Stephanie Brittain


Contact details

Skype: StephBrit87








I am interested in the relationship between people and the environment and the need for accurate and cost effective monitoring methods. I am particularly interested in the use of social science for conservation as I believe the resource needs and ecological knowledge of local people should be understood and incorporated into conservation research if subsequent interventions are to be effective and sustainable. My past experience has focussed on the use of social science to gather data on natural resource consumption patterns in South-East Asia. I have also conducted research on on the use of interview-based occupancy analysis and for the rapid assessment of the distribution and abundance of forest elephants in Cameroon.

Current research

My current research focusses on the challenge of monitoring species over large spatiotemporal scales. I am interested in the ways in which social data can be used for population monitoring to better understand the drivers of population change and as a means of better including local people in the conservation of their environment and natural resources. For many wildlife species, monitoring over large spatiotemporal scales remains a serious challenge. At the root of this challenge lies tension between monitoring methods that prioritise accuracy, and those that emphasise long-term practicality. This trade-off between effectiveness and cost is a pervasive and unresolved problem in biodiversity monitoring. One possible solution has been to draw on the experience of local people in order rapidly to condense information over areas and timescales that cannot be tackled using conventional surveys. However, while there are some good examples of the integration of local participation into ecological monitoring, it remains underdeveloped, and many questions remain about its effective application. This project will evaluate and develop the use of interview-based occupancy analysis for monitoring widespread wildlife populations, working closely with villages adjacent to the Dja Faunal Reserve, Cameroon

Supervisors and funders

This PhD is supervised by Professor EJ Milner-Gulland (University of Oxford), Marcus Rowcliffe (Institute of Zoology), Nathalie Pettorelli (Institute of Zoology), Paul De Ornellas (Zoological Society London).

Project is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC CASE).


Brittain, S., Ngo Bata, M., De Ornellas, P., Milner-Gulland, E., & Rowcliffe, M. (2018). Combining local knowledge and occupancy analysis for a rapid assessment of the forest elephant Loxodonta cyclotis in Cameroon’s timber production forests. Oryx, 1-11. doi:10.1017/S0030605317001569

Brief CV

  • 2015-present: PhD Student, University of Oxford
  • 2014- 2015: Project & Communications Officer, Agriculture for Impact. Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London
  • 2013: Independent Research, Imperial College London and Zoological Society London. “Rapid assessment of the status and distribution of the Forest Elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis) in South East Cameroon”
  • 2013- Present: Freelance Ecology Fieldwork Assistant (Various across the UK)
  • 2012-2013: Conservation Science MSc, Imperial College London. With Distinction and awarded the Gerald Durrell Prize.
  • 2012: Research Assistant, Frontier Cambodia. “Livelihoods and sustainable resource use in Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary”.
  • 2009- 2012: Project Executive, London Community Resource Network
  • 2006- 2009: Geography BSc, Queen Mary University of London. Awarded 2.1 (Hons)



  • 2015: WildCRU “Robust Wildlife Population Monitoring under Challenging Conditions”
  • 2015: Institute of Zoology (IoZ) student conference “Robust Wildlife Population Monitoring under Challenging Conditions”
  • 2014: Zoological Society London (ZSL) “Rapid assessment of the status and distribution of the Forest Elephant”


  • 2015: 27th International Congress for Conservation Biology, Montpellier France. “Noticing the Elephant in the Forest” Poster presentation.
  • 2014: Student Conference for Conservation Science, Cambridge England. “Noticing the Elephant in the Forest” Poster presentation.


  • 2015: NERC CASE Studentship 
  • 2013: Gerald Durrell Prize – Prize awarded for the quality of my thesis research during my Conservation Science MSc
  • 2012: Rectors Scholarship– Studentship awarded based on previous experience, achievements and dedication to conservation

Membership & affiliations

Member of the British Ecological Society
Member of the Royal Geographical Society
Zoological Society London Fellow