Earthwatch Scientist, Christopoher Beirne, Ph.D.

Christopoher Beirne, Ph.D.

Director of Wildlife Programs
Osa Conservation

I am a research ecologist who studies how wildlife communities respond to anthropogenic disturbance and, ultimately, the ecosystem implications of such changes. I have spent over 15 years living and working in areas of extreme biodiversity (including Ecuador, Costa Rica, Peru, and Gabon) or the extreme cold (Canada), and contributed to more than 50 scientific publications along the way.

I now apply my skills to managing Osa Conservation’s ambitious Wildlife programs—leveraging state-of-the-art technology and boots-on-the-ground fieldwork to provide the evidence base to safeguard the region's wildlife populations from environmental degradation and climate change.

Why are you interested in your research focus?/h6>

The reality of modern conservation is that tropical landscapes must work for both humans and wildlife simultaneously; thus, understanding how each can co-exist has become the core theme of my research. If we want to safeguard wildlife populations against future climate change, we need to use all of the tools we have at our disposal—from understanding basic species ecology to habitat restoration and population translocations—and we need applied research to back up their use.

What sparked an interest in her area of research?

Her interests range from charity effectiveness and the future of conservation practice to the potential for rewilding as a transformational solution to many current and forthcoming conservation challenges. Her current scientific research focuses on prioritizing climate lifeboats across the Tropics and operationalizing conservation to maximize co-benefits for climate change and biodiversity loss. She works primarily in the Global South, collaborating closely with conservation practitioners worldwide and colleagues in other disciplines, including economics and human development.

What is one of your favorite moments in the field?

The three weeks I spent in the Cerros del Sira, Central Peru, looking for the critically endangered Sira Curassow is high on the list. We trekked for days to reach the survey site through brutal conditions… and I never even got to see one with my own eyes! Luckily, we had camera traps with us, which we used to capture this elusive and little-known species on film for the first time.

Education
  • Ph.D: University of Exeter, 2011–2015
  • MRes: University of Aberdeen, 2010–2011
  • BSc: University of Edinburgh, 2004–2008
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