I am a postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, Belgium. I work within the Wildlife Disease Research Group with An Martel and Frank Pasmans, with funding from the Research Foundation of Flanders (FWO). I am also a frequent guest of the Centre Tecnologic Forestal de Catalunya.
Almost all the work I do is aimed at avoiding the extinction of animal species. This involves a bit of ecology (mostly estimation and prediction of population dynamics), a bit of decision science (running workshops and applying tools for decision and risk analysis) and a lot of travelling.
My current main project is the risk assessment for the salamander chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans in Europe. This fungus has only recently been discovered in northern Europe, where it has most likely been introduced through the pet trade from its original range in Asia. It causes lethal chytridiomycosis in infected fire salamanders and has led to the collapse of their populations in the Netherlands. It is currently spreading to Belgium and Germany and the threat it poses to European biodiversity is unprecedented. My aim is link the knowledge of scientists and the needs of managers to find out if anything can be done to prevent a catastrophic decline in European salamanders, and if so, what, how, when and where.
During my PhD at the University of Melbourne and my first postdoc at the Zoological Society of London, I was involved in recovery planning for bats, birds, reptiles and amphibians all over the world. This has given me a chance to start new collaborations and friendships, particularly with John Ewen at the Zoological Society of London and Sarah Converse at the US Geological Survey. An especially exciting ongoing activity is the development and delivery of a training course for the IUCN Reintroduction Specialist Group.
These are words I use a lot in my papers. I am always happy to hear from prospective students or anyone interested in collaborations, whether scientists or managers.
Wildlife Disease Research Group
Department of Pathology, Bacteriology and Poultry Diseases
Salisburylaan 133, 9820 Merelbeke, Belgium