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Derek Lee

Academic Affiliate of Biology
D. Lee

I am a quantitative wildlife biologist specializing in demography, conservation biology, and population ecology. Current research investigates Masai Giraffe and other large mammal populations within a coupled human-natural landscape in Tanzania. This work examines how births, deaths, and movements of ungulates are impacted by increasingly fragmented wildlife habitat, and what conservation actions are most effective. I spent 10 years researching the impacts of climate and ocean conditions on survival, reproduction, and population growth rates of marine predators such as pinnipeds and seabirds at the South Farallon Islands, California. This work was included in a conservation and management plan for seabirds in the California Current Ecosystem. I also studied migration of Black Brant in Humboldt Bay and wildebeest in Tanzania, and I am one of the leading researchers on fire ecology of Spotted Owls. 



Ph.D., Biological Sciences, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Dartmouth College

M.S., Natural Resources Management, Wildlife, Humboldt State University

B.A., Cultural Anthropology, University of California Santa Barbara



Fulbright Scholar


Research Interests

My current work is using individual-based data from the thousands of giraffes we are monitoring in Tanzania to investigate how vegetation, predators, social relationships, genetics, disease, and humans affect births, deaths, and movements of this megaherbivore. Ours is the largest and longest-running giraffe study and our results are informing basic ecology, behavior, evolution, and conservation science. We use big data tools such as artificial intelligence (AI) to process and analyze our large and ever-growing database of giraffe photographic encounters. My growing team of international collaborators is examining giraffe diet, habitat selection, social networks, parasites, population genetics, mating strategies, and more.