UCL Department of Geography


Jan Axmacher

I joined UCL Geography in 2005, and my current roles are Professor of Biodiversity Conservation and Head of Teaching / Deputy Head of Department. I am also the Director of the UCL MSc Conservation programme. 

My diverse research and education portfolios cover aspects of applied biodiversity conservation and ecosystem restoration, ecosystem services, environmental governance, biodiversity metrics, patterns of invertebrate and plant diversity in space and time, models linking these patterns to environmental factors like climate and land-use change, ecological survey techniques, alien species invasions, sustainable resource use, biogeography and biogeochemical processes. 

My research is conducted in agricultural, forested and mountainous landscapes across the globe. 

More about Professor Axmacher

My academic career started in my native Germany, where I studied geo-ecology (‘Diplom’ studies ~ equivalent to an MSci, 1993-1998) at Bayreuth University. At the same university, I subsequently completed PhD studies (Dr. rer. nat., 1999-2003) investigating biodiversity patterns of plants and moths on the SW slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. After a year spent at the University of Hohenheim as PDRA/PDTA, where I helped establish a joint Sino-German research training group with the China Agricultural University, I arrived at UCL in 2005, where I took on a position as lecturer. 

Here, I shifted my research focus from tropical mountain rainforests to agricultural and forest habitats in temperate regions, and I started diversifying my education and research portfolios from a strong biogeographical and macroecological focus to increasingly include applied aspects of biodiversity conservation, environmental governance and restoration ecology. The invasion patterns and potential control of alien species, ecosystem services and biodiversity metrics/multivariate statistics subsequently added to the breadth of this portfolio.  

In 2013, I was promoted to Senior Lecturer/Associate Professor, and in 2021 to Professor of Biodiversity Conservation. Between 2020 and 2023, I also held a Guest Professor position at the Agricultural University of Iceland. 

In relation to outreach activities, I have for example been engaged with IPBES, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. I was elected as Lead Author for the IPBES Regional Assessment for Asia and the Pacific Region, focusing particularly on Chapter 4 (drivers). I am also currently a fellow of “Advance HE” (formerly the Higher Education Academy), the Royal Entomological Society (RES) and the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), and a Member of the Society for Conservation Biology, the International Biogeography Society and the Institute for Biodiversity – Network.    


I am the Course Convenor for MSc Conservation.

I teach on the following modules:




To view Professor Axmacher's publications, please visit UCL Profiles:

Research Interests

We are facing unprecedented environmental pressures from dramatic changes in climatic conditions and the rapid loss of biodiversity and associated environmental resources and services. I have dedicated my academic research career to establishing how these factors are linked, and how they affect particularly the composition and diversity of plant and invertebrate assemblages, and associated ecosystem services like pollination, biological pest control and agricultural yields.

Most of my research activities aim to establish what we can do to mitigate the rapidly changing environmental conditions we are facing, and, crucially, how we can adapt biodiversity conservation efforts, environmental management and agricultural practices to optimize positive outcomes both for the natural environment and for humanity.


I strongly contribute towards debates relating to biodiversity conservation, habitat restoration, environmental management and climate change adaptation. I am particularly passionate about promoting the crucial roles played by the most species-rich taxa on our planet that nonetheless have been strongly neglected in these debates. Other focal areas of my research that generate significant impact include contributions towards an improved understanding of the colonization patterns of invasive species, which are becoming an increasingly severe problem across the world. 

As lead author (LA), I have participated in the 'Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services' (IPBES) 'Regional Assessment for Asia and the Pacific' (IPBES Deliverable 2 (b)). 

Together with my Chinese colleagues, I have also been in discussion with representatives of relevant Chinese Ministries to explore how the sustainability of agricultural practices in China can be enhanced, and how the agricultural landscape structure can be optimized, to conserve and enhance biodiversity and the provision of ecosystem services in the agricultural landscapes. 

Research Students

Current PhD Research Students

  • Beth Stacey (2024-) Working title: Scandinavian large carnivore communities and their interaction with local prey populations 
  • Claudia Fernandez De Cordoba Farini (2023-) Working title: Cross-sector relationships between food systems and biodiversity conservation 
  • Elizabeth Downey (2023-) Working title: Ecological baselines, biodiversity conservation and human-wildlife co-existence – opportunities and insights from natural history collections 
  • Jian Chen (2021-) Working title: Marine Protected Area Governance in a Chinese Context 
  • Charlie ​​​​​​Hackforth (2021-) Working title: Insect diversity and pollination networks in Congolese peat swamp forest 
  • Hurling, S  (2021-) Working title: Distribution, population dynamics and conservation status of Iceland’s nocturnal seabirds. PhD project based at the Agricultural University of Iceland) 
  • Joshua Powell (2020-) Working title: Challenges and Opportunities for Transboundary Conservation of Amur tigers (Panthera tigris tigris) in North-East Asia 
  • David Downes (2018-) Working title: Importance of pond restoration for the conservation of freshwater biodiversity in agricultural landscapes 
  • Helen Greaves (2011-) Working title: Assessing the value of pond management for biodiversity conservation 

