This programme is a unique collaboration, jointly delivered by Southampton and Marwell Wildlife. Marwell Wildlife is a conservation charity with a zoological park as part of its conservation profile. It undertakes a broad portfolio of conservation research including managing individuals and populations of threatened species and restoration of endangered wildlife and ecosystems. This MRes is the only wildlife conservation programme currently available in the UK to offer such a high degree of interaction between a university and a conservation organisation. Its ultimate aim is to produce individuals with the skills, experience and academic credentials required for employment as conservation biologists. To provide an immersive experience for students and to ensure we have the scope to cover all that the MRes encompasses, the course is based on a full calendar year, running from October until late September. The MRes is a full-time course, with no provision for a part-time option at this time. Tuition fees will depend on which research project is undertaken.
The support provided from both staff at the university and at Marwell Wildlife has been of the highest quality. I have also, crucially, been brought together with a group of incredibly like-minded individuals, from a variety of university and employment backgrounds, and who have shared their knowledge and passion to form a strong team who I know I will never lose contact with.
We have been provided with many opportunities which (having looked at a number of other courses within this field) I believe you would be pushed to find elsewhere in the UK, and probably even beyond. So far, we have undertaken a field course to Kenya, and been involved in Marwell's conservation efforts both in the zoo and at its conservation sites in the UK. Now the taught part of the course has reached its end, we are each undertaking our own research projects for the next 8 months, which aim to fill some crucial knowledge gaps in the field. Some of us are going abroad for fieldwork, others are staying in the UK.
We will have ongoing support from supervisors at both the university and Marwell Zoo throughout the remainder of the year however, we are now very much conducting our own independent research.
I will be presenting the results of my findings on the success of reintroduction projects at the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums conference in September; this is a real step-up from an undergraduate dissertation! Having been out of the student world for three years, I have found it incredibly easy to return to a year of very intense, but incredibly rewarding study; both the university and the Marwell have provided us with our own working space for the duration of the course and I feel a part of each of these working communities and plan to make the most of the provisions we have been given over the rest of the year.
Background: I graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Zoology from University of Southampton in July 2014, after conducting my dissertation research in Indonesia. I studied the effects of human activity on the health of reefs and the resulting differences in diversity and distribution of nudibranch sea slugs, mainly Chromodoris annae and Phyllidiella pustulosa, while working with Operation Wallacea on active beach clean projects and coral reef monitoring.
Research Area: I will be working on population management and animal behaviour, based at Marwell Zoo with Dr. Heidi Mitchell (Marwell’s Research and Higher Education Manager). I am hoping this can involve the study of populations adapting to captivity, as I am keen to become involved in reintroduction projects, the success of which are impacted by maladaptations.
Why I Chose MRes Wildlife Conservation: Knowing that I wanted a future in conservation biology, it seemed there was a toss-up between experience and postgraduate qualifications in terms of what would give me the best boost into the sector. This course was the perfect combination, with the added bonus of being based between my former campus and a zoo I spent much of my childhood visiting, in addition to fieldwork experience in Africa.
Background: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), graduated in 2009 (Yogyakarta, Indonesia). My dissertation focussed on the effect of bacterial infection in 3-week-old chickens, observed via conducting blood tests. I have spent 4 years working as a wildlife veterinarian in an Orangutan Pongo pygmaeus rehabilitation centre in East Borneo, and breeding long-tailed macaques Macaca fascicularis on Bintan island, Indonesia.
Research Area: My research project will hopefully concentrate on large carnivores in Zimbabwe, working with the Dambari Wildlife Trust (one of Marwell’s long-term partners) under the supervision of Dr Nicky Pegg (Director of Research at Dambari Wildlife Trust).
Why I Chose MRes Wildlife Conservation: I have always wanted to work with wild animals, that is why I became a veterinarian. I chose the MRes Wildlife Conservation course because I believe it can give me a more in-depth knowledge about conservation because it has a greater basis in biology than veterinary sciences.
Aims for the Future: My hope is to establish myself as a wildlife veterinarian and conservation biologist, involved in preserving biodiversity on mother earth.
Background: BSc Zoology (Hons) from University of Colombo, Sri Lanka, graduated in January 2013. I did my undergraduate research dissertation on the effect of land use patterns on group size, composition and habitat use of western purple-faced langurs Trachypithecus vetulus nestor.
My interests lie in behavioural ecology, human-wildlife conflict and primates. After graduation, I worked as a teaching assistant in the Department of Zoology, University of Colombo, and volunteered for Conservation Coalition of Sri Lanka to study the human-monkey conflict on the island.
Research Area: My research project will be based at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya, working with Dr. Zeke Davidson (Marwell’s Conservation Biologist, resident in Kenya).
Why I chose MRes Wildlife Conservation: This is a uniquely research-intense programme, which will provide the platform to develop myself as a holistic conservation biologist. It provides international exposure and the training in field techniques with a multidisciplinary approach to tackle present day conservation issues.
Aims for the Future: I hope to pursue a career in research, working towards the conservation of endangered species and mitigating human-wildlife conflict through the study of their behavioural ecology.
Background: I graduated with aBSc (Hons) in Zoology with Conservation from Bangor University (2012). For my undergraduate research project, I explored the use of zigzag patterns as an aposematic signal in Adders in the UK. During my undergraduate degree, I spent a month in Botswana, monitoring animal populations and movement within the Tuli block. Over the past two years, I have worked in animal rescue, further studying animal behaviour and welfare.
Research Area: Population management and animal behaviour based at Marwell Zoo working alongside Dr. Heidi Mitchell (Marwell’s Research and Higher Education Manager).
Why I Chose MRes Wildlife Conservation: The combination of practical fieldwork and lectures given by active conservation biologists, and having the opportunity to be involved in conservation projects with Marwell Wildlife.
Aim for the future: I would like to be further involved with conservation education projects based in the UK.
Background: BSc from Canisius College (USA) with majors in Biology, and Animal Behavior Ecology and Conservation and minors in Environmental Biology and Anthrozoology (2014). My undergraduate research focused on the behavior of beluga whales Delphinapterus leucas (topics I examined included associations between whales in relation to sex and age, calf development, and mother-calf relationships). Over the summer of 2014, I helped collect data on migratory birds (focusing on warbler’s responses to flight calls) on Appledore Island, ME.
Research Area: Field project based on UK ecology, under the supervision of Dr. Martin Wilkie (Marwell’s UK-based Conservation Biologist).
Why I Chose MRes Wildlife Conservation: The opportunity to conduct an in-depth field-based research project with the potential to make a real difference in the field of wildlife conservation, along with the opportunity to learn from practicing conservationists from an established conservation organization, drew me to this course, as did the field trip to Kenya.
Aims for the Future: I plan on obtaining a PhD, and pursuing a career conducting field research related to wildlife conservation.
This course is designed for graduates and postgraduates of biology, zoology and ecological disciplines (2:1 or first class degree), and those currently already working at conservation organisations. Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed by representatives from the Centre for Biological Sciences and Marwell Wildlife.
Recipient: University of Southampton
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