School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Staff Profile

Dr Rike Bolam

Research Associate


I am a research associate in the Modelling, Evidence and Policy group at Newcastle. My work relates to global biodiversity policy; the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Aichi targets with a focus on Target 12 on preventing species extinctions and reversing declines, and the Sustainable Development Goals with a focus on Goal 14, Life below Water, and Goal 15, Life on Land.

I have a strong interest in reproducible research with open workflows for data management and statistical analysis in science, as well as improving the programming skills amongst researchers. I have taught R skills to students from undergraduate to PhD level, and I am also a co-organiser of the Newcastle chapter of R-Ladies.


For my PhD, I studied how to make the most of available evidence for informing conservation decision-making. I used evidence synthesis methods, open-source data and Machine Learning tools for investigating the use of Value of Information in conservation, for modelling tiger numbers and for predicting extinction risk for plants in the Caatinga region in Brazil, and for Data Deficient plants globally.

I also hold a UK bird ringing licence and have extensive experience in monitoring passerines and raptors. I lead a focused study on breeding success of dippers Cinclus cinclus in the Derwent valley in Gateshead (project page). Prior to my PhD, I worked as an ecological consultant, undertaking breeding bird and bat surveys, and as a communications officer and fundraiser for different conservation NGOs.


  • PhD "Addressing uncertainty and limited data in conservation decision-making", 2018
  • MSc Environmental Resource Assessment, Newcastle University, 2014
  • BSc Countryside Management, Newcastle University, 2012

I am on Twitter: @RikeBolam


My work relates to global biodiversity policy, and how we can balance the protection of nature, whilst also accounting for other global challenges such as food security.

I am interested in how the different UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are linked, and identifying where there are areas of policy coherence and potential trade-offs between the Goals. As part of this work, I have used evidence synthesis methods to review the available evidence for links between Sustainable Development Goals 14, Life below Water, and 15, Life on Land. This is crucial if the Sustainable Development Goals are to be achieved concurrently.

I am also the focal point of the Species Survival Commission’s Biodiversity Post-2020 Task Force. We aim to increase scientific input on species conservation into the review of progress on the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, and into what follows on from the current targets. To support this work, I am investigating the progress towards Aichi target 12 (“By 2020 the extinction of known threatened species has been prevented and their conservation status, particularly of those most in decline, has been improved and sustained.”), and what can be done to accelerate progress for species conservation post-2020. This includes investigating what the biggest drivers to biodiversity loss are.


I have supervised a range of BSc and MSc projects, and have taught part of the BIO2028 module on Biodiversity, Ecology and Conservation.


  • Bolam FC, Grainger MJ, Mengersen KL, Stewart GB, Sutherland WJ, Runge MC, McGowan PJK. Using the Value of Information to improve conservation decision making. Biological Reviews 2019, 94(2), 629-647.
  • Carrick J, Abdul Rahim MSAB, Adjei C, Ashraa Kalee HHH, Banks SJ, Bolam FC, Campos Luna IM, Clark B, Cowton J, Domingos IFN, Golicha DD, Gupta G, Grainger M, Hasanaliyeva G, Hodgson DJ, Lopez-Capel E, Magistrali AJ, Merrell IG, Oikeh I, Othman MS, Ranathunga Mudiyanselage TKR, Samuel CWC, Sufar EKH, Watson PA, Zakaria NNAB, Stewart G. Is planting trees the solution to reducing flood risks?. Journal of Flood Risk Management 2019, 12(S2), e12484.