Eco-explore Community Interest Company is a scientific research and communication enterprise, established in 2010.


A start-up grant from Caerphilly Borough Council, and close links with Cardiff University and the Wildlife Trusts of South and West Wales, have enabled us to diversify into a variety of roles:


  • Guided walks and Wildlife Events; citizen-science, collecting biodiversity data and experiencing Wales’ wonderful wildlife
  • Overseas expeditions; making discoveries and aiding conservation
  • Environmental consultancy; providing data and advice on a range of conservation issues
  • Data analysis; teaching statistics, data analysis consultancy and publishing our own data analysis guidebook
  • School, Undergraduate and graduate training; with Cardiff University – hosting school work experience placements, university Professional Training Year placements, and co-supervision of PhD projects
  • Promoting local conservation; practical conservation, grant funding and campaigning
  • Supporting conservation NGOs; Eco-explore is a not-for profit organization – revenue is used to support joint projects in collaboration with conservation NGOs, primarily with the Wildlife Trusts Wales and through the Welsh Wildlife Partnership scheme, helping to conserve Wales’ wildlife for future generations.


Who are we?


We are a team of enthusiastic ecologists and zoologists linked to Cardiff University, who enjoy exploring and studying the wildlife and ecosystems of South Wales and beyond.


Dr Alex Pollard

Alex Pollard Eco Explore

Alex is managing director of Eco-explore, as well as being an ecological consultant with Wildwood Ecology, chair of Cardiff Bat Group and a member of Valleys and Monmouthshire Bat Groups, and all-round naturalist. She completed her PhD on visual constraints on bird behaviour in 2009 at Cardiff University, and before that she studied zoology at the University of Liverpool. Her favourite animal is the robin, which was the main species studied in her PhD.


Dr Rob Thomas

Rob Thomas Eco Explore

Rob is co-director of Eco-explore and a lecturer at Cardiff University, specializing in bird behaviour, ecology and data analysis. He is a keen birdwatcher and goes birding almost every day – mainly at his local reservoirs – though he also enjoys exploring new habitats overseas.


Rob runs regular courses on data analysis and is lead author of our guidebook to “Data Analysis with R Statistical Software”. His favourite animal is the storm petrel; smallest of the Atlantic seabirds, which is the subject of one of our overseas expeditions – Storm Petrels In Portugal.


Dr Jim Vafidis

 James Vafidis Eco Explore

Jim is co-director of Eco-explore as well as a lecturer in ecology and conservation at the University of the West of England. Jims research focuses on the impacts of climate change on wetland and upland ecosystems and the trophic resources available to insectivores such as birds and bats. Jim is highly experienced in ecological assessment, bird-ringing, protected species survey and monitoring, data analysis and science-communication.

Jeremy (Jez) Smith (PhD).

Jez Smith Eco Explore

Jez is a co-director and postgraduate data analyst. He has extensive expedition experience having participated in and lead expeditions in Europe, Africa and Central America. He currently co-leads our Senegalese expedition with Rob and has spent over 2 years working on overseas research and expeditions.

Whilst in the UK Jez is part of the data analysis team working on projects such as analysing movements of Peregrine Falcons between the high Arctic and Asia and assisting in the postgraduate training courses.


Associated research students (co-sponsored by Eco-explore)

  • Alex McCubbin
  • Amy Schwartz