New paper – Motivations and sensitivities surrounding the illegal trade of sea turtles in Costa Rica

Illegal wildlife trade can threaten biodiversity and economic development. Criminal enterprises may add wildlife products to their list of illicit goods by using established trade routes, networks, and individuals. On the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, killing of sea turtles and removal of their eggs is commonplace. However, beyond conservation NGOs reporting evidence of illegal take, little is known about this activity. Through semi-structured interviews with law enforcement, community members, NGOs, and illegal harvesters, alongside anecdotal information and observations, we aimed to understand the motivations for illegal take. To cross-reference these findings, we assessed sensitivities surrounding illegal harvesting by asking the general public sensitive questions using the randomized response technique; a method used to elicit sensitive information whilst insuring the anonymity of respondents. We included a questionnaire to establish if differences in demographics affected the probability respondents would admit to a turtle-related crime. Our findings identified a rare example of illegal extraction of a wildlife product driven by motivations that were not exclusively livelihood based. We found the majority of illegal take was undertaken by relatively few individuals, dependent on narcotics. The most cited reason for illegal take was that turtle eggs could be used to procure drugs. Law enforcement was under resourced, and informants reported that prosecutions were rare. Local people preferred to purchase rather than harvest eggs suggesting the trade is supply-driven. Those interviewed did not generally regard the subject of illegal harvest as sensitive. Low education levels, high unemployment rates, and marginalization of certain groups may increase susceptibility to narcotics. Although substance misuse and addiction appear to drive illegal trade, associated poverty and marginalization may explain why drug dependency is so prevalent in Caribbean Costa Rica. Increased work opportunities and drug rehabilitation programs may assist in reducing illegal take of turtle eggs on nesting beaches.


SE@K Thursday research lunch & cake – 2023/2024

For the second term of the 23/24 academic year, we have an exciting plan for SE@K and guest talks:

  • 25th Jan     Session : Alex Talk ; Cake : Milly
  • 1st Feb    Session : Meta-Regression ; Cake : Tommy
  • 8th Feb    Session : Daniel Talk ; Cake : Ioannis
  • 15th Feb    Session : Talk by Jon Barry from CEFAS on MCMC for machine learning environmental monitoring; Cake : Diana
  • 22nd Feb    Session : Ioannis Talk ; Cake : Eleni
  • 29th Feb    Session : TBA ; Cake : Lucy
  • 7th Mar    Session : Lena Talk ; Cake : Lena
  • 14th Mar    Session : Tommy Talk ; Cake : Milly
  • 21st Mar    Session : Milly Talk ; Cake : Ioannis
  • 28th Mar    Session : Lucy Talk ; Cake : Tommy
  • 4th Apr    Session : Lunch ; Cake : Diana


The talks in the first term were:

  • 28th of Sep     Session : Biosciences lecture; Cake : Eleni
  • 5th of Oct        Session : SE@K intro – all; Cake : Diana
  • 12th of Oct      Session : Building a website – all; Cake : Daniel
  • 19th of Oct      Session : Data presentation on Bats – Denise; Cake : Bruno
  • 26th of Oct     Session : Data presentation on Moths – Denise; Cake : Ioannis
  • 2nd of Nov     Session : Building a website – all; Cake : Milly
  • 9th of Nov      Session : RShiny apps  – Tommy; Cake : Lena
  • 16th of Nov    Session : Ioannis’s paper; Cake : Lucy
  • 23rd of Nov   Session : GLMMs for moths; Cake : Eleni
  • 30th of Nov   Session : Monty & Jake – Satellite data; Cake : Denise
  • 7th of Dec      Session : Daniel I. and team – Wildmeat & agent-based modelling; Cake : Diana
  • 14th of Dec    Session : Meta-regression; Cake : Daniel




SE@K Thursday lunches – Summer 2023

For the last term of the 22/23 academic year, we have an exciting plan for SE@K and guest talks

  • 11th of May      Session : eDNA – Alex/Eleni; Cake : Eleni
  • 18th of May     Session : Occupancy data – Ardian Ardiantiono; Cake : James
  • 25th of May     Session : BeeWalk modelling – Fabian; Cake : Fabian
  • 1st of June       Session : Elephant killings – Kennedy Leneuiyia; Cake : Milly
  • 8th of June      Session : Extinction Models – Dave Roberts; Cake : Bruno
  • 15th of June     Session : Binary time series – Takis (TBC); Cake : Daniel
  • 22nd of June    Session : PhD student NCSE presentations; Cake : Diana
grants, News

Bruno and Eleni visited Stockholm

The visit was part of their Swedish research council funded project on modelling overcoverage in population registers, in collaboration with Dr Eleonora Mussino.

The first paper from this project is already under review, using multiple systems estimation to estimate the number of immigrants who are present but have not been observed in any register each year.

They are currently developing capture-recapture-recovery models with temporary emigration as an alternative approach for estimating the probability that an individual is there given that they weren’t observed.

News, Papers

New Biometrics paper

A new modelling framework for fast Bayesian inference in large occupancy data sets by Alex, Emily, Eleni and Byron just published in Biometrics.

The model accounts for spatio-temporal autocorrelation and gives robust inference on species presence, as evidence by the simulation results in the paper and the two case studies on one common and widespread and one rare species, using records from the Butterflies for the New Millennium database, producing occupancy indices spanning 45 years.




Spring term 2023 SE@K Thursday lunches

Spring term starts with the second half of Python training by Lena :-). Plan for the term in terms of sessions (and cake) below!

  1.  19th of January     Session : Python training II – Lena; Cake : Lena & Daniel
  2.  26th of January     Session : Daniel’s grant; Cake : Diana
  3.  2nd of February    Session : HMM paper – Diana; Cake : Eleni
  4.  9th of February     Session : HMM paper – Daniel; Cake : Oscar
  5.  16th of February   Session : HMM paper – Takis (guest lecture); Cake : Alex
  6.  23rd of February  Session : Variable selection/Hypothesis testing – Alex; Cake : James
  7.  2nd of March        Session : HMM – Fred (guest lecture); Cake : Fabian
  8.  9th of March         Session : Parameter redundancy – Daniel’s take; Cake : Tommy
  9. 16th of March         Session Swedish register data – Bruno&Eleni ; Cake : Milly
  10. 23th of March         Session : Swedish register data – Bruno&Eleni; Cake : Daniel
  11.  30th of March        Session : Spatio-temporal models – Oscar; Cake : Diana
  12.  6th of April             Session : eDNA data – Alex; Cake :  Eleni