Dr. Donal Smith
I am interested in species loss and our efforts to prevent it. In the face of accelerating rates of extinction, the discipline of conservation biology has pulled off some remarkable feats, rescuing species from the very brink. But the prospects of many threatened species continue to worsen and, while a lack of information is certainly a major impediment in global conservation, it is striking that conservationists can often struggle to act effectively even when the predicament of a species perilously close to extinction is well understood. After decades of conservation efforts directed towards species on the brink of extinction, what are the lessons that arise from our successes and our struggles? And can we apply them so we succeed more and struggle less?
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I spent many happy years working on conservation recovery projects for threatened bird species: Mainly the Echo parakeet in Mauritius, the hihi in New Zealand, and the Asian houbara in Uzbekistan. I then participated in another critical dimension of threatened species conservation as a member of BirdLife International’s Red List team. My PhD research focused on one of the major challenges facing biodiversity today: the devastating amphibian disease, chytridiomycosis. I examined phenotypic and genetic determinants of variation in response to this incredibly destructive pathogen.
Franks, V. R., Ewen, J. G., McCready, M., Rowcliffe, R., Smith, D., & Thorogood, R. (In press. 2020) Analysing age structure, residency and relatedness uncovers social network structure in aggregations of young birds. Animal Behaviour
Tollington, S., Ewen, J. G., Newton, J., McGill, R. A., Smith, D., Henshaw, A., Fogell, D. J., Tatayah, V., Greenwood, A., Jones, C. G., & Groombridge, J. J. (2019) Characterising individual consumption of supplemental food by Mauritius parakeets as a predictor of reproductive performance and viral infection intensity. Journal of Applied Ecology, 56(3), 594-603
Tollington, S., Greenwood, A., Jones, C. G., Hoeck, P., Chowrimootoo, A., Smith, D., Richards, H., Tatayah, V., & Groombridge J. J. (2015). Detailed monitoring of a small but recovering population reveals sublethal effects of disease and unexpected interactions with supplemental feeding. Journal of Animal Ecology, 84(4), 969-77.
Dyke, G. J., McGowan, A., Nudds, R. L. & Smith, D. (2009). The shape of pterosaur evolution: evidence from the fossil record. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 22(4), 890-898.