Zoology Research Fellow
I am a wildlife biologist and have been with the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit since 1996. I work on wildlife trade, the role of social media in trade and other conservation issues, reintroductions and management of small carnivores in human-modified landscapes.
Most of my work has been field-based but as the scope of conservation research has evolved I have increasingly used meta-analysis and systematic review methods to address broader-scale issues. As a conservationist, I currently focus on the use of wildlife by people, sustainability and animal welfare, and increasingly human behaviour, specifically how influences such as social media drive both product demand and conservation awareness, as well as questions related to how small carnivores and other species exist in a human-modified world, how they co-exist with humans, and how we restore them where they have been lost. At a more fundamental level, I am interested in mechanisms for co-existence within carnivore guilds, sexual dimorphism and its effects on behavioural and ecological strategies, the implications of individual behaviours and individual specialisms in generalist species, and the ability of semi-aquatic mammals to function in both aquatic and terrestrial environments.
Current research themes are:
(1) wildlife trade and the role of social media (with case studies on pangolins traded for traditional medicine, and otters in the pet trade), * see our recently published work on pangolins here
(2) conflict between humans and musteloids, and potential management solutions (with a particular focus on otter-fisheries conflict), * see my chapter on People and wild native musteloids, written with Dr Jorgelina Marino and Prof Carolyn King (Waikato University, NZ), in Biology and Conservation of Musteloids, published by OUP
(3) reintroduction biology (including general issues such as welfare of individuals and factors influencing success, and species specific projects focusing on European mink in Spain). * see our paper on animal welfare considerations in reintroductions, written with Dr Axel Moehrenschlager (Calgary Zoological Society)
I gained my first degree in Applied Biology from Bath University. After working on the reintroduction of black footed ferrets in the 1990s (extinct in the wild at the time), I completed a Master’s degree in Fishery and Wildlife Biology at Colorado State University and then a DPhil (focusing on the management of invasive American mink in the UK, and interactions between mink and native mustelids) in Zoology at Oxford University.
Since 2007, I have overseen the WildCRU’s research on American mink and other riparian mammals. I have written a number of peer-reviewed papers on the biology, ecology, conservation and management of mink and other mustelids, and co-edited (with David Macdonald and Chris Newman) the Biology and Conservation of Wild Musteloids published in 2017. I am a member of the IUCN Otter Specialist Group, and was an independent Monitoring Partner for the Scottish Beaver Trial at Knapdale, Scotland (2009-2014).
My full publication list can be viewed here and an overview of my work on American mink (and that of the group over the last 20 years) can be found in two chapters in the 2015 book Wildlife Conservation on Farmland, Volume 2: Conflict in the Countryside (edited by David Macdonald and Ruth Feber, and published by Oxford University Press).
Our final monitoring report on the Scottish Beaver Trial is available here and a summary of our monitoring role in the trial here.
I am always keen to supervise undergraduate final honours projects, and wherever possible encourage students to publish their work. Recent students include:
Abigail Motley, 2014. The effect of climatic variation on juvenile body size for two species of bat in Wytham Woods, Oxfordshire, UK.
Kathryn Grant, 2011. Assessing the Potential Impact of Otter Predation on Local Fisheries in the Upper Thames Valley. * Published as Grant and Harrington (2015) in Mammal Research