David O Connor 

Movement Ecology Group

David O'Connor

PhD Student


Fields of interest

My PhD research on the spatial and movement ecology of giraffe, with a special focus on the reticulated giraffe (Giraffa reticulata). Using aerial and tracking data to understand the factors driving giraffe habitat occupancy, preferences, seasonal movements, and co-existence dynamics with humans and livestock. In addition to forwarding giraffe science, we hope this research will inform giraffe conservation and land protection decisions and community-led conservation efforts.

I am based in San Diego, California, USA where I am employed as a researcher with the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, where in addition to co-leading the collaborative community based Twiga Walinzi reticulated giraffe conservation and multi-disciplinary socio-ecological research program in northern Kenya, I am also involved in leopard (Panthera pardus) and savannah elephant (Loxodonta africana) conservation and research. I work in SE Asia as part of a team with local partners on research to address the illegal wildlife trade in bears and bear parts, saiga horn and tiger parts, as well beginning to developing research to inform a potential Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus) rewilding effort in northern Laos. More recently, we have been supporting new research on former working elephants in Myanmar for possible re-introduction. Lastly I support saiga (Saiga tatarica) conservation and education efforts in Uzbekistan and southern Russia. I am a member of the IUCN Giraffe and Okapi Specialist Group, and the IUCN Bear Specialist Group.


Publication List

Davis, E., D. O'Connor, B. Crudge, A. Carignan, J. Glickman, C. Browne-Nunez, M. Hunt. 2016. Understanding public perceptions and motivations around bear part use: A study in northern Laos of attitudes of Chinese tourists and Lao PDR nationals. Biological Conservation 203: 282-289.

Crudge, B., D. O’Connor, M. Hunt, E. Davis, and C. Browne-Nuñez. 2016. Groundwork for effective conservation education: an example of in situ and ex situ collaboration in South East Asia. International Zoo Yearbook, 50: 1748-1090.

O'Connor, D.A., B. Butt, and J.B. Foufopoulos. 2016. Mapping the ecological footprint of large livestock overlapping with wildlife in Kenyan pastoralist landscapes. African Journal of Ecology, 54(1):114-117. [Published online October 2015] 

O’Connor, D., B. Crudge, E. Davis, M. Hunt, J. Harris, C. Browne-Nuñez, K Pesei, and E. Blint. 2015. Understanding attitudes and usage of wild bear parts in Laos and Cambodia: A preliminary study using citizen scientists. Cambodian Journal of Natural History, 1: 67-68.

O'Connor, D.A., B. Butt, and J.B. Foufopoulos. 2015. Foraging ecologies of giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata) and camels (Camelus dromedarius) in northern Kenya: effects of habitat structure and possibilities for competition? African Journal of Ecology, 53(2):183-193. [Published online June 2015].

Maguire, J.A., D.A. O’Connor, and G.M. Burnell. 1999. An Investigation into Behavioural Indicators of Stress in Juvenile Scallops. Aquaculture International, 7(3):169-177.

Contact details and additional Information

Phone: +1.202.352.0737
Email: doconnor@sandiegozoo.org
Web: http://www.twigaresearch.com