Dr Aoibheann Gaughran
I am a postdoctoral research and teaching fellow with a specific interest in mammal behaviour, ecology and conservation. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Zoology from Trinity College Dublin (2013). In 2018, I was awarded my PhD from Trinity College Dublin, where my research focussed on the ranging behaviour of badgers before, during and after a major road improvement scheme along a section of the N11/M11 in County Wicklow. Badgers are of particular interest because they act as a wildlife reservoir of tuberculosis (TB), a disease that can be transmitted to cattle, and are therefore subject to control, but they are also one of our most iconic native species, and are projected under the Bern Convention (1979) and the Wildlife Acts (1976-2018).
The N11 Project was a collaboration between the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Using GPS tracking collars, we followed the movements of more than 80 badgers from 2010-2017. In addition to their response to the roadworks (Gaughran, 2018), the team has published many other important findings in relation to badger ranging behaviour in Ireland (MacWhite et al. 2013; Mullen et al. 2013, 2015; Gaughran et al. 2018; Gaughran et al. 2019; Kelly et al. 2020). Our research has led to a greatly improved understanding of badger ecology in Ireland and the findings will be used to inform more efficient and effective TB management strategies, including badger vaccine delivery and farm biosecurity.
To find out more about this research and about badgers themselves, you can watch this video, listen to this radio interview (@19:19 mins in), watch us in the field on ‘Living The Wildlife’ by Colin Stafford-Johnson or read the EvoEco blog.
I am currently working with Prof Jane Stout as Project Manager and Mammal Ecologist on the Áras an Uachtaráin Biodiversity Audit. This is a year-long study which was commissioned by President Michael D. Higgins through the Office of Public Works, which manages the Phoenix Park and the Áras. President Higgins has been interested in the protection of biodiversity for many years, and it was this issue that brought him to the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. Speaking at the first National Biodiversity Conference in early 2019 he said that we are facing “profound challenges” in terms of threats to our natural environment and that reversing biodiversity loss will require all of us to be leaders within our own spheres of influence. A diverse team specialists from TCD’s School of Natural Sciences will quantify both habitat and species diversity on the 130-acre site – an area that contains both formal gardens, certified organic kitchen gardens, and areas that are already managed for biodiversity. The project will culminate in recommendations for positive measures for biodiversity in the future management of the house and grounds of Áras an Uachtaráin.
I am also a lecturer on the Senior Sophister modules in Statistics and Plant-Animal Interactions.
Kelly, DJ, A Gaughran, T MacWhite, E Mullen, P Maher, DJ Kelly, M Good, NM Marples (2020) Extra Territorial Excursions by European badgers are not limited by age, sex or season. Scientific Reports, Accepted for Publication, DOI TBC
Gaughran A, T MacWhite, E Mullen, P Maher, DJ Kelly, M Good, NM Marples (2019) Dispersal patterns in a medium‐density Irish badger population: Implications for understanding the dynamics of tuberculosis transmission, Ecology and Evolution 9 (23), 13142-13152
Gaughran A (2018) The impact of roadworks on the ranging behaviour of European badgers (Meles meles), PhD thesis, Trinity College Dublin, http://hdl.handle.net/2262/84998
Gaughran A, Kelly DJ, MacWhite T, Mullen E, Maher P, Good M, et al. (2018) Super-ranging. A new ranging strategy in European badgers. PLoS ONE 13(2): e0191818. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0191818
Mullen, E.M., MacWhite, T., Maher, P.K., Kelly, D.J., Marples, N.M. & Good, M. (2015) The avoidance of farmyards by European badgers Meles meles in a medium density population. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 171, 170–176.
Mullen, E.M., MacWhite, T., Maher, P.K., Kelly, D.J., Marples, N.M. & Good, M. (2013) Foraging Eurasian badgers Meles meles and the presence of cattle in pastures. Do badgers avoid cattle? Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 144, 130–137.
MacWhite, T., Maher, P., Mullen, E., Marples, N. & Good, M. (2013) Satellite tracking study of badgers (Meles meles) to establish normal ranging behaviour prior to a road realignment. The Irish Naturalists Journal, 32, 99–105.
Project Supervisor: Prof. Jane Stout