E., Dickman, A.J., Malhi, Y. & Macdonald, D.W. (2015) Conservation inequality and the charismatic cat: Felis felicis. Global Ecology and Conservation, 3(0): 851–866.
Sandom, C. J., J. Williams, D. Burnham, A. J. Dickman, A. E. Hinks, E. A. Macdonald and D. W. Macdonald (2017). “Deconstructed cat communities: Quantifying the threat to felids from prey defaunation.” Diversity and Distributions: 1-13.
Lindsey, P. A., G. Chapron, L. S. Petracca, D. Burnham, M. W. Hayward, P. Henschel, A. E. Hinks, S. T. Garnett, D. W. Macdonald, E. A. Macdonald, W. J. Ripple, K. Zander and A. Dickman (2017). “Relative efforts of countries to conserve world’s megafauna.” Global Ecology and Conservation 10: 243-252. Covered by the Economist magazine here
Sandom, C. J., S. Faurby, J. C. Svenning, D. Burnham, A. Dickman, A. Hinks, E. A. Macdonald, B. Ripple, J. Williams and D. Macdonald (2017). “Learning from the past to prepare for the future: Felids face continued threat from declining prey richness.” Ecography. Covered by the BBC here.
Cushman, S.A., E.A. Macdonald [joint first author],E. L. Landguth, Y. Malhi and D. W. Macdonald (2017). “Multiple-scale prediction of forest loss risk across Borneo.” Landscape Ecology: 1-18. Covered by Oxford University and US Forest Service news pages.
Trouwborst, A., M. Lewis, D. Burnham, A. Dickman, A. Hinks, T. Hodgetts, E. A. Macdonald and D. W. Macdonald (2017). “International law and lions (Panthera leo): understanding and improving the contribution of wildlife treaties to the conservation and sustainable use of an iconic carnivore.” Nature Conservation 21.
Macdonald, E. A., A. E. Hinks, D. Weiss, A. Dickman, D. Burnham, C. Sandom, Y. Malhi and D. Macdonald (2017). “Identifying Ambassadors for conservation marketing.” Global Ecology and Conservation 12: 204-214.
Vucetich, J.A, Burnham, D., Macdonald, E.A, Bruskotter, J.T, Marchini, S., Zimmermann, A. and D.W. Macdonald (2018) Just conservation: what is it and should we pursue it? Biol. Cons.
Kuiper, T., A. Dickman, A. Hinks, C. Sillero-Zubiri, E. A. Macdonald and D. W. Macdonald (2018). “Combining ecological and socio-political criteria to set conservation priorities for the endangered African wild dog.” Animal Conservation.
Hodgetts, T., D. Burnham, A. Dickman, M. Lewis, E. A. Macdonald, A. Trouwborst and D. W. Macdonald (2018). “Improving the role of global conservation treaties in addressing contemporary threats to lions.” Biodiversity and Conservation.
Vucetich, J. A., Burnham, D., Macdonald, E.A., Bruskotter, J. T., Marchini, S., Zimmermann, A. & Macdonald, D.W. 2018. Authority, cultural relativism and the principles of just conservation: Rejoinder to Pooley and Redpath (2018). Biological Conservation, 223, 184-185.
Macdonald, E. A., S. A. Cushman, E. L. Landguth, A. J. Hearn, Y. Malhi and D. W. Macdonald (2018). “Simulating impacts of rapid forest loss on population size, connectivity and genetic diversity of Sunda clouded leopards (Neofelis diardi) in Borneo.” PLOS ONE 13(9): e0196974.
Hearn, A. J., S. A. Cushman, B. Goossens, E. A. Macdonald, J. Ross, L. T. B. Hunter, N. K. Abram and D. W. Macdonald (2018). “Evaluating scenarios of landscape change for Sunda clouded leopard connectivity in a human dominated landscape.” Biological Conservation 222: 232-240.
Macdonald, D. W., H. M. Bothwell, A. J. Hearn, S. M. Cheyne, I. Haidir, L. T. B. Hunter, Ż. Kaszta, M. Linkie, E. A. Macdonald, J. Ross and S. A. Cushman (2018). “Multi-scale habitat selection modeling identifies threats and conservation opportunities for the Sunda clouded leopard (Neofelis diardi).” Biological Conservation 227: 92-103.