Isabel Jones

PhD Research Student (October 2013 – present)

Up a big tree in Cusuco National Park, Honduras

Cusuco National Park, Honduras

Contact: via @_Isabel_Jones

Visit University of Stirling page here 

Blogs on Sti-cs

Bringing the tropics to Scotland: BES-TEG 2015

The Conservation Conversation: nature documentaries and science

Brazilian research visas: a “how to?” get through the paperwork minefield and get into the field

Power to the plants: how they’re influencing conservation policy and industry in Uzbekistan


My main research interest lies in how plant communities respond to disturbance. Recently this has expanded to involve large-scale development projects and industry, and how we can work towards mitigating their negative impacts on biodiversity, which has led me to my current focus:

The effects of hydroelectric dams on tree communities and carbon storage in the Brazilian Amazon

As the human population grows, so does our need for energy. In developing countries, cheap and renewable sources of energy are favoured, and hydropower is a popular choice. But what happens when construction of hydroelectric dams results in the flooding of areas important for biodiversity and carbon storage, such as the Amazon basin?

My PhD will focus on the archipelago of forest islands within the Balbina hydroelectric reservoir in Brazil. Dam closure formed a 4437 km2 reservoir, flooding primary old growth forest and creating ~3500 islands from former hilltops. What happens to these remnant old growth tree communities over time? Do they degrade under the extreme edge effects they are exposed to? Is there some kind of reverse succession going on, where old growth forest is replaced by pioneers? Are certain tree species more likely to be lost or persist than others? What might the future tree communities be like? What does this mean for carbon storage and carbon emissions from hydroelectric dam systems in the Amazon, and elsewhere?

By answering questions such as these, we can begin to assess the true impact of hydroelectric dams on tropical tree communities and carbon storage. This will enhance conservation efforts, environmental impact assessments, and licensing for hydroelectric dam construction. Findings will also be relevant to the wider field of studying species and community responses to fragmentation.

Carbon dynamics of regenerating tropical forests

Worldwide we now have greater coverage of secondary tropical forests than primary old growth forests, thus secondary forests are becoming increasingly important for biodiversity conservation. I’m interested in the carbon dynamics of secondary forests and the value of them for long-term carbon storage. I work in the Barro Colorado Nature Monument (Panama) with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, within a number of permanent secondary forest plots of varying ages. Here, I’m trying to understand both above- and below-ground carbon dynamics, and how they relate to secondary forest age and tree community composition. The aim of this research is to highlight the value of secondary forests in terms of carbon storage, and work out at what point in forest regeneration carbon storage in secondary forests can approach that of old growth primary forests. Outputs from this research will assist with conservation planning involving secondary forests in terms of biodiversity conservation and carbon storage.

Supervisors: Dr. Daisy Dent (University of Stirling), Prof. Carlos Peres (University of East Anglia), Prof. Alistair Jump (University of Stirling)

Archipelago of forest islands within the Balbina hydroelectric reservoir, Brazil. Image: C. Peres

Archipelago of forest islands within the Balbina hydroelectric reservoir, Brazil. Image: Eduardo M. Venticinque via C. Peres



MRes. Ecology, Evolution & Conservation – Imperial College London (2011-2012)
BSc. (Hons.) Environmental Biology – Plymouth University (2005-2008)


Jones, I.L., Bunnefeld, N., Jump, A.S., Peres, C.A., Dent, D.H. (2016) Extinction debt on reservoir land-bridge islands. Biological Conservation, 199, 75-83 [Full text (accepted manuscript) available on Research Gate]

Jones, I.L.*, Bull, J.W.*, Milner-Gulland, E.J., Esipov, A.V. & Suttle, K.B. (2013) Quantifying habitat impacts of natural gas infrastructure to facilitate biodiversity offsetting. Ecology and Evolution, 4(1), 79-90

CABI, 2014. Ardisia crenata [original text by I.L. Jones]. Full datasheet, Invasive Species Compendium. Wallingford, UK.

CABI, 2013. Pimento dioica, Fragaria vesca, Chamaecrista nictitans [original text by I.L. Jones]. Full datasheets, Invasive Species Compendium. Wallingford, UK.

Jones, I.L., Pullinger, R., Green, S., Danehl, S., 2013. Invasive Alien Species: A review of species proposed for regulation under the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations. Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Richmond, UK.

Jones, I.L. & Zere, A., 2013. UNFCCC, REDD+, Kew: Climate change, conventions, and conservation. Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Richmond, UK.


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