Each year the British Ecological Society awards a prize for the best paper by an Early Career Researcher in each of its journals. Journal of Applied Ecology awards the Southwood Prize in memory of Prof. Sir Richard Southwood.

The winning and highly commended papers for all of the British Ecological Society journals Early Career Researcher awards feature in this Virtual Issue.

Dominik Behr photo

The 2017 Southwood Prize winner is Dominik M. Behr for the paper,
Combining human acceptance and habitat suitability in a unified socio‐ecological suitability model: a case study of the wolf in Switzerland, Dominik M. Behr, Arpat Ozgul, Gabriele Cozzi.

The paper is based around a case study of wolf reintroduction in Switzerland. The authors use spatial statistical modelling to create both social and ecological suitability maps for wolves in Switzerland, searching for locations that both satisfy the habitat requirements of the species and which contain human communities that are more likely to accept the presence of wolves in their landscape. The editors liked the rigorous, integrative approach used in this study, combining sociological and ecological data to better understand the observed pattern of wolf recolonisation in Switzerland, and to make recommendations for future management. The paper highlights significant obstacles to large predator recolonisation but also shows how interventions might be targeted to produce cost-effective reductions in human-wildlife conflict.

Dominik is studying a PhD in Ecology at University of Zurich in collaboration with the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust. His current research focuses on dispersal and its demographic consequences in the endangered African wild dog. Specifically, he aims to acquire movement data of dispersing individuals, which will be merged with existing data on resident groups in a demographic model to assess population viability. His background lies in engineering, having received a MSc from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. Having worked in the private sector for a few years, he decided to return to academia but this time with a different focus. He studied environmental sciences at University of Zurich where he obtained a second MSc. It was during the course of his masters that he conducted the above-mentioned study (Behr, Ozgul and Cozzi 2017), integrating human acceptance and ecological components in a unified framework to better assess suitable wolf habitats in Switzerland. Dominik’s general research interests cover population ecology, movement ecology, biodiversity conservation, and human-wildlife conflict.

Find out more about Dominik’s work and other Southwood Prize winners here.