Staff Directory

 mg 2311

Contact Details


  • Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching (HE; University of South Wales).
  • PhD in Applied Ecology and Conservation (Improving methods for conservation-based assessments of abundance and habitat use in tropical forest birds; Manchester Metropolitan University, MMU).
  • MSc Conservation Biology (MMU).
  • BSc Zoology (The University of Liverpool).


  • I am a wildlife ecologist and conservation biologist with academic and research interests that include avian ecology and conservation, biodiversity survey techniques, conservation management of wildlife in modified terrestrial landscapes (e.g. sun bears in SE Asia), including tropical forest and UK upland restoration approaches. I have developed and delivered multidisciplinary forest-based conservation research projects in Indonesia, the Philippines, China, Pakistan and Peru, and under- and postgraduate student field courses to Honduras, Malaysia, Mexico and South Africa.


  • In 1997 I undertook my MSc research on primates in the Tambopata National Reserve, Peru and have been working in tropical and sub-tropical forests ever since, alongside more recent involvement in the montane forests of the Western Himalayas.
  • In 1999 I joined an MMU research expedition to assess the conservation status of the Palawan Peacock-pheasant (Polyplectron napoleonis), an endemic and globally threatened species in the Philippines. This led on to my PhD on improving conservation assessments of lowland forest birds in the Philippines, and post-doctoral research building sustainable leadership capacity in avian conservation in the biodiversity hotspots of Sichuan in southwest China and the Philippines, and funded by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund and Chester Zoo.

  • I have also worked extensively as an ornithologist for UK environmental consultancies (Scott Wilson Group, now AECOM, Haworth Conservation Ltd and Biocensus) using a range of survey and monitoring methods to support preliminary ecological appraisals, impact assessments and mitigation strategies for proposed land development projects.


  • From 2020 – USW REF2021 Lead for Unit of Assessment B7 Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences.
  • 2015-18 BSc (Hons) International Wildlife Biology Course Leader
    Click here for details on our BSc (Hons) International Wildlife Biology course.


  • Umar, M., Hussain, M., Malik, M & Lee, D.C. (in press). Spatio-temporal patterns in avian community composition of Deva Vatala National Park, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan. Pakistan Journal of Zoology.
  • Awan, M.N. & Lee, D.C. (2014). Further nesting records of Cheer Pheasant Catreus wallichi in Jhelum valley, Azad Kashmir, Pakistan. BirdingASIA 20: 67-69.
  • Li, R.G., Lu, G., Yang, J., Zhang, X.L. & Lee, D.C. (2006). Monitoring Galliformes and biodiversity in southwest China. Annual Review of the World Pheasant Association 2005/2006: 28.
  • Mallari, N.A.D. & Lee, D.C. (2006). Management planning for the Palawan Peacock-pheasant. Annual Review of the World Pheasant Association 2005/2006: 27.




Current research:

  • Landscape suitability assessment for black grouse in the Brecon Beacons National Park and environs. This MRes project aims to: quantify and ground-truth current habitat quality, fragmentation and patch isolation, and current land use in the Park and adjacent WWV Convergence area; classify habitat quality and land uses, and relate these spatial data to known black grouse habitat associations and dispersal distances; and model habitat, land use and black grouse data sets to identify areas potentially suitable for black grouse, within the Park and West Wales and Valleys Convergence area. This research is supported by the Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships and Brecon Beacons National Park Authority.
  • Landscape use and suitability for key upland birds in the Brecon Beacons National Park and environs. This MRes project aims to: quantify population distributions, landscape use and suitability for upland bird species of principal importance in Wales; and link these ecological datasets to land-use and management practices. this is needed for effective decision-making, including priority-mapping, that supports future-proofed conservation management of species and their habitats, identifying how these areas could be best managed to enhance upland bird populations, and engaging local communities in the conservation of the landscape and its natural resources. This research is supported by the Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships and Brecon Beacons National Park Authority.
  • The ecological consequences of Diadema antillarum dieback on degraded Caribbean coral reefs. This PhD focuses on the ecological role of a keystone herbivore in Honduras and aims to: characterise the population status of D. antillarum on a classic contemporary (Utila) reef system and unique (Banco Capiro) reef system; determine the role of a suite of ecological variables as potential barriers to D. antillarum recovery; classify the genetic basis of different urchin populations; and conduct preliminary trials combining artificial reef construction with D. antillarum translocation at degraded reef sites. This project is supported by Operation Wallacea and The University of South Wales.
  • Tropical forest conservation and restoration: With an emphasis on enhancing and applying mixed-survey techniques to assess the conservation status and functional requirements of key tropical species, including Agile Gibbon, Malayan Sun Bear and Sundaic galliforms, in degraded lowland forests. The conservation management focus is to produce robust population data and habitat requirement evaluations along gradients of ecological restoration, assessing the conservation value of these modified landscapes, and guiding effective forest conservation and restoration management strategies.
  • Galliformes of the western Himalayas, Pakistan: I support field research of the Himalayan Nature Conservation Foundation that focuses on assessing and monitoring the conservation status of montane galliformes in northern Pakistan, alongside other avian and mammal species in the region.

Previous research:

  • Biodiversity value of translocated soils in Forest Wood Quarry, Pontyclun, South Wales. This project was funded by HeidelbergCement’s Quarry Life Award and focused on three biotic groups – soil micro-organisms, plants and butterflies. Comparing these elements quantitatively in/on undisturbed and disturbed soils, we ascertained the biodiversity value of translocated soils and whether they act as suitable substrates for natural habitat regeneration, adding biodiversity value to the quarry landscape. Findings of this project are transferable to other quarries within HeidelbergCement’s portfolio. Click here for a history of this project. In October 2018, our project won the UK research section of the Quarry Life Awards 2018..
  • Supervision of PhD research quantifying the structural and spatial composition of tropical rain forest in Cusuco National Park, Honduras. This research investigated the effects of altitude, microclimate, and anthropogenic disturbance on forest structure, composition and carbon storage. The overall aim was to inform conservation and management strategies for this important montane forest landscape.

Areas of Expertise

  • Avian ecology and conservation
  • Biodiversity survey techniques
  • Ecosystem restoration, particularly tropical forests and UK uplands
  • Wildlife ecology and conservation biology

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