Tom Pavey

Ecologist & Oxford Sparks Ambassador

There is relatively little research conducted combining studies on the climate and biodiversity crises. As fundamentally entangled areas of science, my research aims to help fill that gap using a mixture of computer modelling and fieldwork data. I look at how big cats are affected by climate change and create projections of how their range and behaviour will shift with increasing temperatures, changing rainfall patterns and more extreme weather events. I work closely with international colleagues, particularly with partners from across continental Africa, to address the challenges facing these charismatic species. Inspired by nature documentaries and a love of felids, I hope to contribute to a framework which could be applied to help address the threats posed to a range of wildlife by anthropogenic climate change.

My journey has spanned several topics – I initially did an integrated Master’s in Geological Sciences at the University of Leeds, specialising in palaeoecology and climate change throughout time. After several computer-based research positions on tree rings and, separately, palaeo-food webs, I undertook another Master’s at Leeds in Biodiversity and Conservation, investigating rewilding projects in Portugal. During this degree, I was fortunate enough to undertake fieldwork in Kenya for two weeks, quantifying the number of ungulates across habitat types. The experience sparked my passion for African ecology, so I was very keen to undertake my PhD with WildCRU (the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit) here at Oxford!

Cartoon of how climate change is affecting the habitat of African lions, by Coline Weinzaepflen.

Artwork by Coline Weinzaepflen.