Dr Sarah Papworth

Personal profile


My research focuses on how the social and physical environment affects individual behaviour, and how this behaviour, can, in turn, alter that environment. I am particularly interested in hunting in the tropics and primate behaviour and always try to pursue research related to conservation. My approach to conservation biology includes human decisions and behaviour as part of a complex ecosystem, thus most of my work is interdisciplinary and has a strong human focus. I combine approaches and theory from ecology, anthropology and psychology.




Predator-prey interactions between humans and their animal prey

In this theme, I am interested in how spatial patterns of human and animal behaviour change our understanding of sustainability and conservation. For example, do differences in animal behaviour between hunted and unhunted areas change their detectability during censuses, and thus make comparisons between these areas more complex? How does the spatial distribution of resource use by humans change the sustainability of a hunting system? My experience in this area focuses on these interactions in systems where humans hunt primates, particularly in the tropics. I'm currently working with Dr. Lauren Coad of CIFOR to test predictions of hunting trap locations using environmental variables. Many national parks have snare removal teams, so being able to accurate predict where traps might be laid in novel areas could help prioritise areas for searching.


The effect of human behaviour and perceptions on conservation outcomes

I am interested in how conservation research is communicated and translated into conservation practice. This theme investigates all aspects of the conservation process, from the popularity of conservation research in online news, Facebook and Twitter, to understanding how the experiences of individuals impacts the decisions they make for conservation. I am particularly interested in shifting baseline syndrome, which describes how targets for conservation may shift as decision-makers forget, or lack experience of past ecological conditions. I have been awarded a Valuing Nature placement to investigate the use of dual-processing by conservation practitioners.


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