Environment Centre Wales (3rd floor) Deiniol Road, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 2UW
Twitter account: @amygresham48
As someone who has always been passionate about the importance of wildlife conservation, I started my academic career knowing that I wanted to learn more about the natural world in order to do all I could to preserve it. I studied for a BSc in Zoology at the University of Nottingham, where I gained fundamental knowledge about ecology, animal behaviour and conservation biology which inspired me to continue working in this field. During my undergraduate degree, I completed a field internship studying foraging cognition of wild hummingbirds in Canada, which showed me the highs and lows of fieldwork and the wonderful experiences that came with them. During my undergraduate degree, alongside my passion for wildlife, I developed a strong interest in research.
With this experience in hand, I decided to continue with University and studied for a MSc in Conservation & Biodiversity with the University of Exeter. This course included an amazing 2 week field course to Kenya, where I saw first-hand the front line of African wildlife conservation and was lucky enough to experience the incredible megafauna there. I opted for a thesis topic which was ecologically interesting but still underpinned by conservation and had a fieldwork focus: effects of forest fragmentation on the nesting behaviour of blue tits in the French Pyrenees. This project involved 4 months of fieldwork out in the mountains, which was an awesome experience and gave me confidence in designing field protocols and working in a research team. On finishing my Master’s degree, I decided that I wanted to continue on the path of research in ecology and conservation.
My PhD is focusing on how fallow deer affect woodland habitat structure in the Elwy Valley in North Wales. At high abundances, deer can cause significant damage to forests through high browsing intensity. As deer populations are expanding across the UK, this raises concerns for the forestry industry and wildlife conservation. Impacts include removal of the understorey structure that provides shelter for birds and small mammals and reductions in plant species diversity. While deer impacts on forests have been previously studied, few studies have specifically evaluated individual deer species ecology and related this to impacts on the environment. The aim of my research is to establish how fallow deer are impacting woodlands in the Elwy Valley and whether this is reflected in any habitat use or diet preferences, with the aim of identifying woodlands at risk of damage by fallow deer as their range continues to expand.