Jeremy Dickens

Research themes
  • Sustainable use of natural resources
  • Biodiversity
Research countries
  • Brazil
  • Costa Rica
  • Peru
  • Bolivia
  • Colombia
  • Panama
  • Ecuador
Professional experience

Prior to joining ZEF in 2021 I consulted on the Global Aquatic Health Index project by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI). From 2019-21 I worked as a research associate for GroundTruth CC, South Africa, on river bioassessment methods and citizen science tools. From 2016-18 I was Museum Curator then Scientific Director at Para La Tierra, a conservation NGO in Paraguay, where I designed and implemented research projects (mostly biodiversity surveys), supervised intern projects, and managed the scientific collections, specimen collection and preparation. Between 2008-11 I undertook several environmental research internships (vac work), including for the AfroMaison Integrated Natural Resources Management case study in the Enkangala grasslands / Drakensberg, South Africa at IWMI and the Institute of Natural Resources (INR), the Wetland Buffers Project, Low-P Project and River Health Programme at the INR. As a field biologist, I conducted numerous bird ringing surveys in 2013-15 at the Hydroelectric Schemes at Jirau (ARCADIS Logos) and Tabajara (JGP) in Rondônia, Fazenda Fartura (MZUSP) in Mato Grosso/ Pará, Boracéia Biological Station in São Paulo, freshwater ecosystem health monitoring in the Okavango Delta, Botswana (INR), 2011, and Tenke Fungurume Copper mine, DRC (GroundTruth CC), 2010, and botanical surveys in Hluhluwe Game Reserve (UCT), 2009 among others. I have also worked extensively as a Portuguese-English translator and English text reviewer, and from 2011-12 volunteered extensively for WWOOF organic farms, eco-lodges, travel outlets, and as a bird/ tour guide in Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Venezuela, and Ecuador.


MSc in Systematics, Animal Taxonomy, and Biodiversity, Zoology Museum of the University of São Paulo (2013-15)

BSc (Honours) in Zoology, University of Cape Town (2010)

BSc in Biology, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Cape Town (2007-09)


Ornithology, Ecosystem Science (Forest Ecology), Bioassessment

Funding institutions

Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst/ German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)

Oppenheimer Memorial Trust (OMT)

Thesis title

Development of a Citizen Science-based Avian Index of Ecosystem Health in Tropical Forests

Thesis abstract

Tropical forest loss, fragmentation and degradation are major drivers of the loss of biodiversity, ecosystem services, local livelihoods, and climate change. However, sustainable forest use and management, conservation and restoration offer potential solutions and are thus goals of agreements on biodiversity and sustainable development, including the Sustainable Development Goals and Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework. However, the current indicators used to track forest state in these agreements lack information on the actual state of the biodiversity they contain or ecosystem function, particularly below the canopy, making it difficult to track progress towards their goals. Therefore, we aim to develop an avian index of ecological state for tropical moist lowland forests in South and Central America as a rapid ecological assessment tool for use by professionals and citizen scientists alike. We will determine species response scores to ecological stresses based on their traits and known trait-response relationships. We will then validate the index by application to paired bird and forest survey data from forest patches at varying degrees of degradation both throughout the region and in more detail in the southwest Amazon moist forests in Peru, Brazil and Bolivia. This will also enable us to determine the appropriate reference states and sampling protocols to apply the index. We will then apply the index to massively crowdsourced bird data, namely, to generate an interactive online map of continuously-updated forest state and stress levels at scale with an associated digital App for direct application. The resulting index and digital app would thus provide useful tools for monitoring of forest conditions by relevant stakeholders and local communities of tropical forest regions in South and Central America and would be suitable as an indicator of forest state for agreements on biodiversity and sustainable development with potentially far-reaching impacts towards halting/ reversing tropical forest loss and degradation.

