School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Staff Profile

Dr Rike Bolam

Research Associate

Background

I am a post-doctoral 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 - see my github profile. l have also made contributions to improving programming skills amongst researchers: I have taught R programming skills to students from undergraduate to PhD level, and I am also a co-organiser of the Newcastle chapter of R-Ladies.


Academic Background

My PhD thesis was focused on the Value of Information for conservation decision-making, a method to assess when to collect more data to identify optimal management actions, and when to take action, as further data would not lead to a change in the optimal management strategy. I undertook a systematic review of the Value of Information in ecology and conservation, published in Biological Reviews. I also developed strong data manipulation and visualisation as well as modelling skills through my PhD. For example, I merged large datasets of plant extinction risk with plant trait data and occurrence records, then classified extinction risk of plants globally  and for an area of Brazil using Bayesian Networks and Random Forest models. This work was done in collaboration with Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.


Education

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


Field skills

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.


I am on Twitter: @RikeBolam

Research

I am a conservation scientist interested in how we can protect biodiversity whilst balancing this with the needs of people. My work relates to global biodiversity policy, with a focus on the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)'s Aichi Targets and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.


CBD's Aichi Targets and the Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework

I coordinate the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s Biodiversity Post-2020 Targets Task Force that works to assess progress towards the Aichi Targets and how we can ensure species conservation in future CBD targets. We contribute to IUCN position papers and write policy documents for different CBD meetings, to provide scientific input into current negotiations.

As part of this work, I currently investigate which threats to species are addressed through different policy targets, to identify gaps but also investigate which targets of these targets are not on track to being met. Previous to this project I led on a paper to estimate  which bird and mammal species have been prevented from going extinct globally through conservation action, using a Delphi expert elicitation protocol - see the preprint.


Sustainable Development

I have a strong interest in how we can ensure that biodiversity is conserved, whilst accounting for other societal challenges such as food security. I have investigated trade-offs between Sustainable Development Goals with a focus on biodiversity using systematic map methodologies. During a short-term research project I investigated the trade-offs between healthy, sustainable and affordable diets in a UK context. As land use change is a key driver of biodiversity loss, I am keen to develop my research in this area, as I believe this is critical for addressing the myriad of challenges we face.


Evidence Synthesis

Throughout my PhD and post-doc I have led and been involved with a range of projects using evidence synthesis methods such as systematic reviews and meta-analysis. I have worked with collaborators at Newcastle University and the Norsk Institutt for Naturforskning (NINA) at Trondheim, Norway, on a paper published in Nature Ecology and Evolution on reducing research waste. I have taught meta-analysis to PhD students during a 2-day course, the results of which are published in the Journal of Flood Risk Management

Teaching

Conservation and Ecology

I have supervised four BSc and three MSc projects, and have taught on the BIO2028 module on Biodiversity, Ecology and Conservation.


R teaching

I have taught R skills to students from BSc to PhD level, and as part of the Newcastle R-ladies meetup. Courses included:

  • Introduction to R
  • Data Visualisation
  • Data Manipulation with the tidyverse

See examples of courses on my github page.


Publications