Katie Bickerton

Katie Bickerton


I am a conservation biologist with interests in maintaining biodiversity and applying mathematical models to conservation. I graduated from the University of Exeter’s Cornwall campus in 2018 with a BSc in conservation biology and ecology, during which my main research project focused on invasive plant life histories. I started my MRes in computational methods in ecology and evolution at Imperial College London the following September. My masters project focused on shark migration and examined whether migratory and residential individuals behave differently, with the aim to predict which individuals would migrate and therefore were most at risk from commercial fisheries.

When I can escape my desk, I spend as much time doing fieldwork as possible. For the past two years I’ve spent my summers working for the Society for the Protection of Turtles in Northern Cyprus, where I run one of their three bases. This has involved monitoring nesting females, protecting nests from predators and helping hatchlings to make it to the sea, as well as mothering volunteers and becoming a part time mechanic. In the UK, I’m a trained marine mammal medic and have helped to rescue stranded dolphins and seal pups. The weirdest call out I received, but sadly couldn’t attend, was to help return a beached shoal of mackerel to the sea.

Katie Bickerton

Ecology and Biodiversity

Institute of Zoology

PhD title: Evidence based decision making for reintroduction success: translocating threatened prey reptiles into an endemic predator-packed system in Mauritius.

Frequency of reintroductions and reintroduction publications are increasing however the integration of science within decision making remains limited and the majority of research is carried out after the reintroduction event, which does not allow for changes in the ecosystem to be examined.

This project aims to reintroduce an endangered reptile prey species, the lesser night gecko, into Round Island, Mauritius, where the endemic predator is still present. Mauritian reptile reintroductions have been largely successful but have generally relied on reintroducing species in trophic order, i.e. establishing the prey before introducing the predator. Round Island supports the last semi-intact natural reptile community in Mauritius however is dominated by generalist predators therefore a bottom-up reintroduction is not possible.

Knowledge from previous reintroductions and statistical modelling will be used to plan and test multiple reintroduction strategies in collaboration with experts from ARIES DTP hosts ZSL and the University of Kent, as well as the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, the Mauritian government and NGO, the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation. The results of this will be used to carry out a reintroduction on Round Island and build a more general framework for reintroducing prey species into predator packed systems, for both academic and non-academic decision makers.

Further Information

I volunteer with the British Ecological Society conservation special interest group as a student rep and social media officer (@BESConservation) and help to run events. I’m also a volunteer marine mammal medic with the BDMLR (as mentioned above) and have been volunteering at a wildlife hospital in Hampshire for the last 6 months whenever possible.

I really enjoy science communication and feel it is important when working in conservation. I would like to be more involved with public engagement.

I started my own tutoring business in 2015, teaching maths and sciences to 16-18 year olds, and have now taught over
thirty students, including some with disabilities such as anxiety, dyslexia and Asperger’s.