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Student Perspective | Bethany Gadd | PhD

The research outcomes of my project in Gibraltar has the potential to influence global wildlife-conservation debates in other locations and nature reserves experiencing similar unique human-wildlife conflicts.
14th December 2021
Bethany Gadd, originally from Gibraltar, is investigating societal perceptions and interactions between Barbary Macaques and residents in Gibraltar for her PhD.

What is your research project about?

My research aims to investigate societal perceptions and interactions between Barbary Macaques and residents in Gibraltar. It analyses the potential for a citizen science management plan to play a role in their provision and management in the Upper Rock Nature Reserve. This project suggests that understanding societal perceptions is key to informing future management and conservation plans. My goal is to emphasise the need to understand the complex societal perceptions and implement appropriate macaque monitoring and conservation within the Upper Rock Nature Reserve. The project is still in development, having entered my second year in my part-time PhD.

What type of research has it involved and what skills have you learned?

I am using a mixed methods approach to my research, as an interdisciplinary approach is required to fully answer my research questions. This will involve a mixture of quantitative and qualitative methods which will be undertaken in the form of field studies and questionnaires. I will aim to understand the culturally complex perception of macaques using survey techniques built to investigate themes surrounding management, human-wildlife conflicts and conservation efforts. I will collect quantitative data in the form of interaction and animal behavioural observations within the reserve between visitors and macaques. This ecologically rich data will contribute to designing a citizen science monitoring programme suitable for the macaques in the Upper Rock Nature Reserve.

Why should the public know about this topic?

The Barbary Macaques are a key component of Gibraltar’s history and is the main driver of tourism in the Upper Rock Nature Reserve. As a population, it is in our interest to increase our knowledge about their ecology and management in order to understand how to mutually co-exist in a way that heavily decreases the negative impacts on the macaque population. The macaques are also on the IUCN Red list due to deforestation and trafficking in the Moroccan Middle Atlas region. We are therefore, fortunate to have a thriving population in Gibraltar, and without them, the composition and nature of tourism in Gibraltar would be very different. Learning about the macaques will help us engage and interact the population in an ecologically appropriate way. Conservation education has the potential to increase conservation awareness and create a more peaceful equilibrium between wildlife and people.

What is the wider impact of your research?

The social perceptions of the macaques amongst residents of Gibraltar is not known, and this is essential information to obtain when thinking and implementing management and monitoring plans for the future. By getting people involved in their monitoring and management, this will allow people to engage with the macaques, as well as contribute to ecological research.
On a global scale, the observation of interactions between macaques and humans can be applied to other tourist sites found In Northern Morocco as well as across East Asia, where similar methodologies can be repeated.
The research outcomes of my project in Gibraltar has the potential to influence global wildlife-conservation debates in other locations and nature reserves experiencing similar unique human-wildlife conflicts. Investigation of the potential of using a citizen science approach to implement management and conservation engagement, could provide a baseline study for other countries and nature reserves to follow a similar path. It could shed a light on how you could manage a semi-wild population of animals in a defined area within a nature reserve. The collection of quantitative and qualitative data within my project can also assist in answering questions related to human-wildlife perceptions, like “What influences the perception of wildlife and how can one define wildness.”

Barbary Macaque Awareness and Conservation (BMAC) is an NGO that works to conserve the Endangered Barbary macaque and its habitat to promote knowledge of the species. If you are interested in more information and reading about their conservation projects visit their website; and if you can, please donate for World Monkey Day.

  • PhD

    PhD by Research

    Our PhD by research programme is based on independent study, guided by your assigned supervisors and support system. It typically takes a minimum of three years to complete full-time, or a minimum of five years when studied part-time.[...]

    FT 3 to 5 Years/ PT 4 to 8 Years

    No Placement option

    Full/Part Time

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