Oxford Long-Term Ecology Lab

Long-Term Ecology, Biodiversity Conservation, and Environmental Stewardship Technologies

I am most interested in research applicable to conservation management that incorporates field work and natural history documentation in undersampled and threatened ecosystems. This includes global change biogeography (e.g. climate change, habitat loss and fragmentation), landscape ecology, and the sustainable management of ecosystems. My current doctoral research focuses on the role of mammalian community composition and intactness in the ecological functioning of the Ethiopian Highlands. I work most closely with the gramnivorous Gelada monkey, and work on many classic herbivore ecology questions rarely explored in primates. In pursuing these interests, I use a diverse set of tools ranging from biogeochemistry, kite-based aerial surveying, and animal movement monitoring (and of course my trusty binoculars and an all-weather notebook).

Before coming to Oxford, I completed an M.Sc. in Biological Anthropology at the University of Toronto (2013). My project focused on ecological impacts at the microhabitat scale of forest fragmentation and edge effects on two sympatric mouse lemur species. In 2010, I finished a B.Sc. in Environmental Science (Conservation Biology) at the University of Ottawa. That degree culminated in a thesis project where I derived a mobility index of Canadian butterfly species subsequently useful in incorporating dispersal into predicting species’ abilities to respond to climate change.


Burke, R.J., and S.M. Lehman. (2015). Edge effects on abundance and body mass in two species of mouse lemurs in northwest Madagascar. Folia Primatologica (Special Issue on Primate Biogeography). 85: 277-291. DOI: 10.1159/000360082.

Nguyen N., Fashing, P.J., Boyd, D.A., Barry, T.S., Burke, R.J., Goodale, C.B., Jones, S.C.Z., Kerby, J.T., Kellogg, B.S., Lee, L.M., Miller, C.M., Nurmi, N.O., Ramsay, M.S., Reynolds, J.D., Stewart, K.M., Turner, T.J., Venkataraman, V.V., Knauf, Y., Roos, C., Knauf, S (2015). Fitness impacts of tapeworm parasitism on wild gelada monkeys at Guassa, Ethiopia. American Journal of Primatology. DOI: 10.1002/ajp.22379

Valenta, K., Burke, R.J., Styler, S.A., Jackson, D., Melin, A.D., and Lehman, S.M. (2013). Colour and odour drive fruit selection and seed dispersal by mouse lemurs. Scientific Reports. 7: 31-36.

Burke, R.J., Fitzsimmons, J. M. and J.T. Kerr. (2011).  A mobility index for Canadian butterfly species based on naturalists’ knowledge. Biodiversity and Conservation. 20, 2273-2295. DOI: 10.1007/s10531-011-0088-y.

Fashing, P.J., Nguyen, N.T., Barry, T.S., Burke, R.J., Goodale, C.B., Jones, S.Z., Kerby, J.T., Lee, L.M., Nurmi, N.O. and V. Venkataraman. (2010).  Death among geladas (Theropithecus gelada): A broader perspective on mummified infants and primate thanatology. American Journal of Primatology71, 1-5. DOI: 10.1002/ajp.20902


Burke, R.J., and Willis, K.J. (2015). Top-down effects of an herbivorous primate: Ecosystem processes mediated by Geladas and domestic herbivores in the Ethiopian Highlands. ESA Annual Meeting, Baltimore, Maryland.

Valenta, K, Burke, R.J., Styler, S.A., Jackson, D.A., and Lehman, S.M. (2013) Effects of fruit odor on fruit consumption and seed dispersal by Microcebus murinus and M. ravelobensis in a tropical dry forest in northwestern Madagascar. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 147 (S54): 275. American Association of Physical Anthropologist’s Annual Meeting, Knoxville, TN.

Burke, R.J. and Lehman, S.M (2013) Edge effects and competitive exclusion: A case of two sympatric species of mouse lemurs in northwestern Madagascar.Frontiers of Biogeography Vol. 4, suppl. 1. International Biogeography Society, 230 pp.International Biogeography Society 6th Biennial Meeting, Miami, USA.

Burke, R.J., Moua, C., Nguyen, N. and P. J. Fashing (2012) Ranging behaviour of gelada monkeys (Theropithecus gelada) at Guassa, Ethiopia: Ecological and anthropogenic influences. Canadian Association for Physical Anthropology. Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

Burke, R.J., Fitzsimmons, J. M. and J.T. Kerr. (2009) A mobility index of Canadian butterfly species: tapping in to naturalists’ experience. Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of Ontario, Dorset, Ontario, Canada.

Burke, R.J. and Javidpour J. (2009) Dietary overlap between native scyphomedusae Aurelia aurita and invasive ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi in the Kiel Bight, Western Baltic Sea. International Conference on Aquatic Invasive Species, Montréal, Quebec, Canada.

Selected Publications