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Dr Cecilia Dahlsjö

Ecologist focusing on bottom-up approaches to ecosystem functioning.

Bugs are not going to inherit the earth. They own it now. - Thomas Eisner

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About me

I am an ecologist focusing on invertebrate mediated ecosystem functioning and multi-trophic impacts of habitat change.

I am an ecologist who focuses on invertebrate mediated ecosystem functioning and multi-trophic impacts of habitat change. I hold a BSc in Zoology from Royal Holloway, University of London, and a D.Phil in tropical ecology with a focus on the role of termites in ecosystem functioning from the University of Oxford.
I have held a number of post-doc positions since graduating from Oxofrd in 2015 (see CV). Currently, I am a NERC funded postdoctoral researcher managing the Multi-Trophic Impact of Ash-Dieback project in the School of Geography and the Environment at the University of Oxford. Additionally, I am subject editor for Biotropica and have reviewed manuscripts for a range of journals including Current Opinion in Insect Science, Insect Conservation and Diversity, Biotropica and many more.
I enjoy fieldwork and have spent a lot of time developing and managing field campaigns in a range of terrestrial ecosystems, from forests to agro-habitats, in South America, Africa and Europe. My work has delivered novel research (see Publications) on the ecological importance of invertebrates and in 12 years they have never ceased to amaze me.

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The multi-trophic impact of ash-dieback


It is increasingly recognised that multi-trophic studies are needed for better understanding of how ecosystem dynamics respond to agents of global change, yet such studies are rare, with most focusing on specific taxa and one-way ecological interactions. One of the major contemporary agents of global change in ecosystems is the spread of pathogens and pests, with consequences for biodiversity, ecosystem functioning and the biosphere carbon balance. In many European forests, the most acute current concern is probably the spread of the fungal pathogen Hymenoscyphus fraxineus across the geographical range of the European ash (Fraxinus excelsior), resulting in up to 90% tree mortality (“ash dieback”). Little is known about how the consequences of such a mass tree mortality event cascade through multiple trophic levels of woodland ecosystems. Here we propose a uniquely detailed study on the effects of ash dieback on the multi-trophic ecosystem ecology of woodlands. We propose to track the shifting ecosystem ecology under natural progression of the mortality event and also conduct manipulations of “accelerated ash dieback” to gain insights into longer-term dynamic responses, using ring-barking. This ambitious project will result in a novel multi-trophic understanding of the impacts of pathogen-induced mass tree mortality, providing better understanding of processes that are applicable to managing and mitigating the ecological consequences of tree dieback events more generally.


Biotropica- Special Issue

The future of tropical invertebrate research

Illustration- @cecilegirardin

There are over one million described invertebrate species on Earth, the majority of which are likely to inhabit the highly biodiverse rain forests around the equator. These are some of the most vulnerable ecosystems on Earth due to the pressures of deforestation and climate change with many of their inhabitants at risk of extinction. Invertebrates play a major role in ecosystem functioning from decomposition and nutrient cycling to herbivory and pollination; however, while our understanding of these roles is improving, we are far from being able to predict the consequences of further deforestation, climate change, and biodiversity loss due to the lack of comparative data and the high proportion of species which remain to be discovered. As we move into an era of increased pressure on old growth habitats and biodiversity it is imperative that we understand how changes to invertebrate communities, and the extinction of species, affect ecosystems. Innovative and comprehensive methods that approach these issues are needed. In this Special Issue we highlight priorities for future tropical terrestrial invertebrate research such as the efficiency of sustainable land management, exploration of innovative methods for better understanding of invertebrate ecology and behaviour, and quantifying the role of invertebrates in ecosystem functioning.


- Invertebrates and the complexity of tropical ecosystems
Roger L. Kitching, Cecilia A. L. Dahlsjö and Paul Eggleton



- Linking dung beetle-mediated functions to interactions in the Atlantic Forest: Sampling design matters
Elizabeth H. Raine, Sandra B. Mikich, Owen T. Lewis and Eleanor M. Slade


- Drought and presence of ants can influence hemiptera in tropical leaf litter
Anna E. Goldman, Timothy C. Bonebrake, Toby P. N. Tsang, Theodore A. Evans, Luke Gibson, Paul Eggleton,
Hannah M. Griffiths, Catherine L. Parr and Louise A. Ashton

- Recovery of decomposition rates and decomposer invertebrates during rain forest restoration on disused
Marisa J. Stone, Luke Shoo, Nigel E. Stork, Fran Sheldon and Carla P. Catterall

