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Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

Dr Sarah Crowley

Dr Sarah Crowley

Senior Lecturer in Human & Animal Geography

 Peter Lanyon 


Peter Lanyon Building, University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, Treliever Road, Penryn, Cornwall, TR10 9FE, UK


I am an animal geographer / anthrozoologist and environmental social scientist based in the Centre for Geography and Environmental Science (CGES). 

My research focuses on using social theory and research methodologies to investigate environmental challenges and conflicts; human relations with, and the sustainable management of, nonhuman animals; and the broader study of human-animal interactions (anthrozoology). I specialise in applying empirical research to contemporary conservation and environmental management issues, and particularly the management of introduced, re-introduced, and domestic species. I led the social research components of an interdisciplinary project that worked with cat owners to find effective, sustainable techniques to reduce hunting behaviour in domestic cats, without compromising cat welfare. My PhD research, focused on introduced and reintroduced species, led to the development of recommendations and tools to improve the effectiveness, sustainability and democratic credentials of wildlife management. 


2017 PhD 'Ecological Politics and Practices in Introduced Species Management' (University of Exeter)

2012 MA Anthrozoology (University of Wales Trinity Saint David)

2008 BSc Animal Behaviour (University of Chester)

Research group links

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Research interests

  • Collaborative, sustainable approaches to animal management and wildlife conservation
  • Applied, interdisciplinary research that seeks to address contemporary environmental challenges and conflicts
  • Anthrozoology and animal geographies

I am developing research projects relating to animal and environmental management, and am particularly interested in: 

  • Ecological politics of wildlife management and environmental conflict
  • Animals 'in and out of place', particularly:
    • introduced, translocated and re-introduced wildlife populations 
    • domestic animals in the wider environment, and
    • wild animals in domestic spaces
  • Wild attachments: the integration of wildlife species and populations into community and cultural identities
  • Nonhuman charisma
  • Sustainable relations with companion animals
  • Wildlife and environmental issues in visual media

Research projects

2021-2026 RENEW - Renewing biodiversity through a people in nature approach: I am a Co-Investigator on this NERC-funded, five year partnership programme aiming to put people at the centre of national biodiversity renewal in the UK. With the National Trust, I co-lead Ex-CASES, a solutions generator focusing on short-term 'missions' to address current, pressing challenges facing biodiversity. 

2021-2026 Fish Futures: Reimagining freshwater ecosystem management in Aotearoa New Zealand: I am an international partner on this project, led by the Cawthron Institute, which aims to bring together indigenous and pākeha voices with freshwater science and management to improve decision-making around the management of freshwater fish. I contribute subject expertise in relation to studying people's relations with introduced and native species, and expertise in qualitative and mixed social research methods. 

2017 -2020 Cats, cat owners and Wildlife: I led the delivery of an interdisciplinary project that worked with cat owners to explore the effectiveness and suitability of techniques for reducing domestic cat predation on vulnerable wildlife. I employed interviews, Q method, working groups and surveys to understand how cat owners think about and manage their pets’ hunting behaviour. I integrated this with ecological research on cat ecology and management techniques to further our understanding of the human-cat-wildlife triad, and to produce guidance for cat owners and interested organisations.

2013 - 2017 Ecological Politics and Practices in Introduced Species Management: My PhD research applied social scientific methodologies to understand and inform the management of monk parakeets in southeast England; Eurasian beavers in Devon; and grey squirrels throughout the UK. This research aimed to improve our understanding of the development, complexities and outcomes of social conflicts surrounding animal management and to explore diverse and emergent human-wildlife relationships. I identified multiple ways in which people respond and relate to introduced wildlife and explored how these differences can produce both socio-political tensions and accords. My findings also led to the development of recommendations and tools to improve the effectiveness, sustainability and democratic credentials of wildlife management. 

Research networks

I was a member of the EU COST action ParrotNet (a European research network investigating the spread, impacts and management of introduced parakeets) from 2015-2017. I also contributed to the Science and Evidence Forum for the River Otter Beaver Trial (2015-2020).


