- 2018 – Present: PhD Researcher, Royal Society, University of Sheffield and Institute of Zoology
- 2017 – 2018: MRes in Behaviour and Evolution, University of Sheffield
- 2015 – 2016: Research Assistant, Instituto Politecnico Nacional
- 2012 – 2015: BSc in Biology, Queen Mary University of London
I am interested in expanding our knowledge of threatened species, the risks that they face in light of anthropogenic environmental change and the methods used to study them. The genetics, development, survival and reproduction of a species is tightly linked to their ecology and environment, which is changing at a unprecedented rate. I am interested in how this changing ecology affects species at all levels, from their genetics to their behaviour, and how they may adapt.
My PhD research is concerned with how the factors facing threatened and at risk bird species affect hatching failure, as a result of fertilisation failure and embryo mortality. We aim to develop methods for the improved study of unhatched eggs collected in the field, in a hope to allow conservation scientists and management to gain greater insight into causes of hatching failure in bird populations. To achieve this, we are investigating the causes of hatching failure in a threatened passerine bird called the hihi (Notiomystis cincta), such as:
- Genetics: inbreeding levels and telomere length
- Demographics: sex ratios and population density
- Environment: microclimate variations and annual changes in temperature and rainfall
The hihi is endemic to the North island of New Zealand and has suffered huge population decline due to anthropogenic habitat degradation and the introduction of invasive mammalian predators. Due to this severe genetic bottleneck, hihi also have reduced genetic diversity and inbreeding to add to their list of concerns. Although the hihi population has grown due to successful conservation management, hihi have a hatching failure rate of 33%. We hope to further our knowledge of the causes of hatching failure in this species and other facing similar challenges, with the potential for informing conservation management for improved population growth and recovery.
Dr Nicola Hemmings, University of Sheffield
Dr Patricia Brekke, Institute of Zoology