Past PhD Research Students

  • Paulson K (2023) No man is an island: Collaboration, communication, and other facilitators and barriers to environmental indicator use as heterogenous policy tools in the environmental governance of Small Island Developing States 
  • Unger L (2023) Using palaeolimnology to determine restoration targets for the Madagascan Pochard 
  • Pritchard E (2021) New approaches for exploring signal crayfish invasion biology and ecological impacts in headwater streams (UCL) 
  • Chadwick D (2019) Invasion of the signal crayfish, 'Pacifastacus leniusculus', in England: implications for the conservation of the white-clawed crayfish, 'Austropotamobius pallipes' (UCL) 
  • Lewis-Phillips J (2019) Contribution of pond management to local bird abundance and diversity on farms in lowland England (UCL) 
  • Walton R (2019) “The pond pollinator pantry”: Assessing how pond management influences pollinators in the UK farmland landscape (UCL) 
  • Alderton E (2017) "Ghost ponds" Resurrecting lost ponds and species to assist aquatic biodiversity conservation (UCL) 
  • Clilverd H (2016) Hydroecological monitoring and modelling of river-floodplain restoration in a UK lowland river meadow (UCL) 
  • Puspitasari S (2016) Biogeography and ecology of beetles in a tropical archipelago: A case study from Kepulauan Seribu Marine National Park (UCL) 
  • Yi Z (2014) Insect diversity patterns along environmental gradients in the temperate forests of Northern China (UCL) 
  • Shepherd V (2014) Beetle diversity of chalk river floodplains (UCL) 
  • Jun M (2014) Governing Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in California: Analysis of the MLPA Implementation process (UCL) 
  • Geijer C (2013) Connecting the nodes: migratory whale conservation and the challenge of accommodating uncertainty (UCL) 
  • Qui W (2010) Governing Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in China: Towards the repositioning of the Central State and the empowerment of local communities (UCL) 
  • Jaksic-Born C (2008) Das Feuerregime im Queen Elizabeth Nationalpark, Uganda - Auswirkung auf die Verbreitung und Habitatnutzung grosser Herbivoren (University of Basel, Switzerland) 

