Welcome Yali Si - new SE

Submitted by Michi on 20 February 2023.

The JAB Editorial Board is happy to welcome Yali Si as a new subjector editor!

Keywords: spatial ecology, biodiversity conservation, global environmental change, spatial epidemiology, geospatial analysis, movement ecology

Personal websitehttps://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/staffmembers/yali-si#tab-1

Twitter: @Yali_Si


1. What's your main research focus at the moment?

My main research focuses on understanding the environmental drivers of, and quantify the anthropogenic impacts on, species distribution, migration, diversity, and disease patterns. I use birds as a bio-indicator. I adopt multidisciplinary methodologies including remote sensing, biologging, geographic information system, spatial analysis, and mathematical modelling. The overarching goal of my research is to gain a deeper understanding of the impact of environmental change on biodiversity and develop scientific-based approaches to sustainably manage the environment, conserve biodiversity, and promote ecosystem health.

2. Can you describe your research career? Where, what, when?

I obtained my PhD in spatial ecology and global change in 2011 at the Faculty of Geo-information Science and Earth Observation (ITC), University of Twente and the Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Group at Wageningen University, The Netherlands. I investigated the environmental drivers of spatiotemporal waterbird movement and avian influenza outbreaks. After that, I started working at the Department of Earth System Science at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. I focussed on understanding the distribution and migration of waterfowl along the least studied Asian flyways, taking advantage of high-resolution environmental data and advances in geospatial technology, including GPS tracking. In 2019, I settled with my family in the Netherlands and in 2021 I started working as an Assistant Professor at the Department of Environmental Biology in the Institute of Environmental Sciences at Leiden University.

3. How come that you became a scientist with an interest in birds?

I spent tons of time during my childhood running through the fields, observing plants, collecting leaves, looking for insects, and listening to the sound of animals. In my teenage years, my favourite subjects were biology and geography. During my master education, I got an opportunity to work on a project mapping the foraging area of wintering geese in the Yangtze River floodplain - one of the biggest wintering areas for Asian waterbirds. From autumn onwards, after summer flooding, the area starts being covered by vast wet meadows and thousands of migratory birds gather in these unique and rich habitats. This dynamic floodplain system had been vividly captured by remote sensing imagery and offered the opportunity to accurately map the potential habitat. I was and still am amazed by how migratory birds finetune their life cycle to resource availability. I also wonder if and how they could cope with the rapid environmental change. Finding solutions that allow wildlife to survive anthropogenic threats eventually also protects human wellbeing.

4. What do you do when you're not working?

I love nature and enjoy being outdoors. In my spare time, l like hiking, or simply have a walk in the small pieces of forest and wetland in my neighbourhood. I’m particularly curious about the human mind, I like to read up and listen to podcasts on philosophy and psychology. Moreover, I love spending most of my spare time with my family, particularly the two witty, naughty, and lovely boys.