applied multidisciplinary scientist & researcher
meta-science, Evidence-based conservation & biosecurity
Skills in data science,
ai and ml, & programming
aWARD-WINNING AMATEUR Wildlife photographer
at ug & pg level
campanologist, runner, hiker, naturalist & wildlife gardener in spare time
Current work: Henslow Fellowship
My fellowship project has two key stands: 1. Finding ways to directly combine and assess different forms of evidence (e.g., the scientific literature and indigenous and local community knowledge) into evidence-based decision-making; and 2. Developing new approaches to assessing the reliability and relevance of evidence to different decision-making contexts. I want to ensure that in the future, evidence-based decision-making combines diverse sources of knowledge for decision-making, whilst making sure to assess the reliability and relevance of each piece of evidence so we can provide tailored recommendations to decision-makers based on their local context. I am also particularly interested in how the effectiveness of conservation interventions varies geographically, taxonomically, and socioeconomically, and whether we can predict this – i.e., how can we predict whether a conservation intervention is likely to work in a given local context?
A key and rewarding part of my work is co-designing and developing online tools to help practitioners in the field to determine the best conservation interventions for them to use in their local patch for a given issue using a structured evidence-based process. This has involved a fruitful collaboration with over a dozen different conservation organisations in the UK and abroad. I am continuing to work to create decision support and evidence assessment tools that combine different forms of evidence and knowledge to make better evidence-based decisions in conservation.
My past and current research aims to answer how we can better provide decision-makers with relevant and robust evidence to make more evidence-based decisions, specifically in biodiversity conservation. In my thesis (
Determining the Biases and Consistencies in the Evidence for Conservation) and five published papers (see
Publications), I quantified two types of biases that present challenges for Evidence-Based Conservation: 1) within-study biases; and 2) between-study biases in studies testing conservation interventions.
Within-study biases: the importance of study design
My research has partially focused on how study design affects the weight of evidence provided by study findings. Many different designs are used to estimate the true effect of interventions, including gold standard randomised experiments and observational designs (often used when experiments are unfeasible because of cost, ethics, or practicalities). To quantify the relative reliability of commonly used study designs in the social and environmental sciences, I first simulated the performance of designs using empirically derived estimates of the magnitude of bias affecting each design (from a varied set of 51 ecological datasets provided by 60 international collaborators). Second, I undertook empirical, pairwise within-study comparisons of the estimates given by different designs. These innovative comparisons exploit the nestedness of simpler designs within more complex designs, allowing me to resample components of a complex design’s dataset to mimic the results of simpler designs. I could then use hierarchical Bayesian models to quantified the relative amounts of bias associated with each design. Now one of my major research interests is understanding how to quantitatively integrate information on study biases into meta-analyses to more rigorously synthesise studies with very different designs.
Between-study biases: biases and gaps in evidence
My research has also focused on quantifying the ‘known knowns’ and ‘known unknowns’ in relation to ‘what works’ in conservation. My work has helped to prioritise which interventions we need to test, and where, by quantifying the severe gaps and biases in the literature testing the effectiveness of conservation interventions. I used the large Conservation Evidence database, which contains study metadata for tests of interventions and found that entire families of primates, and orders of amphibians and birds, were either poorly represented or absent in the evidence base. Furthermore, more rigorously designed studies for amphibians and birds tended to be located, almost exclusively, in North America, Europe, and Australasia, and fewer studies were typically conducted in locations with more species threatened with extinction. My work highlights the need for greater prioritisation in how and where we test interventions to provide relevant evidence for decision-making where conservation is required the most.
Since these biases will take considerable time to address (an unaffordable luxury in conservation), I am planning future research to determine how we can apply and transfer research findings across local contexts to inform decision-makers with relevant evidence from a biased global evidence base.
Publications & Research Outputs
Christie, A.P., Morgan, W.H., Salafsky, N., White, T.B., Irvine, R., Boenisch, N., Chiaravalloti, R.F., Kincaid, K., Rezaie, A.M., Yamashita, H., Sutherland, W.J. (Accepted). Assessing diverse evidence to improve conservation
decision-making. Conservation Science and Practice.
[OSF Preprint: https://doi.org/10.31219/osf.io/ujk6n].
