I am a biologist from Bristol, UK, currently working as a Postdoctoral Research Assistant at the University of Oxford. My scientific research interests are very broad and inter-disciplinary, and I have worked on projects within the fields of animal behaviour, bioacoustics, conservation, ecology, environmental science, and evolution. My current research focuses on how and why African Elephants (Loxodonta africana) use seismic communication, and I have ongoing projects focusing on the ecology and conservation of Madagascar's forests and vertebrate fauna, particularly cheirogaleid lemurs.
Since first becoming an undergraduate student in 2011, I have been fortunate enough to complete all of my further education within my home city. I obtained my BSc from the University of the West of England, where I studied Conservation Biology, and I then completed a research MSc at the University of Bristol, co-supervised by Bristol Zoological Society (2014 - 2016). My MSc research project focused on the behavioural ecology and conservation of the Endangered Sambirano Mouse Lemur (Microcebus sambiranensis) in North West Madagascar, and this was my first foray into the world of field research, data-analysis, grant applications, and applied conservation. This project ultimately shaped my research pathway, influenced my desire to attain a career within the biological research sector, and ignited my love for Madagascar and its unique habitats and animals.
For the next two years, I worked with Bristol Zoological Society on their research projects in Madagascar, and I studied the impact of vanilla cultivation and agroforestry on native floral and faunal biodiversity in the SAVA Region. In 2018, I started my PhD at the University of Bristol (also co-supervised by Bristol Zoological Society). My PhD research was heavily-impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and I was unable to conduct fieldwork during this time, so I utilised published data, meta-analyses, and ecological niche models to investigate the conservation biogeography of Madagascar’s cryptic, small-bodied cheirogaleid lemurs. In parallel, I also started a project focusing on how forest fragmentation and habitat degradation affects the demography, behaviour, and physiological health of nocturnal lemur populations in the Sahamalaza-Iles Radama National Park. This project finished in 2022.
Upon competing my PhD in mid-2021, I worked for five months as a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Bristol, before moving to the University of Oxford for my present position. The project I am currently working on investigates how and why African Elephants use seismic communication, with specific objectives to:
• Understand how seismic and acoustic components of elephant rumbles propagate in the natural environment
• Understand the biological importance of seismic and acoustic components of elephant rumbles
• Develop real-time capability of elephant monitoring and acoustic sensory systems that can detect elephant rumbles for conservation purposes
In parallel to my research roles, I am an Associate Editor for the journals Biodiversity and Conservation and Lemur News. I am also a participating member in the IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group Madagascar Section, an Explorer for the National Geographic Society, a student mentor for the Lemur Love NGO, and a member of the British Ecological Society, Society for Experimental Biology, American Society of Mammalogists and the UK Bioacoustics Special Interest Group.
Ⓒ Daniel Hending