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Kathy is the Research Manager and Senior Scientist of Operation Wallacea’s Mexico project. Kathy works for the UK office, but is based in Mexico year round. Kathy has lived and worked in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico for 15 years, which started with her doctoral research on wild spider monkeys back in 2002. Having fallen in love with the extensive jungle and beautiful beaches of the Yucatan, Kathy decided that moving back to the UK was not something that she ever want to do! Kathy’s first experience with Operation Wallacea was as a research assistant on the Indonesian expedition in 2000 when she had just finished her undergraduate degree at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU). Kathy then joined the expedition the following year to collect data for her MSc thesis on Buton macaques awarded by the University of Liverpool. Kathy says that Operation Wallacea opened her eyes to the wonder of field work! From Indonesia, Kathy travelled out to Mexico to the Punta Laguna Reserve where she spent two wonderful years running around with wild spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi yucatanensis), collecting data for her PhD (University of Liverpool) focused on the regulation of social relationships with specific reference to sexual selection theory, and biological markets theory of behavioural exchanges.

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Episode Outline: 

  • [0.43] – Kathy’s background
  • [2.34] – Why Kathy moved to Mexico
  • [3.16] – What inspired Kathy to become a scientist
  • [4.18] – Involvement with Operation Wallacea
  • [7.25] – Main research objectives in Calakmul Biosphere Reserve
  • [14.01] – An introduction to the formation of an aguada and the restoration process
  • [18.48] – The difference between restoration work and rewilding
  • [20.58] – The reasoning behind Kathy’s restoration work and the results so far
  • [24.48] – Why it is necessary to collaborate with local communities (and a guest appearance from Kathy’s dog)
  • [31.41] – The implications of the gap in data due to Covid-19 shutdowns
  • [34.53] – Kathy’s favourite part of field work and her reliance on her team
  • [37.18] – Why monkeys hang out near the ruins and the influence of the ancient Mayans
  • [41.03] – Some of Kathy’s exciting experiences out in the field
  • [45.12] – What keeps Kathy fighting to protect biodiversity?
  • [48.22] – Advice for those starting their conservation career
  • [50.05] – What is Kathy looking forward to for the next field season?


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Wallace House, Old Bolingbroke, Spilsby, Lincolnshire PE23 4EX, UK
| +44 (0) 1790 763194 | info@opwall.com