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Dr David Cooper

Dr David Cooper
Postdoctoral Researcher
Specific responsibility: Postdoctoral Researcher on the Wellcome Trust Project: From ‘Feed the Birds’ to ‘Do Not Feed the Animals’.
Research interests/expertise: Vertebrate morphometric analysis, biogeography and Geographical Information Science (GIS)

David Cooper is a postdoctoral researcher on the Wellcome Trust Project: From ‘Feed the Birds’ to ‘Do Not Feed the Animals’.

David has a geographical background, having studied Geography at Loughborough University and Geographical Information Science at The University of Edinburgh. His PhD was conducted jointly between The National Museums Scotland and The University of Edinburgh, and investigates geographical and morphological variation in the lion and tiger. This project utilises the extensive big cat osteological collection at the National Museums Collection Centre.

As of 2021, David has been working on a collaborative Wellcome Trust research project which aims to tackle multidisciplinary questions surrounding animal feeding. This project spans The Universities of Exeter, Roehampton and Reading, and the National Museums Scotland. David brings expertise in geographical, and morphometric analysis to a wider team of zooarchaeologists, geochemists, anthropologists and social scientists. The project seeks to establish the drivers and consequences of animal feeding within three main areas:

  • Human feeding and urbanisation of the red fox in Britain      
  • Human feeding of birds and cats and whether they are wild, feral or domestic
  • Human feeding of captive wild animals in zoos

Cooper, D.M., Yamaguchi, N., Macdonald, D.W., Patterson, B.D., Salkina, G.P., Yudin, V.G., Dugmore, A.J. and Kitchener, A.C. 2023. Getting to the Meat of It: The Effects of a Captive Diet upon the Skull Morphology of the Lion and Tiger. Animals 13 (23): 3616. 

Cooper D.M., Yamaguchi N., Macdonald D.W., Nanova O.G., Yudin V.G., Dugmore A.J., Kitchener A.C. 2022. Phenotypic plasticity determines differences between the skulls of tigers from mainland Asia. Royal Society Open Science 9: 220697.

Cooper, D.M., Dugmore, A.J., Kitchener, A.C., Metzger, M.J. and Trabucco, A. 2021. A Kingdom in Decline: Holocene range contraction of the lion (Panthera leo) modelled with global environmental stratification. PeerJ 9:

Cooper, D.M., Dugmore, A.J., Kitchener, A.C., Metzger, M.J. and Trabucco, A. 2020. Lion range changes through the late Quaternary, modelled using Global Environmental Stratification [dataset]. The University of Edinburgh, School of Geosciences, Institute of Geography 

Dugmore, A., Jackson, R., Cooper, D., Newton, A., Júlíusson , A.D., Streeter, R.T., Hreinsson, V., Crabtree, S., Hambrecht, G., Hicks, M., & McGovern, T.H. 2020. Continuity in the Face of a Slowly Unfolding Catastrophe: The Persistence of Icelandic Settlement Despite Large-Scale Soil Erosion. In P. Sheets, & F. Riede (Eds.), Going forward by looking back: : Archaeological Perspectives on Socio-Ecological Crisis, Response, and Collapse. Berghahn Books: New York.

Cooper, D.M., Dugmore, A.J., Gittings, B.M., Wilting, A. and Kitchener, A.C. 2016. Predicted Pleistocene-Holocene range shifts of the tiger (Panthera tigris). Diversity and Distributions 22 (11): 1199-1211. 

Persian leopard

Do Not Feed the Animals

This collaborative project looks at the roots of animal feeding, to establish the benefits and risk to humans, animals, and the environment.

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Lions Family Portrait Masai Mara1


A recent paper reveals a double blow to lion populations over the last 20,000 years.

A Lions Kingdom in Decline

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