Dr Grant Hopcraft
- Lecturer (Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health & Comparative Medicine)
- Associate (School of Life Sciences)
- 2015-current: Senior Research Fellow - University of Glasgow
- 2012–2015: Lord Kelvin Adam Smith Fellow – University of Glasgow
- 2012: Post-doctoral research associate – University of St Andrews
- 2011-2012: Post-doctoral research – Frankfurt Zoological Society
- 2005-2010: PhD. Community and Conservation Ecology – University of Groningen
- 2003-2008: Serengeti GIS & Ecological Monitoring – Frankfurt Zoological Society
- 1999-2002: MSc. Zoology & Teaching assistant – University of British Columbia
- 1996-1999: Serengeti Lion Project – University of Minnesota
- 1990-1995: BSc. Biology (Cooperative Education Program) – University of Victoria
My research broadly investigates landscape-scale ecological processes that determine the distribution and abundance of animals. I focus on African savannahs as model ecosystems to investigate how underlying biogeographical gradients, such as rainfall and soil fertility, influence animal nutrition and predation rates, and how these gradients structure community assemblages.
I study ecosystems from a large-scale holistic perspective by combining field metrics (including intensive soil and grass sampling, GPS tracking wildebeest and zebra migrations, resident animal censuses, biodiversity inventories) with digital mapping and remote sensing (GIS/RS) to test biological theories.
I am particularly interested in:
- Migrations and movement of animals using GPS tracking, physiological indicators and state-space models
- Ecosystem dynamics including how disturbance events and interactions between species can shift ecosystems into different states
- The impacts of climate change on animal populations and human livelihoods especially in terms of disease transmission and competition for limited resources
- Animal censuses and biodiversity estimates
- Remote sensing and GIS
- Element analysis of grass and forage
Serengeti Biodiversity Program
The Serengeti Biodiversity Program aims to collect, maintain, analyse and build on 60 years of biotic and abiotic data that defines the dynamic nature of the Serengeti ecosystem including weather, vegetation, fires, wildlife, and people. We manage a core Information Resource Centre that allows us to monitor the impacts of long-term global trends (such as climate change) with particular emphasis on ecosystem services of the Serengeti. In particular, we use the long-term data generated by Program to train the next generation of national and international conservation biologists. The data are integrated into a routine monthly feed-back system between research and management that summarizes the status and health of the ecosystem and facilitates an adaptive management strategy.
This project aims to unravel how human activity and climate change impact key ecosystem services. The project is based in
the Serengeti-Mara between Tanzania and Kenya. The project investigate how impacts such population growth, land-use change and climate change affect human wellbeing and potentially exacerbate poverty.
Our role is to understand how the migration of wildebeest and zebra is impacted by infrastructure development and to explore ways in which we can improve the ecotourism benefits for local people. The overall aim is to derive novel sustainable solutions that will protect biodiversity, and improve the benefits that people derive from the unique ecosystems within the region.
Lab Members - Serengeti Biodiversity Program
The Serengeti Biodiversity Program provides the backbone where I test ecological theories and ideas about how ecosystems operate and what governs biotic and abiotic interactions.The programme was started by A.R.E Sinclairin 1964 and we continue to maintain a long-running ecological databases designed to monitor the causes and consequences of natural and anthropogenic changes in ecosystem dynamics. I am currently the PI for the Serengeti Biodiversity Programme and fortunate to work with some amazing people.
Callum Buchanan(PhD Candidate) – Chronological steroid patterns in wildebeest and zebra tail hair (Funding AfricanBioServices)
Emilian Kihwele(PhD Candidate - Univeristy of Groningen) – The interplay between ecohydrology, herbivores and fire for ecosystem function and services in Serengeti-Mara Ecosystem (Funding AfricanBioServices & Serengeti Biodiversity Programme)
Karimjee Scholars - MSc Students
Evaline Munisi (MSc candidate and Karimjee Scholar) - Understanding the expansion of the African daisy (Gutenbergia cordifolia)in the Serengeti Ecosystem (Funding Karimjee Jivanjee Trust & Serengeti Biodiversity Programme)
Co-coordinator for MSc program in Conservation and Management of African Ecosystems
Principles of Applied Conservation Ecology (MSc Conservation and Management of African Ecosystems)
Principles in Ecology (MSc Wildlife and Livestock Management)
Karimjee Jivanjee Conservation Scholarships – a fully funded MSc program for Tanzanian students hosted between the University of Glasgow and the Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology (application deadline is April each year – email for more information firstname.lastname@example.org)
MSc Conservation and Management of African Ecosystems – This is a double Masters programme implemented jointly with the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology in Arusha, Tanzania. This MSc program requires students to carry out an in-depth research project in Tanzania. Tanzanian students are encouraged to apply through the Karimjee Jivanjee Conservation Scholarship
MSc Quantitative Methods in Biodiversity, Conservation and Epidemiology - This Masters programme provides specific training in data collection, modelling and statistical analyses required for successful careers in ecology, conservation, and animal and human health. It’s a great way to get involved with our research.