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Journal articles

Crowley S, Cecchetti M, McDonald R (In Press). Our wild companions: Domestic cats in the Anthropocene. Trends in Ecology and Evolution
Mill AC, Crowley S, Lambin X, McKinney C, Maggs G, Robertson P, Robinson NJ, Ward A, Marzano M (In Press). The challenges of long-term invasive mammal management: lessons from the UK. Mammal Review Abstract.
Jaric I, Courchamp F, Correia R, Crowley S, Essl F, Fischer A, González-Moreno P, Kalinkat G, Lambin X, Lenzner B, et al (In Press). The role of species charisma in biological invasions. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Jarić I, Crowley SL, Veríssimo D, Jeschke JM (2024). Flagship events and biodiversity conservation. Trends Ecol Evol, 39(2), 106-108. Abstract.  Author URL.
Jarić I, Normande IC, Arbieu U, Courchamp F, Crowley SL, Jeschke JM, Roll U, Sherren K, Thomas-Walters L, Veríssimo D, et al (2024). Flagship individuals in biodiversity conservation. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 22(1). Abstract.
Marino F, McDonald RA, Crowley SL, Hodgson DJ (2024). Rethinking the evaluation of animal translocations. Biological Conservation, 292
Shaw M, Dunn M, Crowley S, Owen N, Verissimo D (2024). Using photo editing to understand the impact of species aesthetics on support for conservation. PEOPLE AND NATURE, 6(2), 660-675.  Author URL.
White RL, Jones LP, Groves L, Hudson MA, Kennerley RJ, Crowley SL (2023). Public perceptions of an avian reintroduction aiming to connect people with nature. People and Nature, 5(5), 1680-1696. Abstract.
Dando TR, Crowley SL, Young RP, Carter SP, McDonald RA (2023). Social feasibility assessments in conservation translocations. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 38(5), 459-472.
Marino F, Crowley SL, Williams Foley NA, McDonald RA, Hodgson DJ (2023). Stakeholder discourse coalitions and polarisation in the hen harrier conservation debate in news media. People and Nature, 5(2), 668-683. Abstract.
Bavin D, MacPherson J, Crowley SL, McDonald RA (2023). Stakeholder perspectives on the prospect of lynx <i>Lynx lynx</i> reintroduction in Scotland. People and Nature, 5(3), 950-967. Abstract.
Cranston J, Crowley SL, Early R (2022). <scp>UK</scp> wildlife recorders cautiously welcome range‐shifting species but incline against intervention to promote or control their establishment. People and Nature, 4(4), 879-892. Abstract.
Crowley SL, DeGrange L, Matheson D, McDonald RA (2022). Comparing conservation and animal welfare professionals' perspectives on domestic cat management. Biological Conservation, 272
Phillips BB, Crowley SL, Bell O, McDonald RA (2022). Harnessing practitioner knowledge to inform the conservation of a protected species, the hazel dormouse <i>Muscardinus avellanarius</i>. Ecological Solutions and Evidence, 3(4). Abstract.
Kahane F, Osborne J, Crowley S, Shaw R (2022). Motivations underpinning honeybee management practices: a Q methodology study with UK beekeepers. Ambio, 51(10), 2155-2168. Abstract.
Cecchetti M, Crowley SL, McDonald J, McDonald RA (2022). Owner-ascribed personality profiles distinguish domestic cats that capture and bring home wild animal prey. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 256
Cecchetti M, Crowley SL, Wilson-Aggarwal J, Nelli L, McDonald RA (2022). Spatial behavior of domestic cats and the effects of outdoor access restrictions and interventions to reduce predation of wildlife. CONSERVATION SCIENCE AND PRACTICE, 4(2).  Author URL.
Cecchetti M, Crowley SL, Goodwin CED, Cole H, McDonald J, Bearhop S, McDonald RA (2021). Contributions of wild and provisioned foods to the diets of domestic cats that depredate wild animals. Ecosphere, 12(9). Abstract.
Crowley SL, Cecchetti M, McDonald RA (2021). Evidence for managing cats, cat owners, and predation of wildlife. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 19(10), 548-549.
Cecchetti M, Crowley SL, Goodwin CED, McDonald RA (2021). Provision of High Meat Content Food and Object Play Reduce Predation of Wild Animals by Domestic Cats Felis catus. Current Biology, 31(5), 1107-1111.e5.
Bogaard A, Allaby R, Arbuckle BS, Bendrey R, Crowley S, Cucchi T, Denham T, Frantz L, Fuller D, Gilbert T, et al (2021). Reconsidering domestication from a process archaeology perspective. World Archaeology, 53(1), 56-77.
Crowley S, Silk MJ (2021). The educational value of virtual ecologies in Red Dead Redemption 2. People and Nature
