Research – December 2015

Photo courtesy of The Conversation: Members of the famous Marsh Pride lions. Make it Kenya

Photo courtesy of The Conversation: Members of the famous Marsh Pride lions. Make it Kenya


Dr Freya St John
Duffy, R., F. A. V. St John, B. Büscher, and D. Brockington. 2015. Toward a new understanding of the links between poverty and illegal wildlife hunting. Conservation Biology. Doi: 10.1111/cobi.12622.

Dr Simon Black
Simon A. Black, “System Behaviour Charts Inform an Understanding of Biodiversity Recovery,” International Journal of Ecology, vol. 2015, Article ID 787925, 6 pages, 2015. doi:10.1155/2015/787925
More information on the impact of this research can be found via the University’s News Centre.

Successful funding

Congratulations to Tanya Humle who this week secured $75,000 of funding from the Arcus Foundation for her project: Surveying and assessing oil palm use in chimpanzees in degraded landscapes in Sierra Leone, West Africa.

research-tanya-insetThe habitat of wildlife, especially that of great apes, is increasingly being shaped by agro-industrial developments. Such transformations of the landscape and natural habitats can have profound impacts on species’ survival. Vegetable oils, especially palm oils, are among the most rapidly expanding agricultural sectors (Clay, 2004). With a global production of 45 million tons in 2010, the oil palm is by far the most productive oil crop and is, on its own, capable of meeting global demand for vegetable oils which is predicted to reach 240 million tons by 2050 (Corley, 2009). In some African countries, more than two-thirds of the land suitable for oil palm development is located outside protected areas and overlaps with areas of great ape presence (Wich et al., 2014). Sierra Leone presents a particularly dramatic case in point, as more than 56% of chimpanzees in the country live outside protected areas (Brnic et al., 2010), while approximately 80% of these areas are suitable for oil palm development (Wich, et al., 2014). However, much of this landscape already harbours native wild oil palms which chimpanzees rely on for food and nesting. The current proposal aims to conduct a pilot study in Sierra Leone where wild chimpanzees occur in a typical agricultural-forest mosaic dominated by wild and/or feral oil palms. Line transects in such a landscape are not a viable approach to assessing local chimpanzee population density and size and to what extent chimpanzees rely on the native oil palm as a resource for food or nesting. It is therefore urgent to develop other, more effective, survey methods in such areas which are particularly susceptible to oil palm and agro-industrial development. Current large scale agricultural plans and investments in Sierra Leone urgently compel a better understanding chimpanzees’ current reliance on oil palms to inform land-use policy and development plans, and to better manage the long term conservation of chimpanzees.

research-tanya-inset2This project aims to improve survey methodologies of wild chimpanzees in degraded landscapes harbouring oil palms and propitious to agricultural development and to further our understanding of the reliance of chimpanzees on the oil palm in such areas. It aims to achieve this by using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and camera traps. This study also aims to test the value of using UAV technology to improve survey efficiency of chimpanzees in degraded landscapes harbouring oil palms.

SAC Research in the Media

Lydia Tiller featured recently in The Conversation writing in response to a report that Maasai tribesmen were allegedly poisoning Marsh Pride lions who were encroaching on their livestock. Read Lydia’s insightful article on The Conversation website.

Upcoming Research Events

2016 Joint BES and CCI Annual Symposium #BEScci
DICE is sponsoring and involved with an exciting conservation conference in spring 2016:
Making a Difference in Conservation: Improving the Links Between Ecological Research, Policy and Practice
April 11 – 13 2016, Cambridge
Our meeting aims to bring together the ecological research community and those involved in policy and government, to assess the value and applicability of a range of techniques for improving the decision making process. By working together, we aim to enable delegates to get greater impact from their research, and to improve policies and practice. For more information visit the website.

Other Research Activity

Digital Recruitment Noticeboard – for Kent researchers
Researchers at Kent now have their own digital recruitment notice board if they wish to advertise their surveys, interviews or experiments. ‘Call For Participants’ is a simple advertising platform focused on bringing opportunities for taking part in academic research to the general public. Today researchers from over 300 universities have used Call For Participants to advertise their surveys, interviews and other research studies. We also provide support and guidance on how to advertise research and communicate to the public.

The University of Kent has its own dedicated noticeboard on Call For Participants so staff, students and the public can visit a single webpage to discover the research happening

To find out more about Call For Participants please contact Matt: or visit one of the links below:
Advertise a research study:
Researcher support:
Our Blog:


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