Research Project Updates!

The students’ research projects are well underway, with all students having now begun fieldwork. Here, Elaine, Emily and Carla share updates on their projects as well as providing some context on what they hope to achieve from their research.

Elaine working hard at her computer


“I am using existing information about species held in zoos to examine reproductive success of original wild caught animals as a proxy for fitness. I’m interested in whether evolved life history traits such as such as body size, habitat utilisation and diet, among others, are associated with species response to translocation into captivity, as an example of an intensive conservation intervention.

I hope that this information can be used to determine whether some species are more challenged by conservation interventions, and perhaps enable us to better anticipate species responses to a changing world.”


Adult male sand lizard

“Marwell Wildlife has been part of a sand lizard (Lacerta agilis) captive breeding programme for reintroduction in partnership with Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC) Trust for over 25 years.

My research focuses on how individual differences among sand lizards affect the success of a reintroduction. In particular, I am looking at their behaviour to search for evidence of personalities, and whether these may have an impact on their tendency to disperse. This should inform further efforts to help conserve this beautiful, rare reptile in the UK.”


Carla checking reptile refugia to see what’s underneath!

“I am comparing grazing management systems across three sites in northern Hampshire and Surrey to see how grazing intensity affects reptile assemblages. I hope to be able to find out which form of management is most suitable for reptile species.

My data collection involves walking through the (very muddy) sites and lifting up reptile tins that have been placed to see which species are hiding underneath and basking on top. Aside from a few foot-in-bog incidents, so far it’s going well! Now that the weather has finally started to improve, the reptiles are coming out and I have seen many slow worms (Anguis fragilis), common lizards (Zootoca vivipara) and two sub-adult adders (Vipera berus)!

Over the coming weeks I will continue these reptile surveys three times per week, hopefully find some grass snakes, and start my vegetation surveys to look at the grazing intensity across the sites.”

A sub-adult adder which was sheltering underneath a tin (left) and a male common lizard basking on top of a tin (right)



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Category: 17-18 Cohort, Research Projects

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