Conservation & Science Team

Dr. Gráinne McCabe, Head of Conservation Science

Gráinne is a Biological Anthropologist specialising in primate behaviour and ecology. Her research focuses on the reproductive ecology of wild monkeys in both Costa Rica and Tanzania using an integrative approach combining behavioural, ecological, nutritional, endocrinological and parasitological data to gain a better understanding of the factors impacting reproduction in threatened primates. Gráinne received her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at San Antonio and her Masters from the University of Calgary, Canada, in Primatology. Prior to joining Bristol Zoological Society, she was a joint Postdoctoral Research Fellow with Drexel University (USA) and Universidad Nacional de Guinea Ecuatorial in Equatorial Guinea, West Africa, where she focused on primate conservation and attempting to halt the bushmeat trade by lobbying the government, and managing micro-credit projects to promote alternative sources of income. In addition to overseeing the research activities of Bristol Zoological Society, Gráinne is project lead for the Sanje mangabey and lemur leaf frog field conservation projects.

Research topics:

  • Behavioural ecology, including sociality, feeding, and nutrition
  • Reproductive biology and ecology
  • Conservation threats
  • Population level studies examining dynamics, viability and demography


Dr. Amanda Webber, Higher Education Manager

Amanda is an Anthropologist who lived and worked in The Gambia and Costa Rica before receiving her M.Sc. (Primate Conservation) and Ph.D. from Oxford Brookes University.  Her Ph.D. research focussed on comparing the actual and perceived risk of crop damage by large vertebrates to farmers in Uganda. After teaching at Oxford Brookes University and University of Bristol, Amanda joined the Bristol Zoological Society Conservation Science team in 2013. She has supervised student projects on subjects ranging from people’s perceptions of urban foxes and red kites to evaluation of co-adaptive management schemes and tourist ventures. Amanda is the project co-lead for field research in Madagascar.

Research topics:

  • Human-wildlife interactions and the development of effective co-existence strategies
  • People’s perceptions of wildlife particularly urban and/or pest species
  • Representation of wildlife in the media (newspapers, online etc.)
  • Visitor perception research in the zoo


Dr. Mark Abrahams, Lecturer in Conservation Science

Mark is an interdisciplinary applied Conservation Scientist, working mainly in the tropics. He uses methods from the natural and social sciences and conducts both field-based and Geographical Information System data collection and analyses. Mark attempts to integrate ecological data derived from camera traps, with interview data. His primary research interests revolve around reconciling human needs with biodiversity conservation. His academic background includes an MA in the Philosophy of Property Ownership at Nottingham University, an MSc in Conservation Science from Imperial College London, studying above ground woody biomass and tree diversity in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and a PhD focussing on Amazonian subsistence hunting at the University of East Anglia. He has also worked in Corporate Social Responsibility in the UK and Community agroforestry projects in Mozambique.

Research topics:

  • Community based natural resource management
  • Human-wildlife interactions
  • Tropical ecology and conservation
  • Property rights and land ownership


Dr. Tim Bray, Lecturer in Conservation Science

Tim is a Conservation Geneticist specialising in using molecular genetic approaches to answer questions in conservation, ecology, and the distribution of biological diversity. Subsequent to an M.Sc. in Ecology at Bangor University, his Ph.D. at the University of Cardiff considered genetic introgression in a minority cattle breed. Tim has worked with a variety of ecological and evolutionary systems across several geographical regions. His work encompasses a wide range of spatial and temporal scales as well as considering genetic data in the context of environmental variables. He has since continued to work largely with mammaIian populations in Africa and Arabia. As well as the more well-known groups, such as grey wolves and pipistrelle bats, his work has touched on the more obscure; including jirds, spiny mice, and the solitary Cape dune mole-rat. Most recently he has been involved with characterising the incredible diversity of South-east Asian beetle communities, looking into species delimitation and phylogenomics. Tim joined Bristol Zoological Society in 2015 and is the project lead for the BZS Costa Rica project.

