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Wildlife Research Co-Operative

A Wildlife Research Co-Operative was recently established in response to the continuing expansion of the University’s joint research programme with the UK’s National Wildlife Management Centre. The Unit was modelled on a successful U.S. programme facilitating co-operative research between government and academic wildlife scientists.

The Wildlife Research Co-Operative aims to:

  • Support collaborative scientific work
  • Exchange and develop skills, knowledge, and experience
  • Provide training to students and staff

Our interests broadly relate to the ecology and management of wildlife and the natural environment. We have specific interest and expertise in:

  • Ecology and management of wildlife diseases, particularly tuberculosis and rabies
  • Ecology and management of invasive non-native species
  • Bird management and migration, including bird-strike risk management
  • Social networks in wild animals and their consequences for management
  • Conflicts involving wildlife
  • Social dimensions of wildlife management
  • Evolutionary and molecular genetics of wildlife

This is only the latest development in a partnership that was begun in 2008 with a joint PhD studentship; this was followed by additional collaborations in research, training, and teaching. In December 2010, the partners signed a Memorandum of Understanding to endorse our programme of collaborative research activity.

Fast facts about the Wildlife Research Co-Operative

PartnersCollaboratorsSources of funding

There are two main partners in the Unit:

National Wildlife Management Centre, now part of the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency

University of Exeter’s College of Life and Environmental Sciences, primarily through its Centre for Ecology and Conservation and Environment and Sustainability Institute

We collaborate with a broad range of institutions, including:

University of Newcastle (research partners in a second collaborative wildlife centre with NWMC)

Other colleagues in Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency

Colleagues at Food and Environment Research Agency

Our work is supported by:

Defra (Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs)

Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)

European Social Fund

Research projects

To date, NWMC and the University of Exeter have jointly supported 28 postgraduate studentships (15 PhD and 13 research Masters), including two part-time PhDs and two MSc by Research for Fera staff. We have also supported two cohorts of two-year postgraduate training programmes (MSc/MRes) based at the NWMC’s Woodchester Park field station.

Teams of Exeter Masters students receive on-the-job training in aspects of wildlife disease management—including badger trapping and vaccination—while undertaking personal research projects into the ecology and control of bovine TB in badgers and cattle.

Selected publications

Drewe JA, O’Connor HM, Weber N*, McDonald RA, and Delahay RJ. 2013. Patterns of direct and indirect contact between cattle and badgers naturally infected with tuberculosis. Epidemiology and Infection DOI:

Drewe JA, Weber N*, Carter SP, Bearhop S, Harrison XA, Dall SRX, McDonald RA, and Delahay RJ. 2012. Performance of proximity loggers in recording intra- and inter-species interactions: a laboratory and field-based validation study. PLoS ONE. DOI:

Graham J*, Smith GC, Delahay RJ, Bailey T, McDonald RA, Hodgson D. 2013. Multi-state modelling reveals sex-dependent transmission, progression and severity of tuberculosis in wild badgers. Epidemiology and Infection. DOI:

Moussy C*, Hosken DJ, Mathews F, Smith GC, Aegerter JN, and Bearhop S. 2013. Migration and dispersal patterns of bats and their influence on genetic structure. Mammal Review. DOI:

Robertson A*., McDonald RA, Delahay RJ, Kelly SD, and Bearhop S. 2012. Whisker growth in wild Eurasian badgers Meles meles: implications for stable isotope and bait marking studies. European Journal of Wildlife Research. DOI:

Weber N*, Bearhop S, Dall SRX, Delahay RJ, McDonald RA, and Carter SP. 2012. Denning behaviour of the European badger (Meles meles) correlates with bovine tuberculosis infection status. Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology. DOI: