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Elisa Dierickx

Elisa Dierickx

PhD student

Office Phone: 01223 (3)34430


2007 - 2011: BA with a major in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University

2011 - present: Co-founder and Vice President of "Fundação Maio Biodiversidade" (FMB), a nature conservation NGO in Maio, Cape Verde, together with Prof. Tamas Szekely (University of Bath)

2013: intern in Prof. Scott Edwards' lab, Dept of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University

2013 - present: PhD student supervised by Dr. Mike Brooke, Behavioural Ecology Group, Dept of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Trinity College

Research Interests

I am interested in both the theoretical and practical aspects of conservation. My work largely takes place in Cape Verde, an archipelago 570km off the coast of Western Africa.

Genetics of past and future bottlenecks in an island endemic, the Raso lark, using RAD-tag sequencing: implications for reintroduction programs

I study the definition and quantification of what constitutes an “extreme” bottleneck. I chose the critically endangered Raso lark (Alauda razae) as my study species because, as it is currently found on only one island in Cape Verde, Raso, and will soon be reintroduced onto Santa Luzia, it presents an ideal system in which to pursue these research aims. In addition to these theoretical implications, this work will have a number of practical applications. First, it will provide a better understanding of the life history and evolutionary path of this endangered species, and allow me to make recommendations concerning the number of birds needed for the planned reintroduction. Second, the results will be useful for planning reintroductions of other island birds. Finally, I will use the opportunity to test the applications and limitations of Rad-tag sequencing in the conservation of endemic island species.

Conservation genomics of Japanese and Hawaiian black-footed albatross populations using Rad-tag sequencing

Project with the Scott Edwards Lab, OEB Dept, Harvard University.

"Hands-on" conservation in Maio, Cape Verde

In 2011, together with Prof. Tamas Szekely (University of Bath), I started up the nature conservation NGO "Fundação Maio Biodiversidade" (FMB) on the island of Maio, in Cape Verde. The goal of FMB is to protect the unique fauna and flora of the island, and at the same time create opportunities and long-term benefits for the people of Maio.  Six projects are currently being carried out: 1. Managing two natural reserves on Maio (Terras Salgadas and Porto Inglês); 2. Protecting nesting turtles on the beaches of Maio; 3. Conducting baseline biodiversity surveys on future hotel construction sites; 4. Investigating the strandings of the short-finned pilot whale; 5. Developing ecotourism as a sustainable alternative to mass tourism; 6. Creating a Biodiversity Center. More information about FMB can be found at


Key Publications

Dierickx, E.G., Shultz, A.J., Sato, F., Hiraoka, T., and S.V. Edwards. Morphological and genomic comparisons of Hawaiian and Japanese Black‐footed Albatrosses (Phoebastria nigripes) using double digest RADseq: implications for conservation. Evolutionary Applications, 2015.