Research Fellows Directory
Dr Samuel Turvey
Institute of Zoology
My research encompasses both past and present human impacts on biodiversity, and assessing the usefulness of novel sources of data to reconstruct the dynamics of extinction events through time and inform conservation management. I am interested in the history and prehistory of human-caused mammal extinctions - their geographic, taxonomic and ecological patterns; their drivers, duration, magnitude and ecosystem impacts; and the usefulness of this environmental history for conservation of today’s threatened species. This research focuses mainly on reconstructing pre-human ecosystems and the chronology, dynamics, and patterns of vulnerability and resilience shown by past mammal extinctions in China and south-east Asia, the global regions which are experiencing the highest levels of modern-day species loss, but which contain environments that have been modified by cumulative human activities for thousands of years; incorporating data on past population trends and responses shown by Asian mammals within a 'conservation palaeontology' framework can therefore generate unique insights to aid species recovery strategies. My research investigates past extinctions across different timescales, from the Late Pleistocene and Holocene Epochs through the historical period into the recent past, and utilizes a range of data sources to generate a strengthened scientific evidence-base for conservation, from fossil and zooarchaeological records, to historical archives such as Chinese Imperial-era gazetteers, to oral histories and local ecological knowledge recorded in contemporary communities across Asia. This research focuses in particular on extremely rare Asian mammal species, such as freshwater cetaceans and Annamite ungulates, that cannot be studied easily or effectively using standard ecological field methods.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)