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Conservation Research Institute



I studied at the University of St Andrews for my BSc Hons in Marine Biology from 2013-2017. During my time I trained and helped conduct research on seals at the SMRU/SOI, cetaceans in Turkey with DMAD, and studied abroad at James Cook University, Australia, undertaking research on coral reefs with Dr Maria Dornelas and Professor Sean Connelly. I was also lucky enough to study polar ecology, including a field course to the Western Antarctic Peninsula in March 2017. I then applied for a PhD project advertised through the Cambridge ESS DTP and I'm happy to be joining the Conservation Evidence group here in the UCCRI.

I am very interested in communicating science and conservation issues to the public and particularly interested in becoming a wildlife television presenter. In my spare time I am also an amateur wildlife photographer and keen moth trapper and camera trapper. I love getting outdoors at any opportunity, hiking and playing all sorts of sports when I can.


My research aims to answer how we can rate the quality, geographical applicability and effectiveness of conservation interventions so that species and ecosystems are conserved using more evidence-based approaches. Not all studies are created equal, with differences in sample size, effort and methodological design most likely influencing effect sizes in conservation intervention research. One of my first challenges is to disentangle how this occurs and how we can come up with an objective scoring method to judge studies' reliability (i.e. quality). I am also interested in spatial and taxonomic patterns in the usage of these designs. From this I hope to be able to provide recommendations to those who monitor and test conservation interventions about the most cost-effective and reliable experimental designs to use for particular taxa and habitats.

The end goal of the PhD is to contribute to the development of an online tool that would allow conservationists and practitioners in the field to find the best supported conservation intervention for them to use in their local patch for a given issue. I hope this will contribute to the automation of evidence synthesis and assessment as part of the ambitious Conservation Evidence project.

Other interests of mine include how we can harness machine learning and artificial intelligence to advance conservation efforts, as well as making evidence synthesis, analysis and dissemination more efficient and dynamic.


Key publications: 

House JE, Bidaut LM, Christie AP, Pizarro O, Dornelas M. (2016Moving to 3D: relationships between coral planar area, surface area and volumePeerJ Preprints4:e2443v2

Simmons, BI, Balmford, A, Bladon, AJ, et al. Worldwide insect declines: An important message, but interpret with caution. Ecol Evol. 2019; 9: 3678– 3680.

Teaching and Supervisions


Supervisor in Conservation Science and Behavioural ecology and evolution. Demonstrator in Biology of Cells practicals. Botanic Gardens plant conservation masterclass tutor.

Geographical region

Australasia / Oceania
Central America
Central Asia
East Africa
East Asia
North Africa
North America
North Asia
South America
South Asia
South East Asia
Southern Africa
West Africa
PhD Student
 Alec  Christie


Departments and institutes: 
Research keywords: 
Conservation Biology