Completed MSc Students

  • Cheung HL (2023) The impact of fire on soil and litter biodiversity in forests 
  • van Dinter H (2023) Do Alderney's blonde hedgehogs produce any melanin? 
  • Dolan J (2023), Assessing historical forest cover and vegetation changes in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea using Remote Sensing and Local Ecological Knowledge 
  • Gandon GG (2023), The impacts of nature reserves and ecotourism on local livelihoods 
  • Godding C (2023), The consumption, trade and conservation of endangered civets in South and Southeast Asia 
  • Mackintosh J (2023), The effects of climatic factors on green sea turtle nest development in Terengganu, Peninsular Malaysia 
  • Oxer M (2023), The impacts of selective logging on tropical forest structure and leaf traits 
  • Russell M (2023), The contribution of nocturnal moths to pollen transport in an area of lowland calcareous grassland in Oxford, UK 
  • Yuen B (2023), Population Structure and Habitat Occupancy Patterns of Native and Non-Native Crayfish Communities in the River Glaven, Norfolk 
  • Burd C (2022), Historical trends of relic Panthera spp. populations in South Korea 
  • Demuynck H (2022), The influence of priority effects following restoration in a series of Belgian ponds 
  • Fisher L (2022), The impact of climate change on soil and litter biodiversity 
  • Fox E (2022), Relating aquatic macrophyte communities to native and invasive crayfish density in a rocky headwater catchment 
  • Nykiel-Jastrzebski F (2022), Alien ant invasion potential in response to a changing climate 
  • Zevenbergen R (2022), Effect of climatic conditions on the efficacy of a Sea Turtle Conservation Programme in Malaysia 
  • Andreeva G (2021), Conflict and coexistence of humans and Amur tigers in the Russian Far East 
  • Dias M (2021), Assessing the efficacy of the deworming protocol at the Iberian Lynx National Reproduction Centre, Portugal 
  • Eke-Goodwin P (2021), A Pond’s Purpose - Differences in insect availability at open and overgrown farmland ponds and impacts on farmland bird and bat activity 
  • Hurling S (2021), Northern Storm-Petrels (Hydrobatidae): An Assessment of Conservation Threats in Europe 
  • Scott L (2021), Investigating the influence of climate change on British moth species richness and species abundance 
  • Shen Y (2021), Impact interactions from multiple alien species invasions on invertebrate communities in English rivers 
  • Alfs BW (2020), Floodplain Vegetation Responses to the Removal of an Embankment and Re-meandering of a Chalk Stream River 
  • Allan JMO (2020), Vegetation response to peatland restoration: a review 
  • Baker LJ (2020), The importance of farmland pond management for aquatic macrophyte diversity in Norfolk, UK 
  • Zhan P (2020), Empirically-based assessment of the effectiveness of non-pharmaceutical interventions for containing COVID-19 in Europe and Asia 
  • Zoha S (2020), Assessing the impact of climate change on cetacean distribution in Iceland 
  • Feider F (2019), A global investigation of camera trap damage and loss, and their mitigation measures in ecological surveys 
  • Hong SY (2019), Diversity and distribution of ground beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) in Northeast China and South Korea 
  • Humphries A (2019), An analysis of the diversity patterns in plants and ground beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) in North-eastern China’s forested landscape 
  • Lee DJ (2019), Investigating ecological impacts of invasive freshwater demon shrimp (Dikerogammarus haemobaphes, Eichwald 1841) in Lea Valley and Colne Catchment, UK, using citizen science tools 
  • Lyu Z (2019), An investigation into the distribution patterns of nocturnal macromoths (Lepidoptera) across various semi-natural habitats in a modern agricultural landscape in Norfolk, UK, during summer time 
  • Song Y (2019), Ground beetle diversity patterns in temporate secondary and plantation forests of northeast China 
  • Waygood U (2019), Urban foraging: Its role in conservation and green space management in London 
  • Field A (2018), Temporal dynamics of pond restoration and its relationship with habitat mosaics in agricultural landscapes 
  • MacLaughlin A (2018), A tern of the tide? Monitoring the breeding productivity of little terns (Sternula albifrons) at Blakeney National Nature Reserve 
  • Baxter B (2017), Putting people at the heart of the environment: The visitor access and conservation conflict of the Thames Basin Heath SPAs 
  • Cottam L (2017), Hedgerow management schemes and their effect on plant diversity 
  • Rothero D (2017), Cultural ecosystem services – In what way do local people value green spaces in Walthamstow and what are the implications for the conservation of protected areas in this urban area? 
  • Sui Z (2017), Exploring geographic distributions of three plant species in China based on Maximum Entropy Models 
  • Diekman M (2016), Diversity patterns of ground beetle communities in forest and agricultural habitats of Liaoning, Northeast China 
  • Bishop Vranch L (2015), Microvolunteerism in conservation: the impact of email updates on the attitudinal and behavioural engagement of citizen scientists 
  • Brennan EJ (2015), Diversity and assemblage patterns of ground beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) and understory vegetation in the forests of Liaoning Province, China 
  • Caviedes Paúl JJ (2015), Influence of anthropogenic disturbances on stand-structural complexity in Anden temperate forests 
  • Atzeni L (2014), On the role of red-collared brown lemur for the regeneration of littoral forest fragments 
  • Breden N (2014), The influences of habitat type and environmental characteristics on bat activity along five streams in East Sussex 
  • Kasana D (2014), Terning tides 
  • Flint D (2013), Silver-studded Blue (Plebejus argus) butterfly abundance, distribution and behavioural patterns, and associations with habitat condition 
  • Kirkland M (2013), The impacts and sustainability of hunting and fishing by the Cocoma-Cocamilla people in the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, Peru 
  • Salvaterra T (2013), Promoting conservation and sustainability awareness: a case study at London Zoo 
  • Capstick L (2012), Using historical farming records to analyse the factors contributing to the decline of the grey partridge (Perdix perdix) and investigate the possibilities for its future recovery 
  • Edmondson H (2012), National Character Areas: A landscape-scale conservation framework for Higher Level Stewardship 
  • Handley T (2012), Current status of Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) in Montes de Toledos, central Spain 
  • Llewellyn L (2012), Response of a floodplain carabid beetle community to stream restoration and grazing 
  • Lowndes L (2012), Bird Wars 
  • Parnwell E (2012), Nature Conservation in London’s urban woodland: An evaluation of factors affecting biodiversity 
  • Honour L (2011), Investigation of the feeding ecology of a small population of southern giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis giraffa) on a private nature reserve in South Africa, and the implications for conservation and management of the species 
  • Raggett L (2011), Mitigation for Annex II Bat foraging and commuting habitat – Hoping for the best? 
  • Strebel G (2011), Impacts of grassland farming on the Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra): appropriate conservation measures for a threatened grassland bird in the Goms valley, Switzerland 
  • Warren-Thomas E (2011) Insect diversity conservation in the secondary forests of Northern China 
  • Zak A (2011), The effects of rhino dehorning: Rhino behaviour and tourist attitudes at the Oserian Wildlife Sanctuary in Kenya 
  • Bergland L (2010), Prospects for the conservation of brown bears (Ursus arctos) and Asian black bears (Ursus thibetanus) in Fenglin Man and Biosphere Reserve, Yichun, China 
  • Fenton E (2010), Can you call a Gibbon by its call? 
  • Kingsley H (2010), An investigation into the habitat suitability for Armur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) of Fenglin National Nature Reserve, Heilongjiang Province, China 
  • Longhurst K (2010), Investigating the conservation implications of using zero-tillage in agricultural systems in the UK 
  • Needham O (2010), Avian density and distribution at Fenglin Nature Reserve, Yichun City, China 
  • Yates F (2010), The effect of Himalayan Balsam Impatiens glandulifera on carabid and other epigeal invertebrate assemblages and diversity in riparian vegetation 
  • Craig J (2009), Modelling Lion territories and capacity in Kenya 
  • Smith L (2009), Does hunting inhibit regeneration of primate-dispersed tree species in Amazonian Ecuador? 
  • Storie A (2009), Planning and Biodiversity Conservation: Deciding the appropriate scale of mitigation for habitat loss - Northamptonshire Grasslands 
  • Collingham N (2008), Impacts of pheasant releasing on carabid and other epigeal invertebrate assemblages and diversity in broadleaved deciduous woodland 
  • Deakin E (2008), Impacts of recreational disturbance on the ecological functioning of Rdum tal-Madonna SPA/SAC, Malta 
  • Gurney J (2008) Study of the cattle grazing trial in Richmond Park 
  • Livingston F (2008), An Investigation into Habitat Requirements and ecology of the Small Red-Eyed Damselfly (Erythromma viridulum, Charpentier) in South-East England 
  • Majid SA (2008), Vegetation Patterns and Anthropogenic Effects in Al-Reem Biosphere Reserve in Qatar 
  • Cartwright S (2007), Habitat Association of the Critically Endangered Djibouti Francolin (Francolinus ochropectus) in the Forêt du Day, Djibouti 
  • Cording F (2007), Greenspaces in the London Borough of Enfield: Use of Electronic Devices in Habitat Surveys and the Consideration of Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation 
  • Cotton D (2007), Beech woodland fragmentation and factors affecting the persistence of rarities 
  • Kapsalas G (2007), Biodiversity of ground beetles in river floodplains: implications for river restoration and conservation 
  • Neal S (2007), An assessment of the Herpetofaunal biological diversity of the Hydrological Reserve on Isla Del Ray, Las Perlas Archipelago, Panama 
  • Ashby N (2006), Ecological connectance of river-floodplain systems in lowland England: implications for river restoration and riparian ecosystem conservation 
  • Gilbert T (2006), Population density and diet of the African golden cat Profelis aurata in Lope National Park, Gabon 
  • Sahlen V (2006), Effects of slaughter remains on female brown bear behaviour and implications for Swedish/Scandinavian carnivore tourism and bear management policy 
  • Vaux H (2006), Arribada Olive Ridleys at Ostional, Costa Rica : are low levels of fertility or high levels of organic matter to blame for low hatching rates? 
Research Grants, Prizes and Awards


