I have worked in conservation research for over 20 years, with a focus on African ecology. I worked for six years in Zambia researching Biodiversity in Kafue National Park and as Project Manager at Munda Wanga Wildlife Park and as a Wild Dog Ecologist in South Luangwa NP. Since then I have built a broad range of professional experience with posts in research, education and awareness, and worked with a range of taxa (including birds, butterflies, beetles, reptiles, amphibians, large and small mammals) but specialise in bats.
I am Founder/Director of Conservation Research Africa – a long-term applied research programme based in Malawi, registered with the charity commission in England and Wales. Through this programme I lead multidisciplinary research assessing the impacts of global environmental change (GEC) on wildlife and society through two main projects African Bat Conservation and Carnivore Research Malawi.
Area of expertise
My research is focused on understanding the dynamic interrelations between ecosystems, society and poverty. I use a novel interdisciplinary approach to Global Environmental Change (GEC) research, combining social-ecological-geographical methods to predict and understand the impacts of urbanisation and agricultural expansion on biodiversity. Using bats as models I am assessing the impact of agricultural land use change (across gradients of intensity) on biodiversity in Malawi. I have recently completed a Leverhulme Trust funded research project assessing ecosystem service provision of bats in agro-forestry plantations and smallholder farms in Malawi as Co-I with Professor Gareth Jones, University of Bristol. Within the UK I work in partnership with the Bat Conservation Trust and Natural England to assess the impacts of agricultural expansion and lighting on bats.
I direct a long-term research programme in Malawi focused on urban ecology and GEC. Based at our Conservation Research Centre in Lilongwe City, my team conduct applied research to assess the socio-cultural-economic drivers of human-wildlife-conflict (HWC), spatial and behavioural ecology of urban bats and carnivores, and impacts of urbanisation on biodiversity and in particular bat ecology and behaviour. I use bats and spotted hyaenas (Crocuta crocuta) as models to assess the impacts of urbanisation on biodiversity and the risks to human health from wildlife trade, consumption, and cultural use as a function of increasing urbanisation.
I have generated high impact papers (1017 citations, H-Index 12) in journals including: Current Biology (Stone et al. 2009, >340 citations, IF 8.9), Global Change Biology (Stone et al. 2012, IF 8.4, 136 citations), and Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B (Stone et al. 2015, IF 7, 72 citations). I have developed an international profile for my research, having presented as keynote and invited speaker at numerous International Conservation Conferences.
I have led important work on human-wildlife conflict including studies on managing bats in historic buildings (Zeale et al. 2016) which influenced government policy on licensing protocols for endangered species. I have also made important contributions to the limited role of mitigation in conservation (Stone et al. 2013), and have been invited to write reviews of the effects of lighting on bats (Stone et al. 2015). My work in Malawi has led to the first ever listing of bats as protected species under the Wildlife Act 2018 and my urban biodiversity research has informed the first Lilongwe City Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan and biodiversity enforcement plan for Lilongwe City Council.
IUCN Bat Specialist Group Member
IUCN Hyaena Specialist Group Member
Vice Chair – University Animal Welfare and Ethics Committee UWE
2011 – Faculty of Science Commendation of Excellence for my PhD thesis (University of Bristol)
2010 – Vincent Weir Scientific National Award for my contribution to the conservation biology of UK bats through my PhD research
2009 – Acorn Ecology Prize – for best student paper at the Mammal Society Easter Conference
2005 – Environmental and Behavioural Biology Prize – best performance for MSc research