Conservation action is often grounded in our present or recent understanding of how species behave and/or their current geographic range. However, the rapid landscape changes associated with anthropogenic climate change pose a threat to many of the world’s fragile environments. I joined WildCRU in 2022, and my research focuses on how climate change is affecting the habitats of endangered species, with a particular focus on felids. I’m aiming to help rectify the relative deficit in both academia and conservation action regarding the impact rapid climate change will have on organisms by unravelling the processes happening to landscapes as change occurs. This will allow me to predict how landscapes will shift in order to provide the most appropriate strategies to conserve species and manage landscapes as they alter in the future.
My academic journey so far has consisted of undertaking an integrated master’s in Geological Sciences at the University of Leeds, where I focused on palaeoecology – the closest to conservation I could get with a geology course! The degree also involved a year abroad at Monash University in Melbourne, working with some of Australia’s leading researchers in climate modelling. My interest in climate studies was reinforced by a NERC-funded ARIES DTP Research Experience Placement in the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, where I undertook a short project focusing on dendroclimatology, using tree rings to reconstruct the past climates of Norfolk and Siberia. After seeking opportunities to develop my conservation skills and ecological experience, I won a scholarship to study the MSc in Biodiversity and Conservation (with African Field Course) at the University of Leeds, where I undertook research projects on rewilding in Portugal (with the CERES International Project) and ungulate habitat preferences in Kenya (with the Mpala Research Centre).
I’m very grateful to Valerie Mitchell and LMH for funding my DPhil through the Valerie Mitchell WildCRU/LMH Scholarship. I’m passionate about “climate-friendly” conservation action and science communication, particularly wildlife film-making/presenting! If you wish to follow my work or get in touch, send me an email or follow me on Twitter @tompavey_.