David Tooby

David’s research aims to identify the position of international conservation organisations on key controversial issues

Photo credit: David Tooby

e-mail: s1884729@ed.ac.uk

PhD project

The shaping of the global conservation agenda.


Before starting at Edinburgh I studied Biology and Ecology (BSc) and Wildlife Management (MSc) at Newcastle University. Throughout my undergraduate degree my interest began to shift from field ecology to more wide-scale issues such as international conservation and policy implementation. The MSc course, part run by the National Wildlife Management Centre (NWMC), emphasised the importance of understanding human actions and impacts when dealing with ecological and land-management issues. This focus on the human-driven elements of wildlife issues, combined with my interest in conservation, have naturally led me towards social research in this field.

In my free time I’m an avid science fiction reader and write my own novels. I also play guitar and mandolin as well as participating in casual rock climbing.


This project will work alongside the IUCN to identify the key controversial issues for conservation decision-makers and explore the positions of IUCN Members with regards to these topics. Existing voting records from the WCC (World Conservation Congress) will be investigated using item response theory to indicate the contentious issues, the spectra of views within the Membership, and the position of each Member with regards to these issues. Results from this statistical analysis will then be compared with official stated positions of each Member in other international forums, accompanied by interviews with prominent figures within specific organisations. The outcomes of this study should give insight into the views of WCC decision makers, what the main points of conflict are, and ultimately to aid the IUCN in their efforts to create a constructive forum for debate on conservation issues.