2023/24 undergraduate FYP topic release

Topic 1: Tracing Butterfly Diversity Loss in Suzhou Gardens: An Oral History Perspective on China’s Urban Landscape

Supervisor: Li Li, Yi Zou

Topic 2: Assessing the Carbon Footprint of Our Diet: A Life Cycle Analysis of XJTLU Canteen Meals

Supervisor: Xueqing He, Li Li

2023/24 MRes research project topic release

Topic 1: Integrating remote sensing and land use analysis to investigate shrub encroachment on the Tibetan Plateau

Topic 2: Mapping Place-Based Innovations: Identifying Triggers and Barriers for Sustainable Transformation in Agricultural Landscapes

Relating biodiversity with health disparities of human population: An ecological study across the United States

Chen Y, Zhao P, Xu QC, Qu BJ, Li D, Clement S, & Li L 2023: Relating biodiversity with health disparities of human population: An ecological study across the United States. One Health, 16, 100548.

Understanding biodiversity's contributions to human health is the first step toward fostering synergies between biodiversity conservation and health promotion - two major targets of UN's Sustainable Development Goals. The One Health approach acknowledges the health of people and biodiversity are interconnected and facing common threats. In this study, we aimed to unveil the geographical association between avian biodiversity and population health across the US. In this ecological study, we combined citizen science bird data from eBird, population health data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, and county-level statistics of population characteristics, including socio-economics, healthcare service etc. Multivariate linear regression analyses were performed between bird biodiversity (measured by rarefied species richness of birds), key indicators of general public health (e.g., cause-specific mortality rate), and socio-economic health determinants of 2751 US counties. We found that a higher number of bird species was significantly associated with longer life expectancy after confounding adjustment (regression coefficient (95% CIs), 0⋅005 (0⋅003, 0⋅008)). Bird species richness calculated using the rarefied method consistently accounted for variance in age-specific mortality risks in both very young and old age groups (R 2 from 2% to 4%). Rarefied species richness of birds was negatively correlated with the majority of cause-specific deaths (12 out of 21 mutually exclusive causes of death), indicating a general synergy effect between biodiversity and human health. The associations with the top causes of deaths were regarded as highly significant, with considerable effect sizes, for example, for cardiovascular diseases (regression coefficient (95% CIs), − 0⋅242 (− 0⋅311, − 0⋅174)). Our findings show human health is inseparable from the health of the shared environment and the well-being of all species. Bird species richness offers a valuable means to understand large-scale relationships between human health and the health of the environment. To enable equitable sharing of biodiversity's benefits to human health, more efforts should be made to understand two-way socio-ecological mechanism underlying human–biodiversity interactions.

Featured publications

  • Chen Y, Zhao P, Xu QC, Qu BJ, Li D, Clement S, & Li L 2023: Relating biodiversity with health disparities of human population: An ecological study across the United States. One Health, 16, 100548.
  • Li L, Tietze DT, Fritz A, Basile M, Lü Z, Storch I 2022: Beta diversities of grassland birds indicate the importance of pastoralism for nature conservation of the Qinghai¬-Tibetan Plateau. Frontiers in Conservation Science 3:902887. doi: 10.3389/fcosc.2022.902887
  • Li L, Fassnacht FE, Bürgi M, 2021: Using a landscape ecological perspective to analyze regime shifts in social–ecological systems: a case study on grassland degradation of the Tibetan Plateau. Landscape Ecology:1-17. doi: 10.1007/s10980-021-01191-0
  • Li L, Hu RC, Huang JK, Bürgi M, Zhu ZY, Zhong J, Lü Z, 2020: A farmland biodiversity strategy is needed for China. Nature Ecology & Evolution 4(6): 772-774. doi: 0.1038/s41559-020-1161-2
  • 李黎, 吕植, 2019: 土地多重效益与生物多样性保护补偿. 中国国土资源经济32(7). doi: 10.19696/j.cnki.1672-6995.0000306
  • Li L, Tietze DT, Fritz A, Lü Z, Bürgi M, Storch I, 2018: Rewilding cultural landscape potentially puts both avian diversity and endemism at risk: A Tibetan Plateau case study. Biological Conservation 224:75-86. doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2018.05.008
  • Fritz A, Li L, Storch I, Koch B, 2018: UAV‐derived habitat predictors contribute strongly to understanding avian species–habitat relationships on the Eastern Qinghai‐Tibetan Plateau. Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation 4(1):53-65. doi: 10.1002/rse2.73
  • Li L, Fassnacht FE, Storch I, Bürgi M, 2017: Land-use regime shift triggered the recent degradation of alpine pastures in Nyanpo Yutse of the eastern Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Landscape Ecology 32(11):2187-203. doi: 10.1007/s10980-017-0510-2

