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Dr Abbie Chapman
UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources
Central House
14 Upper Woburn Place
Dr Abbie Chapman profile picture
  • Research Fellow in Sustainable Food Systems
  • Bartlett School Env, Energy & Resources
  • Faculty of the Built Environment

Abbie specialised in using traits to study the biodiversity and biogeography of deep-sea hydrothermal-vent fauna for her PhD.  For her thesis, she: wrote a paper published as the Editor's Choice article in Diversity and Distributions (https://doi.org/10.1111/ddi.12712); co-led an iDiv-funded working group (https://www.idiv.de/sdiv/working_groups/wg_pool/sfdvent.html) and an international team of experts to build a global trait database for vent species (https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.12975); and investigated the functional and taxonomic uniqueness of vent regions.  

Before her PhD, Abbie worked as a Trainee Oil Spill Modelling Consultant for Oil Spill Response Limited, conducting oil spill modelling using SINTEF's Oil Spill Contingency and Response software (OSCAR) and ArcGIS to better prepare oil companies for worst-case scenario spills.

Abbie has a PhD in Deep-sea Ecology, an MSc in Oceanography, and a BSc (Hons) Physical Geography with Physical Oceanography degree from the University of Southampton.  She began to work on the Sentinel project as a Research Assistant whilst completing her PhD.

Research Themes
Research Summary

Abbie is a Research Fellow in Sustainable Food Systems working with Dr Carole Dalin on the international, interdisciplinary ‘Sustainable & Healthy Food Systems’ (SHEFS) project (https://shefsglobal.lshtm.ac.uk/). SHEFS is producing new research for policymakers to use to shape food systems in the UK, India, and South Africa. The overarching goal is to provide healthy, accessible, affordable, and sustainable food for future populations.  Abbie’s research for the SHEFS project involves mapping and modelling the relationships between food crops, the land and water used to produce them, and the potential impacts of these on biodiversity and water resources. The aim of this work is to identify the most sustainable future pathways for food systems when accounting for trade-offs and synergies between land, water, food, biodiversity, and human health and nutrition.

Previously, Abbie was a Postdoctoral Research Associate on the ‘Social and Environmental Trade-offs in African Agriculture’ (Sentinel - https://www.sentinel-gcrf.org/) project. This interdisciplinary project is investigating how Ethiopia, Ghana, and Zambia can work towards Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 of ‘zero hunger’ through agricultural expansion, whilst reducing inequalities and conserving ecosystems (SDGs 10 and 15).  At UCL’s Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research, Abbie conducted spatial and statistical analyses to assess the impacts of agricultural land use on terrestrial biodiversity in Ethiopia, Ghana, and Zambia. 

Alongside her work on the SHEFS and Sentinel projects, Abbie has continued to support projects aiming to increase the accessibility and use of large-scale biodiversity data in understudied ecosystems, such as deep-sea hydrothermal vents, which she studied for her PhD.

Research interests:

  • Biodiversity conservation and human impacts on biodiversity
  • Environmental (land and sea) influences on biodiversity (including climate change)
  • Interdisciplinary approaches for identifying sustainable futures for biodiversity and people
  • Disturbance ecology
  • Multivariate and spatial analyses using R and ArcGIS
  • Macroecology and biogeography
  • Trait- and taxonomy-based metrics of rarity and uniqueness

Teaching Summary

Abbie has been a paid postgraduate demonstrator on undergraduate and postgraduate courses, leading discussion sessions and GIS tutorials, as well as mentoring students.  She delivered a remote lecture to students on a ‘Deep-sea Ecology’ course at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada, and has given talks to colleagues and members of the public via seminars and webinars.

Abbie also co-supervised MRes students with Dr Tim Newbold:

  • Tasmin Alexander, 2020: Investigating the impact of large-scale land acquisitions on biodiversity in Africa.
  • James Johnston, 2019: Spatial analysis of overlap of cocoa plantations with areas of high biodiversity.
  • Georgie Hislop, 2019: Social and environmental trade-offs in Ethiopian agriculture.
  • Philippa Oppenheimer, 2019: Comparing land-use and climate-change impacts on biodiversity across terrestrial biomes.
  • Cody Danaher, 2019 (research project forming part of MSc in Integrated Water Resource Management at McGill University, Canada): Using remote sensing to prioritise freshwater biodiversity conservation areas in three countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

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