- The local impact of macrofauna and land-use intensity on soil nutrient concentration and exchangeability in
lowland tropical Peru
Cecilia A. L. Dahlsjö, Petr Stiblik, Jana Jaklová, Matěj Zídek, Juan Wicman Huaycama, Bohdan Lojka and
Jakub Houška

- El Niño impacts on human-modified tropical forests: Consequences for dung beetle diversity and associated
ecological processes
Filipe M. França, Joice Ferreira, Fernando Z. Vaz-de-Mello, Laís F. Maia, Erika Berenguer, Alessandro Ferraz Palmeira,
Rodrigo Fadini, Júlio Louzada, Rodrigo Braga, Victor Hugo Oliveira and Jos Barlow

- Insect herbivory and herbivores of Ficus species along a rain forest elevational gradient in Papua New
Katerina Sam, Bonny Koane, Legi Sam, Anna Mrazova, Simon Segar, Martin Volf, Martin Moos, Petr Simek,
Mentap Sisol and Vojtech Novotny



- Experiments with artificial nests provide evidence for ant community stratification and nest site limitation
in a tropical forest
Ondřej Mottl, Jacob Yombai, Tom M. Fayle, Vojtěch Novotný and Petr Klimeš

- Moth assemblages in Costa Rica rain forest mirror small-scale topographic heterogeneity
Dominik Rabl, Brigitte Gottsberger, Gunnar Brehm, Florian Hofhansl and Konrad Fiedler

- Occurrence of blood-feeding terrestrial leeches (Haemadipsidae) in a degraded forest ecosystem and their
potential as ecological indicators
Rosie Drinkwater, Joseph Williamson, Tom Swinfield, Nicolas J. Deere, Matthew J. Struebig, Elizabeth L. Clare,
David Coomes and Stephen J. Rossiter

- Elevational filtering and the evolution of planthoppers (Hemiptera, Fulgoromorpha) in Papua New Guinea
Paul Chatelain, Maxime Le Cesne, Marianne Elias, Eric Guilbert and Adeline Soulier-Perkins

- Contrasting patterns of fig wasp communities along Mt. Wilhelm, Papua New Guinea
Daniel Souto-Vilarós, Mickal Houadria, Jan Michalek, Mentap Sisol, Brus Isua, Thomas Kuyaiva,
George D. Weiblen, Vojtech Novotny and Simon T. Segar

- Bird’s nest ferns promote resource sharing by centipedes
Josie W. Phillips, Arthur Y. C. Chung, Gregory D. Edgecombe and M. D. Farnon Ellwood



- Termite mounds house a diversity of taxa in oil palm plantations irrespective of understory management
Amelia S. C. Hood, Michael D. Pashkevich, Cecilia A. L. Dahlsjö, Andreas D. Advento, Anak Agung Ketut Aryawan,
Jean-Pierre Caliman, Mohammad Naim, Jason J. Head and Edgar C. Turner


- Unexpectedly diverse forest dung beetle communities in degraded rain forest landscapes in Madagascar
Kaisa Anneli Torppa, Helena Wirta and Ilkka Hanski

- Complexity within an oil palm monoculture: The effects of habitat variability and rainfall on adult dragonfly
(Odonata) communities
Sarah H. Luke, Andreas Dwi Advento, Rory A. Dow, Anak Agung Ketut Aryawan, Holly Barclay, Amy E. Eycott,
Julie K. Hinsch, Candra Kurniawan, Mohammad Naim, Darren J. Mann, P. Pujianto, Dedi Purnomo,
Tuani Dzulfikar Siguga Rambe, Eleanor M. Slade, S. Soeprapto, Sudharto Ps, S. Suhardi, Ribka Sionita Tarigan,
Resti Wahyuningsih, Rudy Harto Widodo, Jean-Pierre Caliman, Jake L. Snaddon, William A. Foster and
Edgar C. Turner

- Assessing the effectiveness of protected areas for conserving range-restricted rain forest butterflies in
Sabah, Borneo
Sarah A. Scriven, Sara H. Williams, Mazidi A. Ghani, Agnes L. Agama, Suzan Benedick, Jedediah F. Brodie,
Keith C. Hamer, Colin J. McClean, Glen Reynolds and Jane K. Hill



- Tropical terrestrial invertebrates—Where to from here?
Cecilia A. L. Dahlsjö, Paul Eggleton and Roger Kitching


The role of termites in ecosystem functioning

Termites are one of the key ecosystem engineers in tropical forests where they play a major role in decomposition
rates, both above and below-ground. I have studied termites with since 2010 (see publications) and continue to do so when I get the opportunity. 


