UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources

Dr Elizabeth Boakes

Dr Elizabeth Boakes

Teaching Fellow

Genetics, Evolution & Environment

Div of Biosciences

Joined UCL
2nd Aug 2012

Research summary

My research encompasses a wide range of topics in conservation and ecology.  Most of my research is at a macro-ecological scale.  

I am currently on secondment at UCL's Institute of Sustainable Resources, working with Dr Carole Dalin on the BIOTA project. I am investigating the effect of the international trade in food on biodiversity and will be exploring the effects of future trade and land use scenarios.

After my secondment I will return to my work within the TRADE Hub https://www.unep-wcmc.org/featured-projects/trade
This project involves over 50 partner organisations from 15 countries, seeking ways to make the trade of bushmeat and agricultural commodities more sustainable. I am involved in the project's 'Work Package 5', using models to predict the impacts of trade on biodiversity under different future scenarios.

Prior to TRADE, I was working on the SENTINEL project, investigating trade-offs between biodiversity and food security in Ethiopia, Ghana and Zambia.  I am interested in what we might learn from patterns of past land-use changes and am still working on assessing the effects of historical land conversion in these countries with respect to food security and biodiversity change.

I am also involved in the Dynamics of African Ecosystems project.  The aim of this project is to use a General Ecosystem Model, the Madingley Model, to predict the combined effects of climate change, land use change and bushmeat hunting on African ecosystems.

Previously I have studied spatial patterns of local extinction, using the avian order Galliformes as a case study.  Using a historical occurrence records I have investigated whether local extinctions tend to occur at the edge or centre of a species range (the answer is, it's complicated!)  I am now working on a project assessing the extent to which Protected Areas prevent local extinction.

The process of collecting the historical Galliformes data led me to become interested in citizen science.  I collaborated with the Extreme Citizen Science (ExCiteS) group at UCL, looking at biases in UK citizen science data in order to understand volunteers' behaviour.  A common criticism of citizen science data is that they tell us more about the volunteers collecting the data than about the distribution of biodiversity.  I thought that we could utilise this bias - by looking at biases within citizen science data we can see what, when and where, volunteers like to record data.  This information would allow us to improve the fit between the data that scientists would like and the data that volunteers enjoy collecting.

I am also interested in gender equality in STEM.  I did a short postdoc with Soapbox Science, investigating the impact that Soapbox Science has on its Speakers professional lives and on the general public.

During my PhD, I investigated the effects of inbreeding depression and purging in zoo animals.


University of Cambridge
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 2006
Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine
Other higher degree, Master of Science | 2002
University of Sheffield
Other higher degree, Master of Physics | 2000