Dr Olivia Bell

University of Exeter

I am an ecologist interested in the way individual animals, populations and communities respond to ecological change, and how populations can be effectively conserved. I am currently working on the hazel dormouse species conservation strategy pilot project, evaluating what realistic management actions may be most effective at restoring hazel dormice to favourable conservation status in Devon and Dorset.

My recent PhD research applied ecological theory, specifically the niche variation hypothesis, to predict how individuals and populations may alter their trophic ecology following disease and top carnivore decline. Tasmanian devil populations are currently in decline due to a transmissible cancer, devil facial tumour disease (DFTD), and this has had reverberating impacts through Tasmanian ecosystems. I applied stable isotope analysis to ask whether Tasmanian devils change their trophic ecology following devil facial tumour disease (DFTD) infection, and whether the isotopic niches of Tasmanian devils and their closest relative, spotted-tailed quolls, have responded to devil decline, or whether they are sensitive to other ecological pressures such as human-modified habitat.

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