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Professor of Conservation Biology, University of East Anglia

I am a conservation biologist with eclectic research interests mainly at interdisciplinary boundaries. Much of my current research concerns emerging zoonotic diseases such as SARS, COVID-19, HPAI H5N1 and Ebola and the impacts of introduced pathogens and wildlife trade on biodiversity loss. This has included collaboration to sequence the genomes of the endangered Mauritius Pink Pink Nesoenas mayeri (Mohammed Albeshr) and the protozoan Trichomonas gallinae (Abdul alrefaei) which has jumped from columbids to finches causing substantial mortalities.

I am currently leading research into causes of UK-wide die-off in European hares and rabbits.

One of my recent PhD students, Simon Poulton investigated altitudinal variation in small mammals and their pathogens in the Nepali Himalayas. A current PhD student Tim McCormack is leading research into the conservation of terrestrial tortoises and freshwater turtles across SE Asia.

I was PI on a recently completed interdisciplinary GCRF British Academy Cities and Infrastructure grant investigating sustainable management of watershed dependent megacities using the Mexico City megalopolis as a model.

Historically my overseas research has been primarily aimed at helping to identify long-term management plans to minimise biodiversity loss in critically threatened grassland and forest refugial habitats in Mexico, the Indian sub-continent, SE Asia and Indian Ocean islands.

My UK research has used the European wild rabbit as a model species to investigate inter-relationships among population dynamics, behavioural ecology, reproduction, genetics, parasites/disease and species/ecosystem conservation. Most of the latter research has involved a long-term (20+years), non-invasive study of a natural European wild rabbit population situated on the UEA campus.

Current Research Projects

COVID-19 origins in wildlife trade
Wildlife trade and farming in SE Asia
Impact of H5N1 on biodiversity and local livelihoods
Water conservation: the sustainable management of watershed-dependent cities
Causes of the UK-wide die-off in European brown hares
Climate change: The impact of Hurricane Dorian on endemic Bahamas avifauna
Genomes and parasites in Indian Ocean columbids and passerines
Myxomatosis epidemiology 60 years on
Parasites and disease in the European wild rabbit
Altitudinal variation in small mammals and their pathogens in the Himalayas
Genetic variation in Trichomonas gallinae
Reintroductions and translocations of Mauritian avifauna
Pangolin conservation
Conservation of endangered lagomorphs


  • –present
    Professor of Conservation Biology, University of East Anglia