Dr. Sarah Whitmee
Honorary Research Associate
Dr Sarah Whitmee has now left ZSL.
2012-2013: Postdoctoral Researcher at IUCN. Honorary Research Associate at the Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London.
2011-2012: Consultant for the Grantham Institute of Climate Change, Imperial College London.
2007-2011: PhD Thesis entitled “Dispersal and the distributions of mammals: moving towards improved predictions”, with David Orme at Imperial College London.
2006-2007: Coordinator - Living Planet Index at the Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London.
2002-2005: Corporate Engagement Manager at Earthwatch Australia.
1999-2000: MSc Environmental Technology at Imperial College London.
1996-1999: B.Sc. (Hons) Biology at Sheffield University.
I am a conservation biologist and macroecologist interested in understanding drivers of species decline and the efficacy of biodiversity conservation measures. I am especially interested in studying the multitude of factors that underpin the current diversity and distributions of species, with a focus on the interaction of climatic, biotic and anthropogenic factors.
My current work centres around improving our understanding of the effectiveness of protected areas. Protected areas play a central role in efforts to protect and conserve species and so help to slow rates of biodiversity loss. Consequently the number of protected areas has grown rapidly over the past 20 years. But despite this we still see population declines in species and destruction of the habitats they need to survive and thrive. A better understanding of when and why protected areas are successful in conserving species can help to inform the placement and goals of new protected areas and strengthen conservation efforts in existing protected areas. I use change in population abundance, which is a robust and sensitive metric of the changing fate of biodiversity, to study what factors predict protected area success. My work is carried out as part of a collaboration between the International Union for Nature Conservation(IUCN), the Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London (ZSL), WWF and the World Commission on Protected Areas/Species Survival Commission (WCPA/SSC) Task Force on ‘Biodiversity and Protected Areas’.
I also work on the Biodiversity and Protected Area Management (BIOPAMA) project. BIOPAMA is a four year project, funded by the European Development Fund. Direct partners include the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC), IUCN and the German International Development Cooperation Agency (GIZ). The aim of the project is to develop capacity and information for protected area management in the ACP countries of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. My role within this project is to enhance data acquisition and modelling in these regions, including developing a marine model for protected area effectiveness.
My previous work focused on quantifying the impact of climate change on mammal species ranges. Specifically, I focused on improving forecasts of how species distributions might respond when faced with the potentially negative effects of climate change, such as increased temperature. To achieve this I created and populated my own database with more than 600 geo-referenced observations of mammal movements and accompanying information on population density and method of data collection. My research touched on areas of both fundamental and applied ecology, from analysing mammalian dispersal kernels to projecting suitable habitats under climate change.
M. Baguette, K. Böhning-Gaese, M. Brändle, J. Clobert, M. Dehling, C. Hof, J-F Le Galliard, A. B. Phillimore, S. Sekar, V. M. Stevens, A. Trochet, S. Whitmee. A meta-analysis of dispersal syndromes in terrestrial animals: perspectives for evolution and conservation in a changing world. In prep.
Whitmee, S., C.D.L. Orme, S. Buckle, M. Muuls, A. Gambir. A taxonomy of countries’ climate change mitigation strategies. In prep.
Whitmee, S., & C.D.L. Orme. Comparative estimates of range filling in mammals are related to dispersal and colonisation ability. In prep.
Whitmee, S. & C.D.L. Orme. (2012) Predicting dispersal distance in mammals: A trait based approach. Journal of Animal Ecology 82(1): 211- 221.
Collen B, Loh J, McRae L, Whitmee S, Amin R, & Baillie JEM (2009) Monitoring change in vertebrate abundance: the Living Planet Index. Conservation Biology 23: 317-327.
McRae L, Loh J, Collen B, Holbrook S*, Latham J, Tranquilli S, & Baillie, J. (2007) A Living Planet Index for Canada, (ed. S. Mitchell). Living Planet Report for Canada, WWF Canada, Canada.
Loh J, Collen B, McRae L, Holbrook S*, Amin R, Ram M, & Baillie J. (2006) Living Planet Index, (eds J. Loh & S. Goldfinger). Living Planet Report, WWF, Gland, Switzerland.
(*) under maiden name.
Member of the World Commission on Protected Areas.