Rebecca O' Sullivan

Rebecca O' Sullivan
University of Sussex · School of Life Sciences

Master of Research

About

4
Publications
1,447
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Introduction
Broadly, I am interested in applied conservation and carnivores. More specifically, this includes the use of carnivores as umbrella species and flagship species for conservation. I am also interested in human-wildlife conflict and finding the best methods for mitigating this conflict. With regards to carnivores, I am interested in looking at felids, both large and small, and the interspecific relationships that they maintain, including predator-prey interactions.
Education
September 2018 - September 2019
University of Sussex
Field of study
  • Animal Behaviour
September 2013 - September 2017
University College Cork
Field of study
  • Zoology

Publications

Publications (4)
Thesis
Full-text available
As part of my Master of research (MRes) degree, I conducted a camera trapping survey in a remote reserve in Northern Malawi. This was done in collaboration with Conservation Research Africa and Carnivore Research Malawi with data contributed by Lilongwe Wildlife Trust and Biosphere Expeditions. The aim of this study was to assess the species compos...
Technical Report
Prior to this study, the nearest sighting of miombo genet to VMWR was 300 km away in Zambia. According to the IUCN range map, the nearest confirmed record is 300 km from VMWR in Zambia. Although this species is not thought to be threatened, the population trend is poorly understood. This note presents a new recorded location for this species as par...
Research
Full-text available
As part of a master’s level module in Rewilding and Ecosystem Services (833C1) at the University of Sussex, I was part of a group which investigated how young people can become more engaged with nature, with a focus on young people in Brighton in the United Kingdom. The 15-25 year old demographic is known to be a difficult target for nature engagem...
Thesis
For my undergraduate final year dissertation, I conducted a behavioural study on the newlyintroduced Asiatic lion pride in Fota Wildlife Park (FWP). In May 2016, two female lions were moved from Helsinki Zoo to FWP. In July, a male lion from Santillana der Mar was added to the pride. This study focused on the formation of this captive pride and the...

Projects

Projects (3)
Archived project
As part of a master’s level module in Rewilding and Ecosystem Services (833C1) at the University of Sussex, I was part of a group which investigated how young people can become more engaged with nature, with a focus on young people in Brighton in the United Kingdom. The 15-25 year old demographic is known to be a difficult target for nature engagement. In this report, we first investigated the barriers to engagement, including education, social and personal barriers. Secondly, we used a social media campaign on Instagram using hashtags ‘#wildbrighton’ and ‘#makenaturecoolagain’ to generate excitement about the wildlife in Brighton. As part of this, we produced a poster design, which advertises this campaign and celebrates Brighton’s local wildlife. Lastly, we conducted an extensive online survey, which resulted in 319 responses, including 50 from within Sussex.
Archived project
For my undergraduate final year dissertation, I conducted a behavioural study on the newlyintroduced Asiatic lion pride in Fota Wildlife Park (FWP). In May 2016, two female lions were moved from Helsinki Zoo to FWP. In July, a male lion from Santillana der Mar was added to the pride. This study focused on the formation of this captive pride and the changes in their behaviour over time, including the introduction of new individuals, mating behaviours and external pressures such as zoo visitors, weather and temperature. This was done through ad libitum, focal and scan sampling. This experiment was conducted over 28 days with 140 hours of observations. The duration that each animal spent engaging in each behaviour was recorded and analysed. The statistical software SPSS was used to analyse the data. Kruskal-Wallis tests were used to compare the behaviours across each variable including time block, month, sex, visitor block and weather type. When the Kruskal-Wallis tests showed significant results, Mann-Whitney U tests were performed to determine significant pair-wise relationships. It was found that lions can become accustomed to a new enclosure over only a few weeks, and habituation towards the nearby stimulus of a European Bison (Bison bonasus) occurred in as little as 16 days. Oestrus was induced in a 2 year old female after only 56 days of being mixed with the male. During mating, the lions appeared to show a natural affinity for privacy with mating occurring more often later in the day and when there were fewer visitors present. The weather and temperature did not affect the lion’s behaviour in a negative way suggesting that the temperate climate present in the study site was suitable for keeping lions in captivity.
Archived project
As part of my Master of research (MRes) degree, I conducted a camera trapping survey in a remote reserve in Northern Malawi. This was done in collaboration with Conservation Research Africa and Carnivore Research Malawi with data contributed by Lilongwe Wildlife Trust and Biosphere Expeditions. The aim of this study was to assess the species composition and distribution in the reserve and provide management recommendations to aid the future conservation of these species. During 8 weeks of fieldwork in Malawi, I analysed footage from 70 camera stations which was collected over 543 total trapping days. This was the first large-scale camera trapping study to be conducted in the reserve. I analysed this data using QGIS mapping software and R statistical software. I identified a total of 37 species including 17 carnivores. These were subdivided into 3 large carnivore species and 14 mesocarnivores. Four of these had never been seen in the reserve before. One species, the Angolan Genet, was found to be over 300km outside of its previously known geographic range, and a paper was subsequently published about this discovery. It was also shown that there is a higher density of carnivores near the boundary of the reserve, especially in the southeast around Lake Kazuni. This is an area of high human use, which leads to concerns about humanwildlife conflict. The results of this study suggests that this area should be considered a high priority when addressing conflict.