Research topics:

  • Population genetics; diversity, demographic modelling
  • Phylogenetics
  • Parentage and mating systems
  • Invertebrate diversity


Dr. Fay Clark, Lecturer in Animal Behaviour and Welfare

Fay is an Animal Welfare Scientist who specialises in the assessment and enhancement of captive animal welfare in traditional zoos, safari parks, sanctuaries and aquariums. Fay received her Ph.D. from the Royal Veterinary College and Institute of Zoology (Zoological Society of London/University of Cambridge) after an M.Phil. at the University of Cambridge. Prior to joining Bristol Zoological Society in 2013, Fay worked for and studied at the Zoological Society of London for six years, examining gorilla welfare and how the welfare of large-brained mammals could be enhanced by providing them with cognitively challenging activities. Fay has a special interest in how high technology and advanced statistical techniques can be used to improve the validity of zoo-based research. Fay project leads internal (zoo-based) health and welfare research, and runs the society’s environmental enrichment group.

Research topics:

  • Neuro-lateralisation of behaviour (use of the left and right sides of the brain and body)
  • Cognitive enrichment
  • Novel animal welfare indicators
  • Lemur cognition and behaviour (zoo-based)


Dr. Alison Cotton, Lecturer in Conservation Science

Alison is an Evolutionary and Conservation Biologist. Hailing from New Zealand, she began her career in conservation, investigating the efficacy of the Kiwi Aversion Training that is done to deter dogs from killing kiwi. After a year working at animal conservation centres in Central and South America, she moved to England to do her M.Sc. at Oxford University where a love of evolutionary research was born. Alison received her M.Res. and Ph.D. from UCL on the evolution of sexually selected traits in stalk-eyed flies. This involved behaviour and genetic experiments, both in the laboratory and in the rainforests of Malaysia. She joined Bristol Zoological Society in 2014, and as well as lecturing and supervising students, works for the IUCN primate specialist group, updating all the primate Red List assessments. She is the project lead for the BZS African penguin project.

Research topics:

  • African penguin behaviour and ecology (field and zoo-based)
  • Wild bird translocations, foraging success and survival
  • Welfare and enrichment of zoo animals
  • Sexual selection, sexual trait evolution and mate selection


Dr. Sam Cotton, Lecturer in Conservation Science

Sam is an Evolutionary Biologist and Behavioural Ecologist interested in conservation issues. He completed his undergraduate degree in Biology at the University of Bristol, before moving to UCL to do a Ph.D. on sexual selection and evolutionary genetics.  After his Ph.D., he remained at UCL as a post-doc looking at sexual selection in captive and wild populations of Malaysian stalk-eyed flies.  Subsequently he moved to the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, where he worked on theoretical evolutionary and conservation biology, and also investigated the role and importance of mutation rates in conservation biology. Sam returned to UCL in 2008, having won a NERC Fellowship, and investigated how environmental variation influences sexual selection in wild populations Malaysian stalk-eyed flies. Sam also taught secondary school science, before joining Bristol Zoological Society as a Lecturer in Conservation Science in 2016.  He is the project co-lead for field research in Madagascar.

Research topics:

  • Evolutionary conservation biology
  • Sexual selection and evolution
  • Consequences of edge effects and habitat fragmentation
  • Biodiversity, agroecology and reforestation in Madagascar


Osiris Doumbé, Lecturer in Conservation Science

Osiris is a Wildlife Conservationist, working predominantly on Cameroonian biodiversity. After an M.Res. in Primate Biology, Behaviour and Conservation at Roehampton University and a field work in the Bamenda Highlands (Cameroon), he created and led the Ellioti Project. The goal of this project was to map the distribution of the Endangered Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee and the diversity of monkeys in the North-West region of Cameroon. Thus, for a few years, Osiris surveyed the mountainous and sub-mountainous tropical forests of north-western Cameroon, before joining the Department of Field Conservation & Science of Bristol Zoological Society in 2015. In parallel to tutoring two module courses, he is currently leading BZS’s giraffe project in northern Cameroon, while being still involved in the conservation of chimpanzees in the North-West region of Cameroon. Osiris is a member of the IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group and the African Primatological Society.