Smith, R.K., Morgan, W.H., Al-Fulaij, N., Amano, T., Bowkett, A.E., Christie, A.P., Downey, H., Frick, W.F., O’Brien, D., Ockendon, N., Oppel, S., Petrovan, S.O., Righton, D., Tinsley-Marshall, P., Worthington, T.A., Sutherland, W.J. (Accepted). Co-designing a toolkit for evidence-based decision making in conservation: processes and lessons. Ecological Solutions and Evidence.
Martin, P.A., Christie, A.P., Shackelford, G., Hood, A., Wang, S., Li, B., Morgan, W., Lee, M., Aldridge, D.C., Sutherland, W.J. (2023). Flexible synthesis to deliver relevant evidence for decision-making. PNAS. 120, e2221911120. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2221911120
Hood, A.S.C., Shackelford, G.E., Christie, A.P., Usieta, H.O., Martin, P.A., Sutherland, W.J. (2023). A systematic map of cassava farming practices and their agricultural and environmental impacts using new ontologies: Agri-ontologies 1.0. Ecological Solutions and Evidence. 4, e12249. https://doi.org/10.1002/2688-8319.12249
Miller, J., White, T. B., Christie, A.P. (2023). Parachute conservation: Investigating trends in international research. Conservation Letters. 16, e12947. https://doi.org/10.1111/conl.12947 [Research Highlight in Nature Eco. and Evol.].
Madin, J.S., Baird, A.H., Connolly, S.R., Dornelas, M.A., Álvarez-Noriega, M., McWilliam, M.J., Barbosa, M., Blowes, S.A., Cetina-Heredia, P., Christie, A.P., Cumbo, V.R., Diaz, M., Emms, M.A., Graham, E., Hansen, D., Hisano, M., Howells, E., Kuo, C.-Y., Palmer, C., Hong, J.T.C., Zhi En Teo, T., Woods, R. (2023). Six years of demography data for 11 reef coral species. Ecology. 104, e4017. https://doi.org/10.1002/ecy.4017
White, T.B., Petrovan, S.O., Bennun, L.A., Butterworth, T., Christie, A.P., Downey, H., Hunter, S.B., Jobson, B.R., zu Ermgassen, S.O.S.E., Sutherland, W.J. (2023). Principles for using evidence to improve biodiversity impact mitigation by business. Business Strategy and the Environment. 1– 15. https://doi.org/10.1002/bse.3389
Petrovan, S., Al-Fulaij, N., Christie, A.P., Andrews, H. (2022). Why link diverse citizen science surveys? Widespread arboreal habits of a terrestrial amphibian revealed by mammalian tree surveys in Britain. PLOS ONE. 17, e0265156. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0265156 [Featured on BBC Springwatch, the Guardian, and Independent].
White, T.B., Petrovan, S.O., Christie, A.P., Martin, P.A., Sutherland, W.J. (2022). What is the Price of Conservation? A Review of the Status Quo and Recommendations for Improving Cost Reporting. BioScience. 72, 461-471. https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biac007 [Featured on Mongabay].
Christie, A. P., Amano, T., Martin, P. A., Shackelford, G. E., Simmons, B. I., Sutherland, W. J. (2022). Innovation and forward-thinking are needed to improve traditional synthesis methods: A response to Pescott and Stewart. Journal of Applied Ecology. 59, 1191– 1197. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2664.14154
Christie, A.P., Downey, H., Frick, W. F., Grainger, M., O’Brien, D., Tinsley-Marshall, P., White, T. B., Winter, M., & Sutherland, W. J. (2021). A practical conservation tool to combine diverse types of evidence for transparent evidence-based decision-making. Conservation Science and Practice, e579. https://doi.org/10.1111/csp2.579
Christie, A.P.,* White, T.B.,* Martin, P.A., Petrovan, S., Littlewood, N.A., Rocha, R., Bladon, A.J, Sainsbury, K.A., Taylor, N.G., Mupepele, A.-C., Smith, R.K., Sutherland, W.J. Reducing publication delay to improve the efficiency and impact of conservation science. PeerJ 9:e12245. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.12245 (*Joint-first authorship).
