International Women’s Day 2020: Abi Gazzard
Evidence-based conservation for urban hedgehogs
Understanding how hedgehogs behave in our towns and cities is essential in order for us to create successful conservation strategies. Abi has been studying how hedgehogs use our urban gardens and green spaces.
How did you come to lead your conservation team?
I am working on a PhD part-funded by PTES, researching urban hedgehog ecology. I carried out my MSc research project on hedgehogs with my current PhD supervisor, took a short break working for a journal, and then came back for the PhD.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
Balancing my time between research, work and life, since I am undertaking my PhD on a part-time basis. This has been really rewarding in some ways but difficult in others. I am also about to become a mother, which I’m sure will present some new challenges!
What has been your biggest achievement in the field in the past year?
Continuing my hedgehog surveys in Reading – for the fourth year running – whilst leading another hedgehog project in Oxford, holding down a job, and being pregnant! I have now collected hundreds of records of Reading ‘hogs and it’s always nice to ‘meet’ the same hedgehog again a year or two later. Hopefully this data will tell us more about hedgehog population ecology in urban areas.
What would you say to aspiring women who want a future in conservation?
If you are particularly interested in a specific taxa or area of conservation, then don’t be afraid to contact workers, researchers, or academics who are active in that field. You never know, they may have advice or even an opportunity for you.