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  • Special Issue: Dahlsjö, C. A. L., Kitching, T. (2020) Special Issue of the future of invertebrate research in tropical ecosystems. Biotropica.

  • Kitching, R., Dahlsjö, C. A. L., Eggleton, P. (2020) Invertebrates and the complexity of tropical ecosystems. Biotropica.

  • Dahlsjö, C. A. L., Eggleton, P., Kitching, R. (2020) Tropical Terrestrial Invertebrates – Where to From Here? Biotropica.

  • Dahlsjö, C. A. L., Valladares, C., Ivan, J-C. (2020) Termite diversity in Ecuador: a comparison of two primary forest national parks. Journal of Insect Science.

  • Amelia SC Hood, Michael D Pashkevich, Cecilia AL Dahlsjö, Andreas D Advento, A Agung K Aryawan, Jean-Pierre Caliman, Mohd Naim, Jason J Head, Edgar C Turner. (2020) Termite Mounds House a Diversity of Taxa in Oil Palm Plantations Irrespective of Understory Management. Biotropica.


  • Boyi Liang, Cecilia A. L. Dahlsjö, Victoria Maguire-Rajpaul, Yadvinder Malhi, Suhong Liu (2019) Modelling error evaluation of ground observed vegetation parameters. IEEE Transactions on Instrumentation and Measurements.

  • Dahlsjö, C. A. L., Jaklová, J., Stíblik, P., Zídek, M., Wicman, W., Lojka, B., Houška, J., Šobotník, J (2019) The local impact of macrofauna and land-use intensity on soil nutrient concentration and exchangeability in lowland tropical Peru. Biotropica.

  • Dahlsjö, C. A. L., Butt, N., Malhi, Y. (2019) RE "Termites mitigate the effects of drought in tropical rainforest". Science E-letter


  • Rifai, S. W., Girardin, C. A. J., Berenguer, E., Aguila-Pasquel, J., Dahlsjö, C.A.L., et al. (2018) ENSO drives interannual variation of forest woody growth across the tropics. Philosophical Transactions B.

  • Bourguigon, T., Dahlsjö, C. A. L., Salim, K. A., Evans, T. A. (2018) Termite diversity and species composition in heath forests, mixed dipterocarp forests and pristine and selectively logged tropical peat swamp forests in Brunei, Insectes Sociaux.


  • Šobotnik, J. and Dahlsjö, C. A. L. (2017) Isoptera. In Encyclopaedia of Biodiversity (Third Edition), ed. Simon A. Levin, Academic Press.

  • Palma-Onetto, V., Hošková, K., Křížková, B., Dahlsjö, C. A. L., Krejčířová, R., Pflegerová, J., Bubeníčková, F., Sillam-Dussès, D., Bourguignon T., and Šobotník, J. (2017) First comprehensive description of the labral gland in termite soldiers. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society.

  • Bourguignon, T., Dahlsjö, C. A. L., Jacquemin, J., Gang, L., Wijedasa, L. S., Evans, T. A. (2017) Ant and termite communities in isolated and continuous forest fragments in Singapore, Insectes Sociaux.

  • Wen, X-L., Ping, W., Dahlsjö, C. A. L., Sillam-Dussès, D., Šobotník, J. (2017) Breaking the cipher: Ant eavesdropping on the variational trail pheromone of its termite prey, Proceedings of the Royal Society B Biological Sciences, DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2017.0121.


  • Dahlsjö, C.A.L. (2016) Head width- body mass equation: facilitating worker termite biomass estimates, Ecological Entomology, DOI: 10.1111/een.12349.

  • Bourguignon, T., Šobotník, J., Dahlsjö, C.A.L., Roisin, Y. (2016) The soldierless Apicotermitinae: insights into a poorly known and ecologically dominant tropical taxon, Insectes Sociaux, 63: 39-50.


  • Moorhouse, T.P., Dahlsjö, C.A.L., Baker, S.E., D'Cruze, N.C., Macdonald, D.W. (2015) The customer isn't always right— conservation and animal welfare implications of the increasing demand for wildlife tourism, PLoS One, 10: e0138939.

  • Dahlsjö, C.A.L., Parr, C.L., Malhi, Y., Meir, P., Rahman, H., Eggleton, P. (2015) Density-body mass relationships: inconsistent intercontinental patterns among termite feeding groups. Acta Oecologica, 63: 16-21.


