Having had a lifelong interest in natural history, and birds in particular, I graduated from a three-year undergraduate degree in Applied Environmental Science at King’s College London in 2002. I then spent the majority of the following eight years working as an ecological consultant, specialising in ornithology and herpetology, on a wide range of development projects across the UK.

Having worked in the corporate environmental sector for so long, and experiencing all of the benefits and disadvantages that went with it, I decided to enrol on a full-time Conservation Science MSc program at Imperial College London in the autumn of 2010. The course reignited my interests in conservation research and I subsequently decided to undertake a bird conservation-orientated PhD.

I’ve been fascinated by the spectacle of bird migration since an early age, and also have a particular interest in the declining avifauna of the Mediterranean pseudo-steppe. I was therefore delighted when I was offered the chance to work on a project concerning the conservation of the European Roller (Coracias garrulus) in Portugal and Cyprus.

All Publications

Finch, T., Saunders, P., Avilés, J., Bermejo, A., Catry, I., de la Puente, J., Emmenegger, T., Mardega, I., Mayet, P., Parejo, D., Račinskis, E., Rodriguez-Ruiz, J., Sackl, P., Schwartz, T., Tiefenbach, M., Valera, F., Hewson, C., Franco, A., Butler, S.


A pan-European, multipopulation assessment of migratory connectivity in a near-threatened migrant bird,

in Diversity and Distributions



pp. 1051–1062

Full Text UEA Repository



Key Research Interests

My main research interests include the study of bird migration, assessing the impacts of habitat and climate change upon migratory bird species, and the use of such research in the development of evidence-based conservation interventions.

My PhD

My project aims to understand the factors responsible for the decline of the European roller in the Mediterranean, including comparison of eastern and western populations (in Portugal and Cyprus). It will also seek to explain why conservation measures implemented to assist the threatened Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni), a sympatric species with a very similar ecology to the roller, have not also benefited my study species.

More specifically the project will explore a range of factors that may explain recent observed roller population changes, including; nest site selection and availability, foraging habitat selection and its impact upon breeding success, differences in the migratory routes of the eastern and western populations, and the selection of wintering areas and overwintering mortality rates.

The project findings will contribute to our understanding of the role of habitat and/or climate change upon changes in the distribution and populations of the European roller in the Mediterranean region.

Research Group Membership

Primary supervisor: Dr Aldina Franco (UEA).
Secondary supervisors: Dr Simon Butler (UEA); Dr Ines Catry (Centro de Ecologia Aplicada Prof. Baeta Neves); and Dr Phil Atkinson (British Trust for Ornithology).