Christian Devenish has a BSc in Environmental Biology from the University of Manchester. Between 2004 and 2014, he worked in conservation and sustainability organisations in South America, including the Instituto von Humboldt, a government Biodiversity Research Institute, based in Bogota, Colombia; BirdLife International, at the Americas Secretariat, based in Quito, Ecuador, and CONDESAN, an NGO focused on sustainable development in mountain regions, based in Lima, Peru. His PhD was on the distribution and abundance of endemic dry forests birds in northwest Peru, which he completed in 2017 at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). He continued at MMU as a postdoc and associate lecturer, as well as doing a postdoc at University of East Anglia. Before joining Keele as a lecturer in Ecology, he worked at NatureMetrics, a company providing eDNA services.
Research and scholarship
Much of my research focuses on estimating species’ occurrences and abundances, incorporating statistical modelling and spatial analysis to establish patterns of occurrence and abundance across species’ ranges and their relationships with environmental factors. As part of field data collection, I’m interested in different methods of recording species presences and abundances, including transects, camera traps, acoustic recorders and eDNA sampling. I use methods such as distance sampling and occupancy models to estimate abundance and occurrence, as well as Species Distribution Models to estimate habitat suitability. I also use automated methods and machine learning to identify animal vocalisations from acoustic data. I also have wide experience in spatial ecology and GIS methods, including using remote sensed predictors from satellite Earth observation combined with field data.
My previous research has had strong practical applications for conservation, including land use planning, restoration, red listing and priority setting. In the UK, I have worked with Natural England, mapping the condition of peatland ecosystems and modelling bird distributions to inform planning management. I have also worked extensively in the tropics, including Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Java, for example, informing protected area management with the National Parks Authority in Peru.
My teaching has focused on Conservation Ecology programmes, at undergraduate and postgraduate level, especially in statistics, data analysis and GIS. I have also taught modules including field skills, study design, research methods, biodiversity data management, international conservation mechanisms, site-based conservation, conservation strategies and protected areas management. My teaching draws on my own research and industry experience working in international conservation NGOs (e.g. BirdLife International), collaborating with the public sector (e.g. Natural England) and the private sector (NatureMetrics).
I have co-supervised four PhD students, and supported several other MSc and PhD students in data analysis, leading to at least nine joint publications.
Collaborations and grants awards
I have obtained research funding from Highways England, Natural England and NERC Newton Fund.