Gino Brignoli

Gino Brignoli

Profile Display Name:

Gino Brignoli

E-mail Address:

Start Year

2018 (Cohort 5)

Research interests:
Hobbies and interests:

PhD Project
PhD Title

Assessing how changes in avian trait diversity and composition alter ecosystem function in human-impacted Afromontane sky islands

Research Theme

Biodiversity and Ecology

Primary Supervisor
Primary Institution


Secondary Supervisor
Secondary Institution


Additional supervisor(s)

Alex Pigot (UCL),
Chris Carbone (IOZ),


Birds are an important component in maintaining ecosystem function across a variety of landscapes – fulfilling the vital functions of herbivore predation, seed dispersal, and pollination, among others. While some species have evolved specialised morphological adaptions to occupy restricted niches, others have evolved as generalists, and birds across this trait-space perform various ecosystem functions. However, what remains unclear is how to quantify the direct effects these assemblages of bird functional traits have on ecosystem function. This project aims to address this knowledge gap by exploiting the natural laboratories of East Africa’s “sky islands”, in order to provide empirical evidence for the ecosystem functions that birds perform. Combining surveys, field experiments and molecular data this research will advance the field beyond the now increasingly standard morphology- based assessments to address the links between habitat disturbance, functional structure and ecosystem function.

Anthropogenic pressures have direct effects on habitats and species as evidenced by the current high rate of species extinctions across all taxa. Understanding the ecosystem- level effects of these extinctions – how they will impact trait diversity and composition and further alter ecosystem function – should be a research priority that could ultimately influence targeted conservation efforts and government policy.

Policy Impact
Background Reading

Prof. Luc Lens (Ghent University) website:
Dr. Beate Apfelbeck (University of Salzburg) website:

Grants and awards
  • Heredity Field Grant – Genetics Society
  • Society for Tropical Ecology Student Grant – Society for Tropical Ecology
  • Daisy Balogh Fund – Daisy Balogh Fund


Training courses
  • FAA Level 3 Award in Outdoor First Aid, hosted by IoZ. June 2019
  • Professional behaviour and research integrity, hosted by UCL. June 2019
  • Conducting Research Abroad, hosted by UCL. April 2019
  • Arena One Gateway Workshop, hosted by UCL. April 2019
  • Introduction to Survival/Time-to-Event Data Analysis, hosted by CASC (UCL). May 2020
  • Introduction to Meta-Analysis, hosted by CASC (UCL). June 2020
  • Introduction to Bayesian Analysis, hosted by CASC (UCL). July 2020
  • Public Engagement Skills: Find Your Voice, hosted by UCL. November 2019

Social Links
University Departmental Website:

Personal Website:




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