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My research focuses on biodiversity conservation and land use change in the tropics. I use field studies and existing data sets to investigate the outcomes of land use change for biodiversity, climate change and livelihoods. I use both ecological and economic approaches to assess the costs and benefits of different conservation strategies and scenarios of land use change.
More broadly, my aim is to provide evidence for decision-making and planning for biodiversity conservation, environmental protection and sustainability. As part of this aim, I completed a three month policy internship with the Environment and Research Team at the Research Service of the National Assembly for Wales, UK
PhD research – habitat loss, biodiversity and economics in the Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot
My PhD work, supervised by Paul Dolman and David Edwards is centred on the Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot, where globally endangered species and forest ecosystems are being threatened by demand for timber and agricultural land. The expansion of rubber plantations onto forest is a key threat in the region.
Industrial-scale rubber monoculture in Cambodia
(Photo by Eleanor Warren-Thomas)
My current work has a number of strands, including:
- the importance of rubber plantations as a driver of land use change and biodiversity loss (link to paper and media articles);
- the economics of timber extraction and forest conversion to rubber;
- the carbon emission outcomes of converting forest to rubber plantations;
- whether carbon finance could protect forests against being logged and converted to rubber; and
- whether rubber plantations can be made more hospitable for wildlife using agroforestry systems, while providing livelihood benefits and maintaining rubber production.
Rubber agroforest in Southern Thailand
(Photo by Eleanor Warren-Thomas)
MSc research – ground beetle and moth diversity in Beijing’s new mountain forests
Northern China lost almost all primary forest cover during the 20th century. In response to resulting flooding and soil erosion, especially in mountainous areas, forest cover was re-established through planting and natural forest regeneration. I assessed the invertebrate diversity of secondary and plantation forests in northern China for my MSc thesis research, working with Jan C Axmacher and Yi Zou at UCL. I surveyed carabids and moths in several forest types (planted and naturally regenerated) in Mentougou District, Beijing, and found that each forest type contained distinct communities, contributing to landscape-scale invertebrate diversity (links to papers here, here and here).
Undergraduate research – amphibian communities in fire-affected forests of the Peruvian Amazon
Amazonian forests are increasingly influenced by drought and fires. As part of a small team led by Mary Menton and supported by an RGS Geographical Fieldwork Grant I surveyed forest structure and amphibian communities in fire-affected forests in Madre de Dios, Peru. We found differences in amphibian community composition between bamboo dominated forest and terra-firme forest stands, and found that fire-affected forests supported very substantial amphibian diversity (link to paper).
I have also worked on these projects:
- sustainable multi-use management of brazil nut concessions in the Peruvian Amazon (CIFOR) – see blogs and videos here, here and here;
- amphibian diversity on floating meadows in Pacaya-Samiria National Park, Peru (Katy Upton, DICE, University of Kent) – see blog here; and
- forest carbon stock surveys in Cusuco National Park, Honduras (Operation Wallacea).
Warren-Thomas, E. et al (in review) Protecting tropical forests from the rapid expansion of rubber using carbon payments.
Rockwell, C.A., Guariguata, M.R., Menton, M., Quispe, E.A., Quaedvlieg, J., Warren-Thomas, E., et al. (2017) Spatial distribution of Bertholletia excelsa in selectively logged forests of the Peruvian Amazon. Journal of Tropical Ecology. 1-14. doi:10.1017/S0266467416000614. Abstract
Zou Y., Sang W., Warren-Thomas, E., Axmacher J.C. (2016) Geometrid moth assemblages reflect high conservation value of naturally regenerated secondary forests in temperate China. Forest Ecology and Management. 374, 111–118. doi:10.1016/j.foreco.2016.04.054 Abstract
Rockwell C.A., Guariguata M.R., Menton M., Arroyo Quispe E, Quaedvlieg J, Warren-Thomas E., et al. (2015) Nut Production in Bertholletia excelsa across a Logged Forest Mosaic: Implications for Multiple Forest Use. PLoS ONE. 10 (8): e0135464. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0135464. Full text
Warren-Thomas, E., Dolman, P.M. & Edwards, D.P. (2015). Increasing Demand for Natural Rubber Necessitates a Robust Sustainability Initiative to Mitigate Impacts on Tropical Biodiversity. Conservation Letters. 5 (4), 230-241. doi:10.1111/conl.12170 Full text
Second most accessed paper published by Conservation Letters in 2015, >3,500 full text views or downloads.
Zou, Y., Sang, W., Wang, S., Warren-Thomas, E., Liu, Y., Yu, Z., Wang, C. & Axmacher, J.C. (2015). Diversity patterns of ground beetles and understory vegetation in mature, secondary, and plantation forest regions of temperate northern China. Ecology and Evolution. 5 (3), 531–542. doi: 10.1002/ece3.1367 Full text
Warren-Thomas, E., Zou, Y., Dong, L., Yao, X., Yang, M., Zhang, X., Qin, Y., Liu, Y., Sang, W. & Axmacher, J.C. (2014). Ground beetle assemblages in Beijing’s new mountain forests. Forest Ecology and Management. 334, 369–376. doi:10.1016/j.foreco.2014.09.022 Abstract
Upton, K., Warren-Thomas, E., Rogers, I., Docherty, E. (2014). Amphibian Diversity on Floating Meadows in Flooded Forests of the Peruvian Amazon. Herpetological Review. 45 (2), 209–212. Full text on ResearchGate
Warren-Thomas, E., Menton, M., Huamán, J., Frisancho Vargas, R., Wadley, E., Price, N., Axmacher, J.C. (2013). Frog Communities in Fire-Disturbed Forests of the Peruvian Amazon. Herpetological Bulletin. 123, 14-24. Full text