Before starting my PhD I studied a BSc in Zoology at Cardiff University, graduating in 2012. My final year project, funded by Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, analysed the genetic diversity of the original (extinct) and translocated (extant) populations of the Mauritian orange-tailed skink Gongylomorphus fontenayi following emergency translocation from Flat Island to Gunner’s Quoin following arrival of the invasive Indian musk shrew. Further research assessed the genetic evidence for a historic population bottleneck in the original skink population on Flat Island, and considered how this may have coincided with the arrival of other human-mediated invasive species introductions.
Following graduation I worked as a research assistant to a PhD student at Cardiff University studying magnetoreception in pigeons, before starting my PhD at Cambridge in 2013.
- Conservation Science Group:
- PhD Candidate
My interests lie in spatially-explicit analyses to determine processes that influence species’ distributions and changes in abundance, and identify threats that may affect a species' long-term persistence. My PhD investigates the effects of habitat and climate on the Dartford warbler Sylvia undata and Cetti's warbler Cettia cetti in Britain using spatially-explicit modelling. As resident species, both warblers are vulnerable to severe winter weather and currently have the northern limits of their global ranges in southern Britain. Climate envelope models project these species will expand further in Britain as winter temperatures increase; however this is accompanied by projected declines in the southern ranges in Spain, with severe losses predicted for the Dartford warbler. The stronghold of the Dartford warbler population is found in Spain, and declines in the national population warranted uplisting of the species to Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List 2008. Further, although expansions in Britain are predicted as the climate becomes more suitable, the ability of both species to expand is likely to be limited by the patchy and fragmented distribution of the habitats they occupy. My PhD involves analysis of species-specific dispersal capacities, the relationships between fine-scale weather conditions and local population changes and estimation of habitat-specific density estimates, largely carrying out spatial analyses in GIS and statistical analyses in the programming language R. By combining the findings of these analyses I am able to model spatially-explicit historical population changes and produce metapopulation projections of potential future distributions of the Dartford warbler and Cetti's warbler in Britain under climate change simulations. Additionally, by modelling spatial variation in population trends and changes in climate suitability, I am able to assess whether declines in Spain and trends across the global range of the Dartford warbler are related to climate change.
My PhD is funded by the Miriam Rothschild Scholarship Programme via the University of Cambridge and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). My supervisors are Professor Rhys Green (Cambridge) and Dr Richard Bradbury (RSPB).
Murray, H. J., Green, E. J., Williams, D. R., Burfield, I. J., & Brooke, M. de L. (2015). Is research effort associated with the conservation status of European bird species? Endangered Species Research, 27, 193-206