Oral Presentation at ICCB, Kigali Rwanda, July 23-27, 2023

Multifaceted biodiversity of grassland birds indicate the importance of pastoralism for nature conservation of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau

Li Li, Xiyuan Guan, Gang Song, Dieter Thomas Tietze

The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework advocates for sustainable transformation in food systems, and promoting agricultural multifunctionality is a feasible approach to reach the goal. The eastern Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (QTP) is one of the world's largest livestock grazing systems and a prominent Asian hotspot for endemic birds. The objective of our study was to explore the impact of livestock grazing intensities (LGI) on QTP bird assemblages at the local scale and their variation across the pastoral landscape (beta diversity). We conducted surveys on 126 bird sample plots in the study area of Nyanpo Yutse during two breeding seasons. In addition, we utilized unmanned aerial vehicles to measure 2D and 3D habitat features in a 150-meter radius. We identified the crucial habitat variables that drive the spatial distribution of taxonomic, functional, and phylogenetic diversities of birds, as well as the dissimilarities of species composition across the grassland landscape. Our results indicate no significant correlation between LGIs and taxonomic or phylogenetic diversity of birds. However, functional diversity was positively correlated (p < 0.01) with the proportion of grassland, while phylogenetic diversity positively correlated (p < 0.01) with the proportion of shrubland. At the landscape scale, pairwise LGI differences had no significant correlation (p > 0.05) with any pairwise beta diversity. The beta diversity of the 126 plots demonstrated high species turnover where LGI was lower than 1.065 sheep unit/ha. Our study demonstrates that extensive pastoralism is beneficial in preserving the mosaic landscape and conserving avian biodiversity on the eastern QTP. We revealed ecological mechanisms through which synergies can be realized to support both agricultural production and biodiversity conservation in the Tibetan grazing system.

More about SCB's 31st International Congress for Conservation Biology:



Symposium at International Association of Landscape Ecology: Nairobi July 10-14 2023

WechatIMG383.jpgSymposium: How do we incorporate vegetation, grazing and landscape heterogeneity to gain a better understanding of both grassland degradation and restoration processes

Organizer: Li Li, Johannes Knops


Grasslands support the livelihoods of over 1 billion people. Grasslands are frequently rich in biodiversity, are important for carbon storage and provide irreplaceable cultural values to local people. However, nearly 50% of the global grasslands are degraded due to overgrazing, soil erosion, pollution, shrub encroachment, biological invasions, etc. Furthermore, climate change is putting novel pressures on grassland ecosystems. Entering the UN "Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030", the importance and multi-functionality of grassland has gained worldwide recognition: Grassland restoration programs have been launched or are planned at the regional or national levels. However, ecological processes driving the degradation and successful restoration are diverse and need to be studied and understood within a landscape context, while considering its social and environmental heterogeneity. 


In this interdisciplinary symposium we examine multiple ecological and social–ecological processes underlying the degradation and restoration of grasslands. Landscape level topography, vegetation and grazing intensity causes local disturbance heterogeneity which inducing spatial degradation patterns. We need to examine degradation among these scales because processes differ in the scale at which they operate. We argue that grassland degradation can only be understood by explicitly examining these scale dependent processes and their interactions. In contrast to grassland degradation, current restoration efforts largely ignore spatial landscape heterogeneity.  We raise the question: can we ignore spatial landscape level heterogeneity in grassland restoration? Or how can we incorporate landscape level topography, vegetation, and grazing heterogeneity in creating successful restoration projects. Learning from a variety of landscape-level degradation and restoration studies we will synthesize our current knowledge of the importance of landscape heterogeneity.

6 entries