Amano, T., Berdejo- Espinola, V.B., Christie, A.P., Willott, K., Akasaka, M., et al. (2021). Tapping into non-English-language science for the conservation of global biodiversity. PLOS Biology 19(10): e3001296. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3001296 (Major contribution to analyses and data figures).
Sutherland, W.J., Taylor, N.G., Aldridge, D.C., Martin, P., Rhodes, C., et al. (2021). A solution scan of societal options to reduce transmission and spread of respiratory viruses: SARS-CoV-2 as a case study. J Biosaf Biosecurity. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jobb.2021.08.003
Christie, A. (2021). Determining the biases and consistencies in the evidence for conservation (Doctoral thesis). https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.68583
Shackelford, G.E., Martin, P.A., Hood, A.S.C., Christie, A.P., Kulinskaya, E., et al. (2021). Dynamic meta-analysis: a method of using global evidence for local decision making. BMC Biology. 19, 33. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12915-021-00974-w
Downey, H., Amano, T., Cadotte, M., Cook, C.N., Cooke, S.J., et al. (2021). Training future generations to deliver evidence-based conservation and ecosystem management. Ecological Solutions and Evidence. 2, e12032. https://doi.org/10.1002/2688-8319.12032
Christie, A.P., Abecasis, D., Adjeroud, M., Alonso, J.C., Amano, T., et al. (2020). Quantifying and addressing the prevalence and bias of study designs in the environmental and social sciences. Nature Communications, 11, 6377. (Editors’ Highlight). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-20142-y
Spake, R., Mori, A.S., Beckmann, M.A., Martin, P.A., Christie, A.P., et al. (2020). Implications of scale dependence for cross-study syntheses of biodiversity differences. Ecology Letters. 24, 374-390. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12915-021-00974-w
Christie, A.P., Amano, T., Martin, P.A., Petrovan, S.O., Shackelford, G.E., et al. (2020). The challenge of biased evidence in conservation. Conservation Biology. 35, 249-262. https://doi.org/10.1111/cobi.13577
Christie, A.P., Amano, T., Martin, P. A., Petrovan, S. O., Shackelford, G. E., et al. (2020). Poor availability of context-specific evidence hampers decision-making in conservation. Biological Conservation, 248, 108666. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2020.108666
Junker, J., Petrovan, S.O., Arroyo-Rodriguez, V., Boonratana, R., Byler, D., et al. (2020). Severe Lack of Evidence Limits Effective Conservation of the World’s Primates. Bioscience, 70, 794-803. (Major contribution to analyses and data figures). https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biaa082
Christie, A.P., Amano, T., Martin, P.A., Shackelford, G.E., Simmons, B.I., et al. (2019). Simple study designs in ecology produce inaccurate estimates of biodiversity responses. Journal of Applied Ecology, 56, 2742-2754. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2664.13499
Sutherland, W.J., Taylor, N.G., MacFarlane, D., Amano, T., Christie, A.P., et al. (2019). Building a tool to overcome barriers in research‐implementation spaces: The conservation evidence database. Biological Conservation, 238, 108199. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2019.108199
Geldmann, J., Alves-Pinto, H., Amano, T., Barlett, H., Christie, A.P., et al. (2020). Insights from two decades of the Student Conference on Conservation Science. Biological Conservation, 243, 108478. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2020.108478
Simmons, B.I., Balmford, A., Bladon, A.J., Christie A.P., De Palma, A., et al. (2019). Worldwide insect declines: An important message, but interpret with caution. Ecology and Evolution, 9, 3678-3680. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.5153
House J.E., Brambilla V., Bidaut L.M., Christie A.P., Pizarro O., et al. (2018). Moving to 3D: relationships between coral planar area, surface area and volume. PeerJ, 6, e4280. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.4280
Campaign for Nature. 2020. A Key Sector Forgotten in the Stimulus Debate: the Nature-Based Economy. Available from: https://www.campaignfornature.org/s/White-PaperFinal_sml.pdf ( https://www.campaignfornature.org/to-recover-from-global-recession-we-must-invest-in-nature).
Museum of Zoology:
Applied Ecologist blog:
Evidence Champions series: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAprj0cLPLDcH5cZNLeMXHzkMOxtZf7lq
A selection of my award-winning wildlife photography.