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Profile of Tom Major

Tom Major
PhD Student
School of Biological Sciences, Bangor University, Deiniol Road, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 2UW



I attended University at Exeter’s Cornwall campus to study Ecology as a postgraduate. Using cutting-edge digital photography and analysis I investigated the purpose of colour change in flap-necked chameleons (Chamaeleo dilepis) in the lab of Dr Martin Stevens, with supervision from Drs Lucy Hawkes and Jan Stipala.

Upon graduating, I spent time volunteering in Cyprus for the Society for the Protection of Turtles, and in Thailand for Sakaerat Snake Education and Conservation Team. Working with pit viper spatial ecology in Thailand opened my eyes to the possibility of studying individual animals in detail using radiotelemetry, learning about the behaviours and movements of these poorly understood creatures. Shortly after, I took up a job as a Ranger for Hampshire County Council, which gave me an opportunity to manage land for wildlife and interact with volunteers, as well as teaching schoolchildren about the outdoors.

Now undertaking my PhD, I work with Drs Wolfgang Wüster, John Mulley and Matthew Hayward. My research uses numerous methodologies (radiotelemetry, mark-recapture, GIS niche modelling, climate modelling, and mtDNA analysis) to understand the success and potential spread of an introduced species, the Aesculapian snake (Zamenis longissimus), in North Wales.

I co-host a podcast about reptile and amphibian science called Herpetological Highlights, and I am on Twitter.



The research I am doing investigates the population ecology and dynamics, habitat use, genetic variability, population viability, and future impact of a non-native species of snake, the Ausculapian snake (Zamenis longissimus) in North Wales. The snakes were accidentally introduced to Colwn Bay in the 1960s, and have been breeding successfully in the wild since then. The project represents an opportunity to study a non-native species population in its entirety. We aim to understand the ecological impacts it may be having, as well as the habitat and behaviours that allow it to persist in a novel environment.

The Aesculapian snake (Zamenis longissimus). Photo: Wolfgang Wüster

My PhD is generously supported by, and in conjunction with, the Welsh Mountain Zoo in Colwyn Bay, the grounds of which are where the Aesculapian snakes are found. The funding is from Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS II), a European Convergence programme led by Bangor University on behalf of the Welsh higher education sector. KESS offers collaborative research projects (Research Masters and PhD) linked with a local company partner with scholarships supported by the European Social Fund.



Strine, C., Brown, A., Barnes, C., Major, T., Artchawakom, T., Hill III, J., & Suwanwaree, P. (In Press). Arboreal Mating Behaviors of the Big-eyed Green Pit Viper (Trimeresurus macrops) in Northeast Thailand (Reptilia: Viperidae). Current Herpetology, 37(1).

Barnes, C., Strine, C., Suwanwaree, P., & Major, T. (In Press).  Cryptelytrops albolabris (White-lipped Viper). Behavior. Herpetological Review.
Major, T. (2017). Caudal Luring By a Captive Common Boa, Boa sp. Captive and Field Herpetology, 1 (1), 13-15.

Major, T., Knierim, T., Barnes, C., Lonsdale, G., Waengsothorn, S., & Strine, C. (2017). Observations of Arboreality in a Burrowing Frog, the Banded Bullfrog, Kaloula pulchra (Amphibia: Anura: Microhylidae). Current Herpetology36(2), 148-152.

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