Andrew Marshall
Lecturer

Profile

Career

PhD University of York
MRes University of York
BSc Cardiff

Research

Overview

My main research interests are ecology and conservation of tropical forests, with focus on primates, duikers, trees, carbon, climate change and restoration ecology in Tanzania. Most recently I have initiated the Udzungwa Forest Project which aims to integrate ecological research with practical conservation in one of the world’s most important areas for conservation of biodiversity, through collaboration with a North Yorkshire zoo (Flamingo Land) and the Worldwide Fund for Nature Tanzania Programme Office. I am also currently a member of two projects looking at tropical forest carbon stocks and the impacts of climate change on species distributions. I have previously been involved in a number of projects in the region, including Ph.D. research into the effects of human disturbance on monkeys and trees. I have also held short-term positions at the British Trust for Ornithology interpreting waterbird declines on UK wetlands, and placements at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park (Devon, UK) and at the University of California (Berkeley, USA).

Current projects

Valuing the Arc
This project funded by the Leverhulme Trust, is a five-year collaboration between a number of partners from European, Tanzanian and US Institutions. The study is focussing on the Eastern Arc mountains of Tanzania, an area of global importance for conservation and the source of water supply and power to at least half of Tanzania's urban population. However, despite growing global-level recognition that conservation often makes economic sense for society as a whole, decision-makers continue to behave as if ecosystems have little or no value. Therefore, the aim of this project is to determine the economic value of the Eastern Arc Mountains to the people of Tanzania, and to the international community. In achieving this, the project is carrying out detailed study of ecosystem services including carbon-related services, hydrological services, and biodiversity-related services.

I have been carrying out the first phase of fieldwork for the project, assessing carbon-related services. Global warming caused by release of greenhouse gases through human activity, is set to cause significant environmental damage at a high economic cost. Habitats that store high amounts of carbon (such as forests), therefore have high economic potential as carbon sinks, but before values can be attached to them, we need to know actual quantities. To determine this I have been using one hectare permanent sample plots (PSPs) in several areas of the Eastern Arc Mountains. By measuring the trees within each plot, established equations will be combined with empirical modelling to convert the dimensions into biomass and then carbon. Trees will then be remeasured after a period of three years to assess the rate of carbon sequestration. Empirical and theoretical data will then be combined to develop descriptive, spatially explicit models of the production and delivery of each focal service. Results will then be used to inform and support Payment for Environmental Service initiatives under development in Tanzania.

Funding: The Leverhulme Trust (UK)

Sokoine University Forestry graduate Deo Shirima measuring a tree for calculation of carbon storage

The Borderlands Project: Climate Change and Species Distributions
The second of my two postdoctoral projects is focussed on the borderlands of Tanzania and Kenya. The area is characterised by a wide range of environments with one of the largest concentrations of wildlife on earth. Now the effects of global climate change pose a serious threat to this extraordinary region – not only to its wildlife but to the lives of the Maasai, who have evolved with a variable climate and lived alongside the wildlife for millennia. This area is also the economic driver of the tourist industry for Kenya and Tanzania: each year over one and a half million visitors are drawn to the region's 14 world-famous parks, earning the two African nations over $0.5 billion in vital revenue.

The project will chart the consequences of climate change on people, animals and protected areas. The project unites the University of York’s Environment Department with international scientists from the African Conservation Centre (Kenya) and the University of San Diego and Missouri Botanical Gardens (USA), as well as drawing heavily on traditional knowledge in the area. Results will be used to develop management strategies for this vitally important area that are sensitive to climate change, population use of the area and the dynamic nature of the ecosystems. Together with our colleagues, we are mapping the distribution of plants, mammals and birds in the borderlands – and to model their vulnerability to climate change. The research will build on the work underway at the University of York within the Historical Ecological of East African Landscapes and York Institute for Tropical Ecosystem Dynamics headed by Dr Paul Lane (Archaeology) and Dr Rob Marchant (Environment) respectively.

Funding: Liz Clairborne Art Ortenberg Foundation (USA)

Elephants in Amboseli National Park among the many animals likely to be affected by climate change

Udzungwa Forest Project
UFP was established through my position at Flamingo Land Theme Park and Zoo (link below) to research and monitor forest animals and plants in the Udzungwa Mountains, with particular focus on the effects of forest degradation. It was initiated in September 2007, with the following aims:

  • To improve conservation of threatened habitats
  • To improve knowledge of the ecology and conservation priorities for Tanzania’s threatened species
  • To improve environmental education
  • To train Tanzanian villagers and graduates in ecological monitoring
  • To disseminate research and education outputs to a wide audience
  • To improve resources and income in rural areas
  • To promote and advertise the exceptional biodioversity and beauty of the Udzungwa Mountains

The Udzungwa Mountains are part of the Eastern Arc mountain chain (see Valuing the Arc project above). Of all the Eastern Arc forests, the Udzungwa Mountains are arguably the most important for conservation. They supply water to hydropower plants that produce one third of Tanzania’s electricity and have the highest number of endemic and threatened species of all the Eastern Arc forests (Burgess et al 2006). They also contain the Eastern Arc’s only National Park, which covers just below one fifth of the 10,000 km2 land area. Threatened species present include Africa’s rarest carnivore, Jackson’s mongoose, the Udzungwa forest partridge and Abbott’s duiker. Furthermore the Udzungwas are arguably Africa’s most important single site for primate conservation, with up to 12 species, including two Udzungwa endemics (the Udzungwa red colobus, Sanje mangabey), one Eastern Arc endemic (a bush-baby Galagoides orinus) and one that was found new to science within the last two years (kipunji monkey Rungwecebus kipunji). But perhaps most importantly, Udzungwa has the largest area of forest in the Eastern Arc (1,353 to 1,500 km2; Marshall 2007).

The major components of the project are 1) integrative conservation planning with villages and managers of the threatened Magombera forest, and 2) long-term research to determine the ecology and habitat requirements of some key animal and plant species in Magombera forest, Kilombero Nature Reserve and Udzungwa Mountains National Park. The research component includes monitoring of threatened primates, duikers and trees and assessment/restoration of forest habitats affected by human and elephant damage. The research is carried out mostly by Tanzanian villagers and graduates, along with international researchers and volunteers.

Funding: Flamingo Land Ltd. (UK)

Project Co-ordinator Samwelli Mtoka discussing forest conservation with Tanzanian villagers

Andy with Acacia

Contact details

Dr Andrew Marshall
Environment Department
University of York
Heslington
York
YO10 5DD

Tel: 01904 323146