  • 2016 International Fellow; Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS, Fellowship Number 2015SA15)
  • ​​​​​​2011 Visiting Fellowship for International Scientists Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS, Fellowship Number 2011T2S18)
  • 2010 Visiting Fellowship for Young International Scientists Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS, Fellowship Number 2010Y1SA16)

Research projects

  • 2011 – 2024 The role of farmland pond restoration and management for aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity and ecosystem service provisions in agricultural landscapes; Co-Principal investigator (Co-PI)
  • 2017 – 2021 Assessment of ecological resources and environmental compensation strategies for China’s National Parks and other protected areas; Co-Investigator (Co-I)
  • 2015 – 2021 Impact of alien crayfish invasions on freshwater ecosystems; Co-PI
  • 2018 – 2020 Relationships between insect and plant diversity and their functioning and services across trophic levels in China’s temperate forests; Co-I 
  • 2013 – 2016 Biodiversity patterns at different trophic levels in temperate forest ecosystems and their response to climate and environmental change; Co-PI 
  • 2007 – 2015 Effects of river restoration on ecology and biogeochemical processes of floodplain ecosystems in the agricultural landscapes of Norfolk, UK; Co-PI 
  • 2011 – 2012 Relationship between vascular plant and insect diversity in warm-temperate forest ecosystems; Principal Investigator (PI)
  • 2008 – 2011 Biodiversity patterns at varying trophic levels along an altitudinal gradient in the agricultural landscapes of Northern China; Co-I 
  • 2006 – 2008 Modelling the biodiversity of carabids in the agrarian landscape of Northern China; Co-I