Silk M, Correia R, Veríssimo D, Verma A, Crowley SL (2021). The implications of digital visual media for human–nature relationships. People and Nature, 3(6), 1130-1137.
Crowley SL, Cecchetti M, McDonald RA (2020). Diverse perspectives of cat owners indicate barriers to and opportunities for managing cat predation of wildlife. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 18(10), 544-549. Abstract.
Cecchetti M, Crowley SL, McDonald RA (2020). Drivers and facilitators of hunting behaviour in domestic cats and options for management. Mammal Review, 51(3), 307-322. Abstract.
Swan GJF, Silva-Rodríguez EA, Márquez-García M, Crowley SL (2020). For livestock losses, a conservation scientist's ‘exceptional’ may be a farmer's ‘unacceptable’: a commentary to Ballejo et al. (2020). Biological Conservation, 250
Swan GJF, Redpath SM, Crowley SL, McDonald RA (2020). Understanding diverse approaches to predator management among gamekeepers in England. People and Nature, 2(2), 495-508. Abstract.
Bavin D, MacPherson J, Denman H, Crowley SL, McDonald RA (2020). Using Q‐methodology to understand stakeholder perspectives on a carnivore translocation. People and Nature, 2(4), 1117-1130. Abstract.
Shackleton RT, Richardson DM, Shackleton CM, Bennett B, Crowley SL, Dehnen-Schmutz K, Estévez RA, Fischer A, Kueffer C, Kull CA, et al (2019). Explaining people's perceptions of invasive alien species: a conceptual framework. Journal of Environmental Management, 229, 10-26. Abstract.
Crowley SL, Cecchetti M, McDonald RA (2019). Hunting behaviour in domestic cats: an exploratory study of risk and responsibility among cat owners. People and Nature, 1(1), 18-30. Abstract.
Beever EA, Simberloff D, Crowley SL, Al-Chokhachy R, Jackson HA, Petersen SL (2019). Social–ecological mismatches create conservation challenges in introduced species management. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 17(2), 117-125. Abstract.
Crowley SL, Hinchliffe S, McDonald RA (2019). The parakeet protectors: Understanding opposition to introduced species management. Journal of Environmental Management, 229, 120-132. Abstract.
Silk MJ, Crowley SL, Woodhead AJ, Nuno A (2018). Considering connections between Hollywood and biodiversity conservation. Conservation Biology, 32(3), 597-606. Abstract.
Crowley SL, Hinchliffe SJ, McDonald RA (2018). Killing squirrels: Exploring motivations and practices of lethal wildlife management. Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space
Crowley SL, Hinchliffe S, McDonald RA (2017). Conflict in invasive species management. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 15(3), 133-141. Abstract.
Crowley SL, Hinchliffe S, Redpath SM, McDonald RA (2017). Disagreement About Invasive Species Does Not Equate to Denialism: a Response to Russell and Blackburn. Trends Ecol Evol, 32(4), 228-229.  Author URL.
Crowley SL, Hinchliffe S, McDonald RA (2017). Nonhuman citizens on trial: the ecological politics of a beaver reintroduction. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 49(8), 1846-1866. Abstract.
Crowley SL, Hinchliffe S, McDonald RA (2016). Invasive species management will benefit from social impact assessment. Journal of Applied Ecology, 54(2), 351-357. Abstract.
Robinson BS, Inger R, Crowley SL, Gaston KJ (2016). Weeds on the web: conflicting management advice about an invasive non‐native plant. Journal of Applied Ecology, 54(1), 178-187. Abstract.
Crowley SL (2014). Camels out of place and time: the dromedary (Camelus dromedarius) in Australia. Anthrozoos, 27(2), 191-203. Abstract.
Batt S (2009). Human attitudes towards animals in relation to species similarity to humans: a multivariate approach. Bioscience Horizons, 2(2), 180-190.

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External Engagement and Impact

Editorial responsibilities

Associate Editor: People and Nature

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Supervision / Group

Postgraduate researchers

  • Martina Cecchetti (Cats, cat owners and cat predation of wildlife) - 2nd Supervisor
  • Tom Dando (Social and ecological feasibility of wildcat restoration) - 2nd Supervisor
  • Emily Strong (Social and ecological dimensions of lead ammunition use) - Primary Supervisor


  • Martina Cecchetti Ecology and management of predation of wildlife by domestic cats (2nd supervisor)

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Office Hours:

2023/4 Term 2: This is my non-teaching term, so my office hours vary week by week. Send me an email to book a 15 or 30 minute chat.

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