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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

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.

Population dynamics and population genetics of the Raso lark using RADseq: implications for conservation

The Critically Endangered Raso lark (Alauda razae) is only found on the small island of Raso (7km2) in Cape Verde, but will hopefully soon be reintroduced onto Santa Luzia Island. I study two phenomena that particularly put the species at risk: its extreme fluctuations in population size, and its potentially very low genetic diversity arising from small population size and severe past bottlenecks. More specifically, I estimate year-to-year survival and explore the factors - environmental and individual - that influence it. I also study the Raso lark’s genetic characteristics compared to its two continental and widespread closest relatives (the skylark and the Oriental lark), including phylogenetic relationships and levels of genetic diversity. These new results will be used to make recommendations for the translocation of the Raso lark.

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, I started up the nature conservation NGO "Fundação Maio Biodiversidade" (FMB) on the island of Maio, in Cape Verde, together with Prof. Tamas Szekely. Our projects range from the management of Maio’s natural reserves in partnership with the Cape Verdean Department of Environment to our award-winning and innovative sea turtle protection programme. Our projects are carried out by 90 remunerated team members and 150+ volunteers, and are characterized by community-based strategies and strong scientific foundations. 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.