Benjamin J D Birch
I completed my undergraduate degree in conservation biology and ecology at the University of Sheffield. During this time, I became particularly interested in the ways in which anthropogenic disturbances alter community structure through changes in species diversity and composition, and the broader impacts this can have on an ecosystem level.
Specifically, my research aims to identify the impacts of land-use change on avian phylogenetic and functional diversity in the western Amazon, which is the largest remaining expanse of tropical hinterland on the planet where avian assemblages reach their global maxima. To achieve this, I will be analysing an extensive data set to gain insights into the diversity of evolutionary lineages that occur under differing land-use regimes, and the unique traits and resulting ecosystem functions these lineages provide.
In doing so, I hope to inform future conservation strategies of the important role that maintaining evolutionary distinctiveness has on preserving ecosystem function and resilience in tropical forests.
I grew up in Australia and was fortunate enough to live within the Royal National Park, NSW, for much of my teenage years which helped foster my passion for wildlife and the outdoors. In my free time I enjoy hiking and wildlife watching, both close to home in the Peak District and further a field when I get the chance.
Another by-product of growing up in Australia is my love of the ocean, and particularly my passion for scuba diving, a hobby temporarily on hold as the marine life in Sheffield seems to be lacking. I also enjoy bike riding and weight lifting, as well as a pint or two down the pub with friends and family.