Position: University lecturer, University of Otago.
Field: Conservation biology.
Dr Phil Bishop is a lecturer in the zoology department at the University of Otago. He is a herpetologist specialising in amphibian biology and is actively involved in frog conservation. Phil collaborates with students and scientists around New Zealand as well as internationally.
Our planet is on loan from the children of the future, and we need to make sure that it is in a really good state when we hand it back to our children, so that they can pass it back to their children!
Phil’s passion for frogs began when he was 4 years old. Growing up, he kept frogs and toads as pets at his home in the UK. This early fascination led him to study zoology and parasitology at Cardiff University. During his PhD and many years spent in South Africa, Phil had a lot of adventures, including close encounters with crocodiles and hippos during his field work!
A lot of Phil’s research in South Africa focused on frog communication (frogs were the first animal to use airborne sound to communicate!). When he found out that New Zealand frogs communicate without using any sounds, he became very curious about our native frogs. This curiosity led Phil to New Zealand where he began studying the chemical communication in our native frogs. This was interesting work, but Phil discovered that these frogs were fast disappearing. He then started to research frog conservation and frog diseases. This led him to become passionate about saving these unique animals from extinction.
Phil’s current work involves teaching university students about biodiversity, animal behaviour, conservation and cell biology. When he’s not teaching, he’s busy ‘playing’ with his frogs. This is the part of his job he really enjoys as it involves researching ways of improving the future prospects of amphibians in New Zealand as well as in the rest of the world.
In addition to his uninversity work Phil is the Chief Scientist of the Amphibian Survival Alliance (ASA), a role he has had since the Alliance started back in 2011 and also co-Chair of the IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group (ASG).
This article is based on information current in 2010 and updated in 2018.