Remembering Dr Trevor Coote

by ZSL on

By Paul Pearce-Kelly, Senior Curator of Invertebrates and Fish, ZSL and Prof Mike Bruford, Cardiff University

We are very sorry to share the news that our dear colleague Dr Trevor Coote, Conservation Field Biologist on the International Partulid Programme, passed away in February this year.

Trevor Coote

Having graduated from Nottingham as a mature student in 1991, Trevor joined ZSL in 1992; first as a volunteer and then as a technician in the Institute of Zoology. He was instrumental in developing and applying human microsatellite DNA markers in apes and Old-World monkeys, and it was then that he embarked on his PhD at the Institute: examining genetic diversity in Partula snails. It was a subject he had first been introduced to by Prof Bryan Clarke during his undergraduate degree, then based at the Institute, and he worked in collaboration with Prof Richard Nichols at Queen Mary University in London.

Partula tohiv being released back onto the island of Morea
Partula tohiv being released back onto the island of Morea

His scientific ethos included a granite hard commitment to his personal codes and to openness.  This integrity was central to his PhD, for which he eschewed many intriguing and plausible results, because he insisted on checking and rechecking them. He is fondly remembered by his colleagues as smart, hard-working, humble and extremely funny. A North Londoner born and bred, with a varied and interesting life outside of science, and the published author of several novels.

Trevor went on to spend almost 20 years advancing conservation efforts for French Polynesian Partula snails – a group of molluscs sent into crisis by the introduction of invasive, carnivorous snails – and was instrumental in enabling the reintroduction phase of the Partula Programme. From his base in Tahiti, and with the support of ZSL, a consortium of international zoos and the French Polynesian Government, Trevor was responsible for the reintroduction of over 15,000 individual snails from 14 species and sub species since 2015.

Dr Trevor Coote overlooking Moorea, Tahiti
Dr Trevor Coote overlooking Moorea, Tahiti

Tragically, having only recently retired and returned to the UK, Trevor contracted Covid-19 and passed away. Colleagues across the mollusc conservation community, and far beyond, have expressed their sadness and testified to Trevor’s outstanding knowledge, experience and achievements – as well as his kind and helpful nature. In addition to a wealth of fond memories, Trevor’s conservation impact is a truly outstanding legacy for which we are all grateful and inspired to carry forward.    

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