DICE alumna wins RSPB Conservation Award for outstanding PhD
6th July 2018
DICE alumna Dr Amy Hinsley is the proud winner of an RSPB award in Conservation Science for an outstanding PhD thesis in the discipline. Her thesis, titled Characterising the structure and function of international wildlife trade in the age of online communication, was supervised by Dr Dave Roberts with Amy graduating from the University of Kent in 2016.
Amy's thesis uses the international illegal trade in orchids as a case study to explore issues relating to the structure and function of online wildlife trade networks. She investigated consumer behaviour, identifying specific groups who may be buying from the illegal market, with a particular focus on those buying online.
Exploring an international group of orchid growers, she identified the types of growers breaking the rules and why. As well as studying formal online trade, Amy also looked into the informal trade operating within orchid-themed groups on social media.
Her findings address key gaps in conservation knowledge relating to consumer behaviour, online trade networks and the efficacy of existing regulations. For policy makers and practitioners, it emphasises the importance of a coordinated and adaptive approach to tackling illegal online wildlife trade and strengthening the legal trade. It also highlights the current status of the orchid trade and emphasises the ongoing lack of conservation attention being given to the trade in plants.
The findings have the potential for application to the conservation of species threatened by wildlife trade and the methods used provide new possible approaches to studying the structure and function of online trade networks.
Her PhD has resulted in four articles published from her thesis chapters, but Amy has also produced a further five papers, an incredible achievement for a PhD student.