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James Watson


jwatson (at)

Room 327B, Steele Building

Lab leader

I have always been passionate about nature since I started bird watching as a little boy. I spent my childhood holidays traveling with my family trying to see as many new birds, snakes, mammals, frogs, whatever was on show. Chasing these species allowed me to experience great natural places but also appreciate the enormity of the crisis facing many species and ecosystems. Over the last thirty years I have seen many of the places I fell in love with as a child completely altered and lost.  This is my driving motivation for conservation. All the science I lead and collaborate on is about understanding what makes biodiversity threatened and what actions can we do that best overcome these threats.


I have a joint position with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Queensland. I am based at the University of Queensland as a Principle Research Fellow and at the same time act as the Director of Science and Research Initiative at WCS. WCS works in over 50 countries on landscape and seascape conservation initiatives and is the world’s leading science based conservation NGO. It is a wonderful institution for students, postdoctoral researchers and senior researchers to work with experienced practitioners and policy makers to ensure solid evidence-based conservation outcomes.


Before joining UQ I previously managed both the Society’s global climate mitigation and adaptation teams for four years. I conducted my PhD at the University of Oxford (funded by a Rhodes Scholarship) and worked as a senior campaigner for The Wilderness Society and a post doctoral fellow at UQ.


I am active in a number of global conservation initiatives beyond WCS and am fortunate to serve on a number of boards and committees, including:



I believe deeply in increasing the role of science in informing global policy and I actively serve on the International Panel for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)  Data and Knowledge Task Force and the IUCN’s Key Biodiversity Area taskforce and Climate Change specialist group.


If you are interested in research opportunities that exist in the lab, please reach out to me. If you are interested in following the lab research, follow me on twitter.

Green Fire Science

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