Supervisors of
doctoral work

Prof. Dr. Christian Borgemeister (ZEF, Academic Profile)

Prof. Yadvinder Malhi (Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University, Academic Profile, personal website)

Dr. Alexander Lees (Manchester Metropolitan University, Academic Profile, personal website)

Advisor at ZEF

Dr. Jan Henning Sommer Academic Profile


Hicks, G, J.K. Dickens, C. Torres, E. Walker, S. D. Ríos, L. Doldan, I. Torre, A.J. Lesterhuis, H. Del Castillo, O. Rodríguez, and P. Smith.  2022.  The avifauna of the Paraguayan Department of Ñeembucú.  Boletin del Museo Nacional de Historia Natural del Paraguay , 26   : 1 - 54   . Further Information


Dickens, JK, Bitton, P, Bravo, G and Silveira, L.  2021.  Species limits, secondary contact and a new species in the Trogon rufus Gmelin, 1788 complex (Aves: Trogonidae).  Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2(193)   : 499 - 540   . Further Information


Davis, HP, Van Compernolle, M and Dickens, JK.  2020.  Evaluating the reliability of photographic identification methods for identifying individuals of a cryptically patterned toad.  Herpetological Conservation and Biology, 1(15)   : 204 - 211   . Further Information
Dickens, JK, Schoenberger D and Van Compernolle, M.  2020.  Guide to the Odonata of central Ñeembucú, Paraguay: indicator species of wetland habitats.  International Journal of Odonatology, 3(23)   : 1 - 52   . Further Information
Smith, P, Pett, B and Dickens, JK.  2020.  An aberrant form of Protambulyx eurycles (Herrich-Schäffer, 1854) (Lepidoptera: Sphingidae) from Paraguay.  The European Entomologist, 3(12)   : 117 - 120   .


Dickens, JK.  2019.  Annotated Checklist to the Fish of Laguna Blanca, San Pedro, Paraguay.  Aqua – International Journal of Ichthyology, 4(25)   : 155 - 178   . Further Information
Dickens, JK, McMahon, L and Binnie, S.  2019.  The butterflies of a Cerrado - Atlantic Forest ecotone at Laguna Blanca reveal underestimation of Paraguayan butterfly diversity and need for conservation.  Journal of Insect Conservation, 4(23)   : 707 - 728   . Further Information


Atkinson, K, Smith, P, Dickens, JK and Lee-Zuck, C.  2018.  Discovery of the ‘Lost’ Snake Phalotris multipunctatus (Serpentes: Dipsadidae) in Paraguay with Behavioral Notes, and Reference to the Importance of “Reserva Natural” Laguna Blanca for its Conservation.  Current Herpetology, 1(37)   : 75 - 80   . Further Information


Smith, RL, Hayes, SE, Smith, P and Dickens, JK.  2017.  Sleeping site preferences in Sapajus cay Illiger 1815 (Primates: Cebidae) in a disturbed fragment of the Upper Paraná Atlantic Forest, Rancho Laguna Blanca, Eastern Paraguay.  Primates, (59)   : 79 - 88   . Further Information


Dickens, JK, Costa TVV, Froz-Machaco, HD and Fontecuberta, E.  2015.  First nesting record of Band-winged Nightjar Systellura longirostris in Uruguay.  Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club, 3(135)   : 278 - 280   . Further Information


Dickens, JK.  2010.  How much is enough? Calibrating satellite telemetry for Southern Ground-Hornbills.  Further Information
Quayle, LM, Dickens, CWS, Graham, M, Simpson, D, Goliger, A, Dickens, JK, Freese, S and Blignaut, J.  2010.  Investigation of the positive and negative consequences associated with the introduction of zero-phosphate detergents into South Africa. WRC Report No. TT446-10.  Water Research Commission. Pretoria, South Africa. (Open Acess) Further Information


Macfarlane, DM., Dickens, JK and Von Hase, F.  2009.  Development of a methodology to determine the appropriate buffer zone width and type for developments associated with wetlands, watercourses and estuaries. Deliverable 1: Literature review. INR Report No 400/09.  Institute of Natural Resources. Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. Further Information


Dickens, CWS, Dickens, JK, Eriyagama, N, Xie, Hua, and Tickner, D.  Towards a Global River Health Assessment Framework. IWMI Research Report.  International Water Management Institute (IWMI). Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Hicks, G, Burrio, AV, Wang, J, O’Leary, F, Dickens, J, Pym-Davies, H, Brouard, JP, Ríos, SD, Ayala, JS, and Smith, P.  New and significant distributional records of Paraguayan reptiles and amphibians from Alto Paraguay, Misiones, Ñeembucú, Presidente Hayes and San Pedro Departments.  Revista Latinoamericana de Herpetologia, .

Additionals, Curriculum Vitae
and Downloads

Jeremy Dickens

Junior Researcher


Ecology and Natural Resources Management


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