Research topics:

  • Primate behaviour and ecology
  • Giraffe behaviour and ecology
  • African wildlife conservation
  • Tropical ecology (forests and savannas)


Dr. Sue Dow, Lecturer in Conservation Science

Sue is a Zoologist specialising in animal social dynamics, with a special interest in native wildlife. She trained as a zoologist at the University of Oxford and carried out a Ph.D. at the University of Exeter on foraging and learning in pigeons. Sue’s previous research at the University of Bristol was on bird flight and then tendon injuries and humane treatments for horses. Sue has worked at Bristol Zoological Society since 1992, originally combining working on building projects and co-ordinating research projects. Sue has a major involvement in monitoring and evaluating the green activities of Bristol Zoological Society.

Research topics:

  • Gorilla longitudinal social dynamics (zoo-based)
  • Husbandry challenges in ectotherms
  • Effects of enclosure design on the behavioural repertoire of captive animals
  • Enrichment complexity for zoo mammals


Neil Green, Avon Invasive Weeds Project Officer

Neil is an Ecologist who specialises in native wildlife. He is responsible for invasive non native species surveys across the old Avon district, including South Gloucestershire and Bristol. Neil undertakes mapping and instigates management strategies, as well as raising awareness of invasive weeds through educational programmes. Prior to his work with Bristol Zoological Society, Neil worked as a surveyor for the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, and as a Coastal Ranger for the National Trust. Neil has a degree in Environmental Management from the University of Bath.


Dr. Daphne Kerhoas, Lecturer in Conservation Science

Tel: +44(0)117 428 5477

Daphne is an Ethologist and Conservation Biologist specialising in wild primates. Following an M.Sc. in Ethology from the University of Paris XIII, her Ph.D. research at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, in collaboration with the German Primate Centre, focussed on male-infant relationships in wild Sulawesi crested macaques. This involved data collection and playback experiments in the wild and laboratory analysis of the genetic samples to determine paternity. Prior to this, Daphne studied in an animal behaviour programme in Bucknell University (USA), and has extensive fieldwork experience in Costa Rica and Nigeria. Throughout these experiences, Daphne has been directly involved in a variety of conservation issues and motivated conservation actions, including environmental education, patrolling against poachers and illegal loggers, and dialogs with government representatives. Daphne has worked at Bristol Zoological Society since 2013, and been analysing trends of the ‘Top 25 Most Endangered Primates’ report, as well as leading the Society’s field projects in the Philippines. Daphne is also the programme leader of the FdSc ‘Integrated Wildlife Conservation’ in partnership with the University of the West of England.

Research topics:

  • Primate ecology and behaviour
  • Animal social interactions and how they are affected by their environment
  • Conservation of Philippine species (field site based in Negros)
  • Assessing the impact of conservation project and campaigns such as the ‘Top 25 Most Endangered Primate Species’


Katie Major, Conservation Psychologist and Campaigns Manager

Katie is a Conservation Psychologist interested in human behaviour and wildlife conservation. Katie’s interest in human psychology and conservation first developed during her B.Sc. Psychology degree at Plymouth University, and she completed an M.Sc. in Primate Conservation at Oxford Brookes University to develop these interests further. During this time, she conducted research examining the behaviour and welfare of various captive species in both zoos and aquariums, including fish and lemurs. After completing her M.Sc., Katie spent eight months living in remote forests of the Philippines working with the Agta, an indigenous hunter-gatherer population. Katie joined Bristol Zoological Society in spring 2015 and is responsible for designing, implementing and evaluating behaviour change campaigns (encouraging the public to perform pro-environmental behaviours) at Bristol Zoo Gardens and Wild Place Project.

