Amphibians constitute the most threatened vertebrate class on Earth, with 40% of species threatened with extinction.
While their use of both aquatic and terrestrial habitats during their different life stages makes them excellent indicator species, this also makes amphibians highly susceptible to multiple anthropogenic threats. Hence, understanding and mitigating the effects of these threats on amphibian populations is a chief conservation priority. One excellent way in which to do this is to develop our understanding of amphibian behaviour.
Behaviour is the primary way in which an animal interacts with its environment. A product of morphology, physiology, and environmental stimuli, behaviour sits at the intersection of evolution and ecology and can provide a wealth of information about a species.
Eleanor's PhD project involves investigating key behaviours in amphibian species that demonstrate unusual life history traits. Presently, Eleanor is working with the Mallorcan midwife toad (Alytes muletensis), a species of conservation concern housed at ZSL that invests heavily in parental care and for whom a major threat is the introduction of an invasive predator species; and the alpine newt (Ichthyosaura alpestris), a non-native invasive species here in the UK whose lifespan exceeds that of our native newt species and whose secondary sexual characteristics are visibly obvious (the males are bright blue).
By closely observing these species, Eleanor hopes to quantify amphibian behaviours relating to health, welfare and fitness. Eleanor will also use this work to develop new tools for ensuring that best welfare standards are identified and met within captive populations, given that so much of amphibian conservation is now occurring ex-situ. Her work will therefore have applications in informing both in- and ex-situ amphibian conservation strategy in the future.
2022-Present: Teaching Positions, UCL and The Brilliant Club
2022-Present: PhD Researcher, London NERC DTP, ZSL Institute of Zoology and UCL
2021-2022: Various Ecologist positions working on protected species surveys and translocations, Ecosulis, Thomson Environmental Consultants, and self-employed
2021: Funded Wildlife Conservation Research Assistant working on hedgehogs and road ecology, Nottingham Trent University
2019-2021: MSc (Res) Behaviour, Ecology and Evolution, University of St Andrews
2019: Fieldwork Research Assistant working on dipper ecology, Lancaster Environment Centre
2016-2019: BSc (Hons) Ecology and Conservation (Study Abroad), Lancaster University
Tinsley, E. K. and Bailey, N. W. (2023). Intrasexual aggression reduces mating success in field crickets. Ecology and Evolution, 13(10): e10557. doi: 10.1002/ece3.10557