Management of disease in Ethiopian wolves, Africa's most endangered carnivore
James Foley, DPhil Candidate, WildCRU, Department of Zoology
The Ethiopian Wolf is one of the world’s most endangered species and is the most endangered carnivore in Africa. There are only ~500 remaining individuals and none in captivity. It is threatened by people encroaching into it's habitat bringing domestic dogs that transmit diseases. With a species that is on the brink of extinction normal methods of developing management strategies would require too much time. Using cutting edge modelling, built using high resolution data, we can simulate various vaccination strategies that would take years to trial in hours. Come learn about a beautiful endangered species and how conservation is being brought into the 21st century.
I have worked on some of the most exciting carnivore species out there including, wolves, bears, lynx and foxes, as well as other less exciting species. Having been fortunate to spend my early career working in the field I eventually began to transfer into computational modelling, something I initially shunned, and began to see the impact you could have with these compared to traditional field studes. This led to me undertaking a DPhil where I get to ride horses around the mountains of Ethiopia as well as use a super computer. I also teach the NERC Doctoral Training Programme core skills course covering 6 weeks of maths, programming and statistics. I encourage students to get the most skills they can out of their studies as this where research really shines in transitioning into the job market.
Testing the dilution effect in broadleaved woodlands: how far does tree diversity predict oak pest and pathogen damage
Elsa Field, DPhil Student in Plant Ecology, Department of Plant Sciences
Diversifying forest stands through planting mixtures of tree species is promoted in forest management to increase resilience to environmental changes, including reducing the risk of outbreaks of insect pests and pathogens. Despite this, over 99.9% of the world’s new plantations are still planted as monocultures. The reasons for this are wide-ranging, and include economic barriers, and lack of dissemination of the evidence base to forest managers. In addition, while the impact of mixed stands on insect pests has been a topic of major study in recent decades, the evidence base for forest pathogens is less complete. In addition to planting design, individual tree traits, influenced by genetic and environmental factors, can have a strong impact on pest and disease loads on forest trees. In my PhD, I have been using two large scale tree diversity experiments, one in the UK, and one in SW France, to investigate multiple drivers of pest and pathogen damage on oak (Quercus robur) a keystone species in European woodland ecosystems. My results suggest that individual tree traits are more consistent drivers of pest damage, while tree diversity impacts are more variable. This has implications for forest managers who aim to balance multiple interests in designing the broadleaved plantations of the future.
Elsa is a third-year DPhil student in the Plant Ecology group in the Plant Sciences department, funded through the Oxford NERC DTP in Environmental Research. She works in collaboration with CASE partner with Forest Research, and supervisors at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford. Part of her PhD contributes to the PuRpOsE project (PRotect Oak Ecosystems), a DEFRA funded consortium of researchers working on oak health decline in the UK (https://protectouroaks.wordpress.com). Her main interests are trees, people and the myriad ways in which they interact. Prior to her DPhil she completed her undergraduate degree at Oxford in Biological Sciences at Magdalen College.