Dr Richard Woods

Rich Woods

Associate Research Fellow
Environment and Sustainability Institute
University of Exeter

I am an ecologist with broad interest in behaviour and communication. I have a background in acoustic communication and cognition in group-living species, exploring how social structures and intraspecific relationships affect responses to vocalisations. My study systems have utilised wild birds, giving me the opportunity to explore the information individuals use to navigate the challenges of social living, in a natural environment. Recently, I have started to apply my research experience to the challenges of mitigating human-wildlife conflict. I am keen to explore the possibilities of using knowledge of species’ social communication and behaviour to inform methods of reducing conflict where it occurs. Through my work, I seek to investigate novel methods of reducing the negative effects of human-wildlife conflict, ranging from disease transmission and the spread of anti-microbial resistance (AMR), to the financial burden caused by pest species. Beyond reducing conflict, my work aims to provide positive implications for conservation.

My research is funded by a European Regional Development Fund through AgriTech Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. I am investigating the possibilities for using a new acoustic deterrent to exclude European starlings, Sturnus vulgaris, from certain areas of farms and airports. This work will assess the effectiveness of the deterrent in several contexts, using technology developed in collaboration with research and business partners, both local and international. We will also be looking at diseases and AMR that may be passed between livestock and starlings, with implications for global human health.

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