Senior Research Officer, Wetland Science

sarah.davies@wwt.org.uk

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About me

I have loved nature since early childhood and always knew I wanted to work with wildlife. After finishing my degree in Zoology at the University of Nottingham I volunteered on a toucan monitoring project in Costa Rica where I first got that “research buzz”. This led me to an MSc in Conservation at UCL and a research project on the wonderful world of pond restoration – a topic I am still passionate about. My work experience is broad; from working on a nature reserve in Devon to rearing corncrakes for a reintroduction project at the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust. Before working for the WWT I undertook my PhD at Cardiff University on the effects of climate change on the diet of songbirds, and this is where my appreciation of wetlands really took shape. I am fascinated by the role of ecology in conservation science, from disentangling species interactions to quantifying ecosystem services.

Work

My role is to gather data around the benefits of wetlands to species and the wider landscape. This is achieved primarily through biodiversity monitoring and measuring water quality at a number of different wetland sites. I am particularly interested in the broadening our understanding of the value of aquatic subsidies to terrestrial wildlife and I have been carrying out a research project on the farmland ponds in Somerset, using emergence traps to monitor aquatic insects and measure how this influences bird and bat activity in the surrounding area. A large part of my job is to help design robust long term monitoring projects, and to train and support our citizen scientists and volunteers in the field.

Skills

  • Ecological surveys, notably for water quality, invertebrates, bats (using acoustic monitoring) and birds including the use of acoustic monitoring and aquatic and terrestrial eDNA methods.
  • Bird ringing (licensed C ringer for passerines) and biometrics
  • Molecular lab work including metabarcoding for diet analysis
  • Statistical analysis in SPSS and R
  • Communication, citizen science training and outreach

Publications

Davies. S.R. 2020. Projecting the effects of climate change on prey selection and dietary competition in communities of European reedbed warblers. PhD thesis, Cardiff University.

Davies, S.R., Sayer, C.D., Greaves, H., Siriwardena, G.M. Siriwardena and Axmacher, J.C. A new role for pond management in farmland bird conservation. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 233, pp. 179-191.