Ricardo Rocha

Research Interests

The scale and impact of agriculture continues to intensify, with associated losses of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Given a human population projected to reach the 9 billion mark by 2050, a key question is the degree to which ecological interactions are being altered in rapidly expanding agricultural landscapes. Using bats as a model taxon and capitalizing on the forest-agriculture environmental gradient in and around Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar (where I have been working for over 10 years – e.g., Kemp et al. 2019, Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2018.09.027), a potential DPhil project could use DNA metabarcoding and ecological networks to investigate how interspecific interactions and predator-prey associations – assessed, in natural (old-growth forest) and human-modified agricultural habitats – are affected by within-farmland features such as changes in vegetation structure (e.g., due to variations in tree cover and crops planted) and landscape-scale disturbances (e.g., changes in composition of agricultural lands). Although the primary goal of this DPhil project would be to help disentangle the mechanisms of species assembly in human-modified landscapes, the in-depth investigation of the dietary spectrum of insectivorous bats in agroecosystems would provide important information regarding the consumption patterns of pest arthropods by bats. This research can thus aid in tailoring practices that promote pest-control services by bats and, as such, simultaneously contribute to more sustainable agriculture and to the conservation of one of the planet’s most threatened biodiversity hotspots: Madagascar.


Qualifications and Experience

I have lectured three different subjects to 1st and 2nd year Biology BSc students at the Univ. of Madeira.

I have also lectured and contributed to the development of the study program of a week-long field course (Lab Natura) in which students learned in loco about marine and terrestrial biodiversity. 

I have given guest lectures about tropical conservation ecology and bird ecology and conservation at the Univ. of Lisbon, reserve planning at the Univ. of Helsinki and about human-wildlife conflicts at Freie Univ. Berlin.

I have been involved in the delivery of a one-month field course on Tropical Ecology in Madagascar and as an instructor in field courses on tropical bat ecology and conservation in Malaysian Borneo (2018) and Thailand (2019).

To date, I have supervised 6 completed MSc theses, and I am currently supervising one PhD and three MSc theses.

Personal Research Keywords

Conservation Science, Landscape Ecology, Tropical Ecology, Island Ecology, Restoration Ecology, Bat Ecology