My research

I am the Conservation Science Manager for the EDGE of Existence programme at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). Our work prioritises the conservation of Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) species. I oversee the research being done by the EDGE team in London and the EDGE Fellows we support to work on  priority EDGE species all over the world. My team provides training, mentorship and advice to the current EDGE Fellows as well as helping to develop and manage our larger-scale EDGE projects. We are refining the scientific method with which EDGE prioritises the conservation of evolutionarily history and documenting global patterns that can inform our work on the ground.

I was previously a Post-doctoral Research Fellow in Ecology and Conservation at the University of Sussex, working with Jörn Scharlemann. As part of the PREDICTS project, I used the newly available, taxonomically comprehensive global database to quantify the difference in biodiversity inside and outside protected areas across the world. I also continued to carry out research on the sustainable management of oil palm plantations.

I completed my PhD at the Department of Zoology, Oxford University (UK) in 2014. My PhD research focused on oil palm plantations in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo.  In these plantations, forest next to rivers is protected because it has a beneficial impact on water quality: the run-off of agricultural chemicals and soil into rivers is reduced where forest is present on the river bank. These thin corridors of forest are often heavily degraded, but my research has shown that these forested river banks (called riparian reserves) are a valuable habitat for native species that cannot otherwise survive in oil palm areas.

I also assessed whether increasing the reserve width and habitat complexity of riparian reserves can increase the biodiversity they support, to make recommendations for national policy and global sustainability guidelines (e.g. Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil, RSPO). The third main component of my PhD was to assess whether the riparian reserves enhance natural pest control in the surrounding plantation.

My PhD research was supervised by Prof. Owen Lewis and was based within the Stability of Altered Forest Landscapes (S.A.F.E) project area. My work was also part of the Biodiversity Beyond Protected Areas research theme within the Oxford Biodiversity Institute; further details of this can be found here.

I started working on oil palm landscapes during my MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management (School of Geography, Oxford University) (2009 – 2010). For my  MSc research, I assessed the role that large forest reserves play in providing natural pest control services to oil palm plantations.

Please get in touch if you’d like to hear more.

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