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Dr Kathy Slater

Research Manager and Senior Scientist Operation Wallacea Mexico

My role at Operation Wallacea is a bit different from most as I work full-time for the UK office, but I am based in Mexico year round. My first experience with Operation Wallacea was as a research assistant on the Indonesian expedition in 2000, followed by a return to Indonesia to collect data for my MSc thesis on Buton macaques awarded by the University of Liverpool. From Indonesia I travelled out to Mexico where I spent two wonderful years running around with wild spider monkeys Ateles geoffroyi yucatanensis), collecting data for my PhD (University of Liverpool) focused on the regulation of social relationships and biological markets theory of behavioural exchanges. After completing my PhD, I worked as the primate scientist, and then senior scientist for the Opwall expedition in Honduras, and also designed and helped coordinate the Opwall elephant behaviour project in South Africa while still living in Mexico and continuing my research on spider monkeys.

Since 2012, I have designed and coordinated projects in the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve (CBR) and the Mexican Caribbean Biosphere Reserve (MCBR). The project in CBR aims to monitor the impact of climate change on flora and fauna and use the results of long-term monitoring to inform management decisions in the reserve and develop sustainable livelihoods with indigenous communities. We provided the first standardized monitoring data for the reserve that was used to update the management plan, we have helped the reserve to obtain UNESCO mixed world heritage status, and we are currently liaising with reserves in Belize and Guatemala to move towards standardized biodiversity monitoring for the Selva Maya.

The project in MCBR is focussed on assessing the impact of tourism on the sea turtle population living in the seagrass ecosystem in Akumal Bay. Data were used to help develop the management plan for the bay when it became a protected area in 2017 and has since been used to assess the efficacy of the management plan in reducing stress related behaviour in the turtles and minimizing human impact on the seagrasses. We are currently investigating methods of sustainable management of seagrasses to maintain the turtle population now that the problems with chronic stress in the turtles caused by unregulated snorkel tours have been greatly improved.



Zerr, K. M., Imlay, T. L., Horn, A. G., & Slater, K. Y. 2022. Sick of attention: The effect of a stress‐related disease on juvenile green sea turtle behaviour in the face of intense and prolonged tourism. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems. https://doi.org/10.1002/aqc.3773

Spaan, D., Ramos-Fernández, G., Bonilla-Moheno, M., Schaffner, C. M., Morales-Mávil, J. E., Slater, K.Y., & Aureli, F. 2020. Anthropogenic habitat disturbance and food availability affect the abundance of an endangered primate: a regional approach. Mammalian Biology, 100(3), 325-333.

Hoskins, H., Burdekin, O., Dicks, K., Slater, K.Y., McCann, N.P., Jocque, M., Castañeda F.E, Reid, N. 2018. Non-volant mammal inventory of Cusuco National Park, north-west Honduras: reporting the presence of Jaguar, Panthera onca (Linnaeus, 1758), and demonstrating the effects of zonal protection on mammalian abundance. Check List 14(5):877-891

  1. Anastácio, R., Gonzalez, J. M., Slater, K.Y. & Pereira, M. J. 2017. Software for improved field surveys of nesting marine turtles. Scientific Reports 7: 10796, DOI:10.1038/s41598-017-11245-6.

Colston, T.J., Barão-Nóbrega, J.A.L., Manders, R., Lett, A., Willmott, J.M., Cameron, G., Hunter, S. Radage, A., Littlefair, E., Williams, R., Lopez Cen, A. & Slater, K.Y. 2015. Amphibians and reptiles of the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, México, with new records. Checklist, 11(5): 1759.

Stafford, R., Goodenough, A.E., Slater, K.Y., Carpenter, W., Collins, L, Cruickshank, H., Downing, S., Hall, S., McDonald, K., McDonnell, H., Overs, B., Spiers, L., Stetter, M., Zitzer, H., & Hart, A.G. 2012.

Inferential and visual analysis of ethogram data using multivariate techniques. Animal Behaviour 82: 563-569

Doughty, L.S., Slater K.Y., Zitzer, H, Avent, T & Thompson, S. 2014. The impact of male contraception on dominance hierarchy and herd association patterns of African elephants (Loxodonta africana) in a fenced game reserve. Global Ecology and Conservation 2: 88-96

Schaffner, C.M., Slater, K.Y. & Aureli, F. 2012. Age related variation in male–male relationships in wild spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi yucatanensis). Primates 53: 49-56

Slater, K. Y., Schaffner, C. M. & Aureli, F. A. 2009. Sex differences in the social relationships of wild spider monkeys. American Journal of Primatology 71: 21-29.

Slater, K. Y., Schaffner, C. M. & Aureli, F. A. 2008. Female-directed male aggression in wild Ateles geoffroyi yucatanensis. International Journal of Primatology 29: 1657-1669.

Slater, K. Y., Schaffner, C. M. & Aureli, F. A. 2007. Embraces for infant handling: Evidence for a biological market? Animal Behaviour 72: 455-461.

Aureli, F. A., Schaffner, C. M., Verpooten, J., Slater, K. Y. & Ramos-Fernandez, G. 2006. Raiding parties in male spider monkeys: Insights into human warfare? American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 131: 486-497

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