Junior Research Fellow, Conservation Science Group, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge
Dr Ben Phalan works in the Conservation Science Group in the Department of Zoology. Currently his main area of research is on the impacts of agriculture on tropical faunas. With global demand for food set to double by 2050, and emerging biofuel markets, there is an increasing need to understand how food production affects biodiversity, and how people can continue to increase agricultural output with least impact on wild nature.
He is working on a project to evaluate the overlaps between current and future crop production and areas of importance for bird conservation in the tropics. This work is a collaboration between the Department of Zoology, BirdLife International, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the World Conservation Monitoring Centre, with additional funding from the Isaac Newton Trust.
He is also interested more widely in ways of identifying and resolving trade-offs between conservation and development; in the ecology and conservation of tropical forests, especially in West Africa; and in defining appropriate baselines and objectives for conservation interventions.
For his PhD (2005 - 2009), Ben did fieldwork in Ghana in oil palm plantations and small-scale farms to ascertain the yields, profits and biodiversity value of different land-uses, using forest reserves as a baseline. This work should help to inform conservation strategies in tropical forest countries. That work was funded by a Domestic Research Studentship, St. John's College, the RSPB, the British Ornithologists' Union and the Robert Gardiner Memorial Scholarships.
Previously, Ben worked for the British Antarctic Survey as a field assistant on Bird Island. He completed his undergraduate degree in the Zoology Department at Trinity College Dublin.