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Andrew Bladon

Andrew Bladon

PhD Candidate

Room 3.01 David Attenborough Building
Office Phone: 01223 (3)36670


I studied Natural Sciences at Cambridge for my undergraduate degree, and graduated in 2011 having specialised in Zoology. I spent four months volunteering for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) working on a project assessing the impact of Higher Level Stewardship schemes on farmland birds. I then worked for the RSPB as a research assistant on a project studying hawfinch decline, before starting my PhD in October 2012.

Research Group

Conservation Science Group:
PhD Candidate

Research Interests

I am interested in the ecological determinants of species ranges, and the consequences of severe range-restriction for species conservation. I am studying two endemic Ethiopian birds, the Ethiopian Bush-crow, Zavattariornis stresemanni, and the White-tailed Swallow, Hirundo megaensis, which occupy small ranges (approximately 5,000km2) in southern Ethiopia. Previous work has indicated that the peculiar distribution of the bush-crow is described near-perfectly by an envelope of cooler, drier climate (Donald et al. 2012, J. Orn). The swallow, though little known, occupies the same region of unremarkable Acacia-parkland, and may well be limited by a similar effect of the local climate. I aim to determine the mechanisms underlying the restricted distributions of the species, while also better understanding their ecology and population dynamics. This is crucial to allow reserve management plans to match the birds’ needs in the face of a changing environment around them.

The Yabello Wildlife Sanctuary, which covers the northern part of the birds’ ranges, is currently being upgraded and expanded to a National Park. This will afford greater protection to the area, and offers a great opportunity to guide future management with sound conservation science. Through work with partners in Ethiopia, including the Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society (BirdLife partner) and the Yabello National Park staff, my research will result in conservation management plans for the National Park, which take account of both the current and likely future requirements of two of Ethiopia’s most unusual birds. My work will also increase our understanding of the ecological determinants of species distributions more broadly, and provide a model species on which further work can be based.

My PhD is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) via a studentship to the Zoology Department in Cambridge, with the RSPB as a CASE partner. I am supervised by Rhys Green at Cambridge and Paul Donald at the RSPB, with further support from Nigel Collar at BirdLife International.

Key Publications

Bladon, A.J., Jones, S.E.I., Collar, N.J., Dellelegn, Y., Donald, P.F., Gedeon, K., Green, R.E., Spottiswoode, C.N., Töpfer, T., Wondafrash, M. (2016) Further notes on the natural history of the Ethiopian Bush-crow Zavattariornis stresemanni. Bulletin of the African Bird Club 23 (1): 27-45.

Bladon, A.J., Töpfer, T., Collar, N.J., Gedeon, K., Donald, P.F., Dellelegn, Y., Wondafrash, M., Denge, J., Dadacha, G., Adula, M. and Green, R.E. (2015) Notes on the behaviour, plumage and distribution of the White-tailed Swallow Hirundo megaensis. Bulletin of the African Bird Club 22 (2): 148-161.

Other Publications

Will B. Kirby, Paul E. Bellamy, Andrew J. Stanbury, Andrew J. Bladon, Phil V. Grice & Simon Gillings
(2015): Breeding season habitat associations and population declines of British Hawfinches Coccothraustes coccothraustes , Bird Study, DOI: 10.1080/00063657.2015.1046368.