Research topics:

  • Pro-environmental behaviour, specifically in regards to behaviour change
  • The knowledge and rights of indigenous people with relation to protected areas
  • Methods of conservation communication
  • General visitor research in zoos


Jen Nightingale, UK Conservation Manager

Jen is a Conservationist who received her M.Sc. in Wildlife Conservation and Management from Reading University, which focused on researching the impact of invasive fish species on our native aquatic populations. This led on to Jen developing the UK Conservation department at Bristol Zoo, which instigates captive breeding and reintroduction for species such as barbary carpet moth, fen raft spider, water vole and crayfish, in addition to leading on invasive species control within Bristol and adjoining counties. Jen has also worked in Zimbabwe tracking rhino and conducting habitat surveys for the WWF before moving to Canada to work as a zoo and aquarium educator. On returning to the UK, she worked for three years within public Aquariums before joining Bristol Zoo as their Aquarium Curator.  Jen established the South West Crayfish Partnership in 2008, in attempt to halt the decline of this Endangered species within SW England and she is currently studying for her Ph.D. part time at the University of Bristol, perfecting the art of breeding white-clawed crayfish for wild release, whilst continuing to run Bristol Zoological Society’s UK conservation team. Jen chairs the BIAZA UK Reintroduction Advisory Group.

Research topics:

  • Aquaculture techniques for crayfish conservation
  • Aquatic monitoring survey techniques
  • the use of passive integrated transponders and acoustic telemetry
  • Invasive species mitigation and remediation studies


Veterinary staff who can supervise student projects

Michelle Barrows BSc BVMS PGCertConsMed (Avian) DipECZM (ZHM)

Michelle graduated from Glasgow University in 1998. She has been Head of Veterinary Services and Conservation Medicine for Bristol Zoological Society since October 2010.  She is also a clinical teacher at the University of Bristol’s School of Veterinary Sciences and the unit lead for two modules on their MSc in Global Wildlife Health and Conservation.  She has previously worked in exotic pet and zoo practice in the UK and also spent seven years working in South Africa, based at Johannesburg Zoo.  She is a European Veterinary Specialist in Zoological Medicine (Zoo Health Management) and also holds the RCVS Certificate and Diploma (Avian) in Zoological Medicine as well as a Post Graduate Certificate in Veterinary Conservation Medicine from Murdoch University.  She is the veterinary advisor to the EAZA Pigeon and Dove TAG and the pink pigeon EEP.  She has supervised PhD and MSc student projects on radiographic anatomy of zoo animals, avian gastrointestinal parasites, antimicrobial resistance in zoos and preventative medicine.


Rowena Killick BVM&S MSc (Wild Animal Health) DZooMed (Mammalian) MRCVS

Rowena obtained her MSc in Wild Animal Health in 2005 and her RCVS Diploma in Zoological Medicine in 2009. She worked in several small animal and exotic pet practices after qualifying from Edinburgh, before joining Bristol Zoo vet department as the University of Bristol RCVS Trust Senior Clinical Training Scholar in Zoo and Exotic Medicine and Surgery in 2006.  In 2010 she became a permanent staff vet at Bristol Zoological Society. Her research interests include Vitamin D and UVB provision for captive primates and animal training for veterinary procedures.


Richard Saunders MRCVS, DZooMed (Mammalian)

Richard is a RCVS Registered Specialist in Zoo and Wild Animal Medicine (Mammals).  He gained his B.Sc. and B.V.Sc. from Liverpool University and has worked in a charity wildlife clinic plus private veterinary practice, with exotic and domestic pets.  For the past 8 years he has worked in Bristol Zoo Veterinary Department and within private practice for exotic animals (especially mammal). He has supervised student projects on gorilla reproduction, infectious diseases in rabbits and gastrointestinal bacteria flora in birds.

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