Photo of a woman standing in front of a large body of water.

Osanna Chu

University of Birmingham


Predicting the loss of functional diversity across islands for plants and birds


  • Dr. Tom Matthews, University of Birmingham 
  • Dr. Laura Graham, University of Birmingham 
  • Dr. Adriane Esquivel Muelbert, University of Birmingham 
  • Prof. Jon Sadler, University of Birmingham 
  • Dr. Liam Trethowan, Kew Gardens 
  • Dr. Tom Martin, Operation Wallacea 
  • Dr. Arie Vatresia, Universitas Bengkulu 

PhD Summary

Islands are biodiversity hotspots, meaning they host a disproportionately large number of species in comparison to their area. In particular, the substantial biodiversity of Indonesian islands has yet to be thoroughly analysed. Analytical models will be produced using newly available plant and bird trait (physical characteristics, feeding habits etc.) data to predict how different species will respond to various climate/deforestation scenarios and what biodiversity might be lost. The interaction between plants, birds and human impacts could also be scaled up to see how patterns may apply to island archipelagos on a global scale, to potentially inform conservation policy and protect valuable island habitats.  

Previous activity

I completed a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences at Imperial College London with modules focusing on ecology. After this, I undertook an MRes in Ecology and Environment at the University of Sheffield investigating the effect of invasive species on island bird biodiversity, where I developed an interest in macroecology -finding broad scale patterns from large datasets.  

Why did you choose doctoral research?

I greatly enjoy the process of thinking creatively and drawing on interdisciplinary knowledge to explain my results, then disseminating my findings in an accessible way. My PhD will allow me to continue doing this while learning new skills, and I am hoping it will also provide me with the opportunity to make a meaningful and tangible contribution to my field.  

Why did you choose CENTA?

The variety of integrated training and support provided by CENTA DTP as well as its emphasis on collaborative (as opposed to competitive) academia appealed to me and gave me confidence that this is an environment I can happily pursue my research in. 

Future plans

Studying here will help me develop the skills needed to become a well-rounded researcher, along with forming a strong network through my activities with CENTA, the University of Birmingham and Kew Gardens. Through this, I hope to continue with a post-doctoral research position, and then perhaps an early-career fellowship, with the goal of pursuing a career in academia.