Hi there! I'm Megan Baldissara and I am a PhD student working on Identifying and Prioritizing Habitat for Pheasant Conservation and Management in Agriculturally Dominated Landscapes under the supervision of Dr. Yi Qi and Dr. Andy Little. My research will help understanding farmland species’, such as pheasants, habitat needs in agriculturally dominated landscapes so that they can be protected and conserved. Wildlife has little natural wild space to survive on, and with agriculture expanding, it is fundamental that they can thrive in human modified environments. It is essential to conserve biodiversity, as it gives ecosystem services important to human survival.
I grew up in Italy surrounded by wildlife, as I often spent my time outdoors exploring woods and fields. This environment influenced my desire to understand the natural world encouraging me to attend a scientific high school in my hometown and then to gain a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences. Driven by my desire to travel and further discover my British roots, as my mother is English, I decided to pursue my bachelor’s in the UK. As part of the degree, I had a placement year at the Game and Wildlife Trust (GWCT) in the south of England, researching farmland biodiversity. My main roles were to study spatial biodiversity of gamebirds in farmland with GIS (Geographic Information System) and to study the predation of vulnerable protected birds. During this year I conducted surveys of birds such as pheasants, partridges and woodcocks and I mapped their population distribution depending on the environment with ArcGIS. I also conducted invertebrate surveys to understand the habitat and food quality for farmland birds. My mapping work contributed to understand where habitat management was needed to enhance farmland bird biodiversity and where management efforts were effective, thus helping in advising game management and wildlife conservation practices to farmers, shoot managers and conservation organisations. I really enjoyed working there and I discovered my passion for wildlife conservation, inspiring me to continue my studies and obtaining a masters in Conservation and Biodiversity in the UK. After my masters I achieved a Ph.D. Research Assistantship in Wildlife Ecology at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. The research is very relevant to the work I carried out for GWCT, which made me fall in love with conservation in the first place. I am excited to work with UNL to research and conserve farmland species threatened by global change and to make a difference in conservation.
Where I grew up and my interest in the natural world began (near the Alps in Italy)
During my free time I play basketball, trek and cook.
Fun Fact about myself: As a stereotypical Italian I make good pizza whilst as a stereotypical British I have a sarcastic sense of humour.