  • Dahlsjö, C.A.L., Parr, C.L., Malhi, Y., Rahman, H., Meir, P., Jones, D.T., Eggleton, P. (2014) First comparison of quantitative estimates of termite biomass and abundance reveals strong intercontinental differences. Journal of Tropical Ecology, 30: 143-152.

  • Dahlsjö, C.A.L., Parr, C.L., Malhi, Y., Meir, P., Chevarria, O.V.C., Eggleton, P. (2014) Termites promote soil carbon and nitrogen depletion: Results from an in situ macrofauna exclusion experiment, Peru. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 77: 109-111.

  • Dahlsjö, C.A.L., Parr, C.L., Malhi, Meir, P., Eggleton, P. (2014) Describing termite assemblage structure in a Peruvian lowland tropical rain forest: a comparison of two alternative methods. Insectes Sociaux, 62: 141-150.

Curriculum Vitae

I am an ecologist who is passionate about the natural world with proven leadership and communication skills as a project manager. I have led multiple field teams of varying abilities and cultures, delivering successful research on the ecological importance of invertebrates in a range of ecosystems, from forests to agro-habitats, in South America, Africa and Europe. I am a collaborative and engaged researcher, and currently subject editor for Biotropica and reviewer for Heliyon, Current Opinion in Insect Science, Insect Conservation and Diversity, Insectes Sociaux, Biotropica, Archives of Agronomy and Soil Science, Basic and Applied Ecology, Journal of Insect Behaviour, Sociobiology and Zootaxa. I am a strategic thinker with exceptional interpersonal and communication skills, and my experience spans working with local communities, university students and staff, and the commercial sector. I am an organised, self-motivated individual with the determination and enthusiasm to enjoy a challenging work schedule.

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2010 - 2014: D.Phil, University of Oxford, UK

2007 - 2010: BSc, Zoology, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK

2004 - 2007: A-levels, Malmö Borgarskola, Sweden


Employment and honorary positions

2020 - present: University of Oxford, School of Geography and the Environment, ECI, postdoctoral researcher, funded by NERC to examine the multi-trophic impact of ash dieback.

2018- present: Biotropica, subject editor

2018 - 2020: University of Oxford, School of Geography and the Environment, ECI, postdoctoral researcher, funded by John Fell Fund and Scottish Forestry Trust to examine gather baseline data of invertebrates to understand the effects of ash dieback.

2017 - 2018: University of Oxford, School of Geography, ECI, and the Environment, postdoctoral researcher, managing and curating pan-tropical data from the Global Ecosystem Monitoring (GEM) network.

2015 -2017: Czech University of Life Sciences, postdoctoral researcher, project manager for project looking at the importance of macrofauna invertebrates in soil along a land-use gradient in Peru.

2014: University of Oxford, Department of Zoology, WildCRU, research assistant, conducted a review into the impact of tourism on animal welfare and conservation.

2010: Natural History Museum, London, Soil Biodiversity Group, curated and managed a digital termite key using Scratchpad (


Teaching and supervision

2020: University of Oxford, co-supervisor of MSc student.

2019: University of Oxford, supervision of work placement student from the Europa School.

2019: University of Oxford, supervision of work placement student from University of Exeter.

2018: University of Oxford, Environmental Change and Management (ECM) and Biodiversity, Conservation and Management (BCM) demonstration of Wytham ash dieback project and sampling methods.

2018: University of Oxford, ECM discussion lecture.

2018: University of Oxford, NERC Doctoral Training Partnership demonstration.

2016: Czech University of Life Sciences, co-supervisor of a Master’s thesis.

2016: Czech University of Life Sciences, co-supervisor of a BSc thesis from the Universidad Tecnica de Particular de Loja, Ecuador.

2015: Czech University of Life Sciences, co-supervisor of 5 BSc theses from the Universidad Nacional de Ucayali, Peru.


Awards and grants

2020: NERC standard grant (research co-I) (£800,000)

2018: Scottish Forestry Trust (£20,000)

2018: University of Oxford, John Fell Fund (£45,000)

2018: University of Oxford, ECI (£750)

2016: Czech University of Life Sciences, GACER (£320,000)

2015: Czech University of Life Sciences, GACER (£18,300)

2014: University of Oxford, ECI (£500)

2014: Royal Entomological Society (£300)

2014: British Ecological Society (£800)

2012: Santander (£1000)

2011: Santander (£1000)

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S Parks Rd, Oxford OX1 3QY, UK

01865 285070

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