Nick Harvey

Conservation Scholar

BA (Hons) Natural Sciences (Zoology) – University of Cambridge, UK, 2015
MSc Biodiversity, Conservation and Management – University of Oxford, UK, 2016
PhD Conservation - University of Manchester, UK, ongoing

Nick Harvey is working with Chester Zoo to investigate the conservation physiology of the eastern black rhino as part of a PhD at the University of Manchester. He is a student on the NERC-funded Earth, Atmosphere and Oceans doctoral training programme. 

Nick is using methods developed at Chester Zoo and applying them to wild populations in Kenya. For her PhD research at the zoo, Dr Katie Edwards studied the hormones found in the dung of our herd of rhinos at the zoo. This gave an insight into why some rhinos breed well and others don’t, and it led to a ‘baby boom’ at Chester Zoo. The main aim of Nick’s project is to take this ground-breaking research and use it to improve the breeding success of wild populations of this subspecies of black rhino. He is also interested in more general questions about the aims of conservation and whether our current efforts can achieve these aims.


“I’m a zoologist and conservation scientist and try to use a mixed methods approach to answer conservation research questions. During my undergraduate degree, I was lucky enough to be able to study the natural world from the perspective of different scientific fields. It affirmed that the scientific method is vital to guiding conservation and I am keen to use my scientific knowledge to aid in the conservation of such an incredible and endangered species as the black rhino. Conservation physiology is so useful because it bridges the gap between processes that happen at the level of the cell or organism and population declines or ecosystem degradation. Reproduction can be impacted as a result of inappropriate habitat or human activity. Correlating certain hormone levels with environmental factors can allow us to make suggestions about how management practices can be optimised.

“As important as science is, conservation is after all a social exercise and has to engage people. During my masters I was introduced to social science research and how important it is to understanding how conservation works. I am using social science methods such as surveys to investigate what people think conservation should be striving towards. Do we want to prevent extinction by any means or should we be seeking to preserve wild areas with their full complement of species?”

Project partners

The University of Manchester logo

NERC logo

Kenya Wildlife Service logo


Angela Harris (School of Environment, Education and Development, The University of Manchester)

Dr Susanne Shultz (School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Manchester)

Dr Sue Walker (Chester Zoo)

Dr Cathy Walton (School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Manchester)

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