Conservation, Impacts & Outreach
My research is a mixture of strong hypothesis testing research with applied biodiversity and conservation work. Some direct outputs from my research are:
- Serengeti Data website
- The Serengeti Tracker – a smartphone app we are developing that enables real time tracking of wildebeest & zebra migration [See also Africa Geographic article and Naturally Speaking blog post]
- Socio-economic study of the Serengeti roadSerengeti road
- Offical management map and visitor guide of the Serengeti (2008)
- Also available via UNESCO for educational purposes
- Ranger based monitoring system
- Glasgow Science Centre: Images of Science: wildebeest migration (with narration)
- Short film put together by collaborator Colin Torney, showing how we use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or 'drones') to study wildebeest in the Serengeti
Colin Torney's YouTube Video
Recent media coverage
- BBC World Service – Sounds of the Masai Mara (2018)
- Scientific consultant and contributor for 'The Great African Migration' (2016), a four-part documentary with Ben Fogle for Channel 5 (UK) that filmed our research on tracking the wildebeest migration
- 'Strange Behaviours' column in TakePart magazine (2015), 'A new threat in the Serengeti to the world’s greatest animal migration'
- Blog post in Naturally Speaking (2015), 'Serengeti at a crossroads'
- Blog post in Africa Geographic (2014), 'An app that eases tourist congestion during the wildebeest migration'
- Article in The Observer (2014), 'Fantastic journey: why animals are driven to migrate'
- Scientific American (2014), 'Epic animal migrations could change with global warming'
- Radio broadcast (2014) Grant Hopcraft radio piece discussing the Serengeti road (.mp3, 2.7 MB) [Background to piece]
- Natural History, 'Into the Blue Serengeti'
- Oceanography, 'Savannas of the Sea'
- New York Times, 'Road kill in the Serengeti?'
Ben Fogle and Channel Five covers our research program in "The Great African Migration".
- Serengeti GIS & Data Centre
- Tanzania GIS Users Group
- Frankfurt Zoological Society
- Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI)
- Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA)
Live Updates from the Serengeti Migration
Get daily updates from the GPS collared wildebeest and zebra migration from our public website:
Serengeti Tracker App:
Track the Serengeti wildebeest and zebra migration in real time
Grants and Awards listed are those received whilst working with the University of Glasgow.
- Supporting Training and Research for the Serengeti
Zoo Zurich AG
2020 - 2023
- Understanding the cause of the decline of a near threatened Puku antelope: using DNA metabarcoding to assess the impact of competitive exclusion by livestock.
The Rufford Foundation
2019 - 2020
- Serengeti wildebeest population survey
Frankfurt Zoological Society
2018 - 2019
- SFC-GCRF: Identifying GCRF challenges for sustainable agriculture and ecosystem services in Tanzania's livestock sector
Scottish Funding Council
2016 - 2017
- BBSRC IAAF - Boyd Orr Tanzania Research Accelerator
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
2016 - 2017
2015 - 2019
- Can tail hair inform us about an animals history? Recreating a physiological diary of migrating Serengeti wildebeest through time
British Ecological Society
2014 - 2016
- Can tail hair inform us about an animal's history? Recreating a physiological diary of migrating Serengeti wildebeest through time
British Ecological Society
2014 - 2015
- Novel approaches to recreating animal histories: the metabolic signature of hair (ISSF Catalyst)
2013 - 2014
- Buchanan, Callum
Long-term Physiological Trends and their Drivers: Linking Hair Hormone Concentrations with Telemetry Data in GPS-collared Serengeti Wildebeest
- Cotgrove, Lucy
Collective Behaviour and Alternating Modes of Leadership
- McDevitt, Heather
Animal movement, ecological integrity and sustainable infrastructure development in sub-Sahara Africa