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Thomas Pryke BSc (Hons), MSc

Thomas Pryke BSc (Hons), MSc

PhD Candidate

Tom's research addresses the potential for conflict between environmental change and the conservation of biodiversity within protected areas (PA) in the UK, and how this is interpreted by management and legislation.



  • 2012 – present; PhD Candidate, Dept. of Geography, University of Cambridge
  • 2012; MSc (Distinction) in Conservation, University College London
  • 2003; BSc (Hons) in Biology, University of Sheffield


  • 2011-2012; MSc, University College London
  • 2007-2011; Senior Science Technician, Haberdashers' Aske's Hatcham College
  • 2005-2007; Biological Technician, Haberdashers' Aske's Hatcham College
  • 2000-2003; BSc, University of Sheffield

Awards & scholarships

  • Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) / Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Joint Scholarship Award
  • University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute (UCCRI) Institutional Visit Award
  • George Hughes Travel Scholarship (Magdalene College)


My research interests are centred on issues relating to biodiversity conservation in the UK, and principally those which concern the delivery of conservation objectives via the network of statutorily-designated Protected Areas (PA) currently employed throughout the country. I am particularly interested in how the effects of environmental dynamism and continued anthropogenic climate change might alter perceptions of how effective the current management strategy status quo is, and this leads to a wider interest in new approaches to conservation such as "landscape-scale" and "re-wilding" initiatives.

Continuing from these themes, while coming from an ecological background I am increasingly interested in the social and political aspects of conservation, and how they are inextricably linked to the interpretation and delivery of conservation objectives. My PhD research focuses on these issues and uses the coastal wetland habitat network in East Anglia as an ideal backdrop, due to the highly-dynamic nature and significant PA presence on this stretch of coast.

To fully understand the complexities of the challenges facing conservation in such landscapes, and to explore the fundamental issues concerning how conservation is understood and managed by decision-makers, elements and techniques from both the social and physical sciences are required. This interdisciplinarity underpins the framework of the project, and it is expected that by running these strands concurrently it will allow for a more in-depth and accurate understanding of the dominant discourses in UK conservation. Research is co-supervised by Prof. W. Adams and Dr. T. Spencer.


Selected recent publications:

  • Rose, D.C., Brotherton, P.N.M., Owens, S., and Pryke, T. (2016) 'Honest Advocacy for Nature: Presenting a Persuasive Narrative for Conservation'. Biodiversity and Conservation. doi:10.1007/s10531-016-1163-1
  • Pryke, T. (2014) "A stormy idea: responding to rapid change in coastal ecosystems". Ecos 35 (2), 55-1

External activities

Society memberships

  • Postgraduate Fellow, Royal Geographical Society
  • Member, British Association of Nature Conservationists
  • Member, University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute

Professional activites

  • Reviewer, Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (2015-)

Other activities

  • Ranger, Great Fen Project
  • Ecology Group Volunteer, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire & Northants. Wildlife Trust
  • Member, University of Cambridge, Political Ecology group
  • Representative on the Graduate Student Committee (Dept. of Geography)
  • Representative on the Graduate Teaching Committee (Dept. of Geography)
  • Rower for Magdalene College