Katie Fincken
Kathleen Fincken
Masters by Research student
Conservation ecology lab

Project title: Conservation ecology of two threatened stag beetles Colophon haughtoni and Colophon kawaii

MRes Natural Sciences (current): Supervised by Dr Matt Hayward, my project focuses on the ecology of two threatened stag beetles Colophon haughtoni and Colophon kawaii. Both species are endemic to a mountain peak in South Africa, sold on the black market and have never been studied in situ.

Research Objectives:

  • Provide the first population size and structure estimate for Colophon haughtoni and Colophon kawaii.
  • Describe movement activity and spatial distribution of Colophon haughtoni and Colophon kawaii and identify any abiotic or biotic factors that may influence this.

 To achieve population estimates I used mark-release-re capture method and modeled the data using the program MARK. Beetle movement activity was quantified using radio telemetry (see picture below), which has only recently been applied to insect species. GPS points were plotted onto a map using ArcGIS to map their spatial distribution.


Through my research I aim to update Colophon’s conservation status by providing information required by the IUCN criteria, such as population size and area of occupancy. I also wish to identify factors that threaten them and methods that may be used to help conserve these enigmatic creatures, this work is very important for Colophon conservation. In a wider context this research has highlighted a unique opportunity to study the effects of climate change on the evolutionary biology of two genetically isolated, montane, South African endemic, invertebrate species.

I am currently writing up my results and hope to have a paper published by the end of the year.

If you are interested in this sort of work or life in the field please follow me on here:  http://padlet.com/k_fincken/Colophon

2015: Oxford University, Insect Taxonomy and field sampling skills Carabidae: ground beetles), 5 day course.
Skills: Taxonomic identification, genital dissections, practical experience of sampling techniques (malaise traps, pitfall traps, sweep netting ect.).

2011-2014:  Bangor University BSc Zoology First class Honours

Skills: Statistical analysis; concise report writing; data entry and management.

See more here.

My BSc Zoology dissertation focused on changes in spring moth abundance and emergence timings due to climate change, over a twenty-year period in North Wales. In September 2014 I started my postgraduate studies at Bangor University by designing and leading a lengthy field experiment to South Africa as part of my MRes degree. Myself and two other students (Thea Eldred and Declan Murphy) aim to study various biological and ecological aspects of two threatened stag beetles Colophon

Academic support

  • Professor Clarke Scholtz, Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa.

Financial support

  • Coalbourne Charitable Trust
  • Bangor University
  • Craghoppers (sponsored clothing)