I am a senior lecturer at Cardiff University, and co-director of Eco-explore (www.eco-explore.co.uk); a scientific research and engagement enterprise. My research interests in zoology, ecology and conservation stem from my origins as a birdwatcher in mid-Wales. My research group studies animal behaviour in changing environments, investigating the effects of climate on individuals, populations and ecological processes – particularly how such effects may be mediated by the behaviour of individual animals. The environmental changes that we study range from habitat destruction, long-term climate changes, through seasonal and daily changes, to the sudden appearance of a potential predator or an unfamiliar type of food. This work falls under four main headings, though there is plenty of overlap between these topics.
Climate change biology
Focusing on several major study systems that use migratory birds as sensitive bio-indicators of climate-driven changes in trophic relationships.
- The European Storm Petrel –the smallest Atlantic seabird
- The Northern Wheatear –which has the most extreme trans-oceanic migration of any songbird
- Reed-bed warblers (Reed Warblers and Sedge Warblers) –a pair of congeneric migrants with contrasting migration strategies
- Pied Flycatchers and Barn Swallows –two model species in the study of climate impacts on migratory birds.
Sensory constraints on behaviour
- Eye design in birds and visual constraints on behaviour
- Impacts of light and noise pollution on wildlife
Dietary wariness and foraging ecology
- Novel-food wariness in birds and fish, and its evolutionary consequences
- Strategic regulation of energy reserves in wild birds
Impacts of human activities on wild animals
- Impacts of capture and handling on birds and other animals
- Practical conservation of populations, habitats and biodiversity hotspots in a changing world
- Ecological impacts of eco-tourism
Scientific engagement work
My role in Eco-explore involves a range of scientific engagement work with schools, universities and NGOs. One of my special interests is the teaching of data analysis in a non-intimidating way, to empower amateur and professional researchers to explore the full potential of the data that they collect. I also run regular citizen-science expeditions and field courses in Portugal, Senegal and in the UK.
To find out more about my work at Cardiff University and Eco-explore, follow these links: