Research Associate
Global Biodiversity Monitoring
Living Planet Index
Google Scholar

Louise McRae's current role is centred on looking at global patterns of biodiversity over time.

Specifically, she works on a biodiversity indicator, the Living Planet Index (LPI), which is a measure of the changing state of global biological diversity, based on abundance trends of vertebrate species from around the world.

Through the development of the method and the increase in the data set behind the LPI over the past few years, Louise has been able to examine vertebrate trends for different regions of the world and for various subsets of species. Many of these results have been used to communicate biodiversity trends to a wide audience from policymakers, and scientists to the general public. For example, she leads ZSL’s contribution to the biennial Living Planet Report, WWF’s flagship publication on the state of the natural world.

Louise's research interests lie in improving the way we monitor biodiversity globally both in terms of the type of data collected and in the methods used for analysing the data and producing indicators for policy and communication.

Read more about the Living Planet Index (LPI)

Professional history
  • 2006–Present: Project Manager from 2013, preceded by a position as Postgraduate Research Assistant, Indicators and Assessments Unit, Institute of Zoology.
  • 2004–2005: MSc Conservation Biology, Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, University of Kent. Dissertation focused on conservation planning in the Maputaland region of Southern Africa.
  • 1996–1999: BSc Biological Sciences (Biology and Psychology), University of Wales, Swansea.

Proença V, Martin LJ, Pereira H, Fernandez M, McRae L, Belnap J, Böhm M, Brummitt N, García-Moreno J, Gregory R, Pradinho Honrado J, Jürgens N, Opige M, Schmeller D, Tiago P, & van Swaay, CAM. (2016) Global biodiversity monitoring: From data sources to Essential Biodiversity Variables. Biological Conservation.

Costelloe B, Collen B, Milner-Gulland EJ, Craigie ID, McRae L, Rondinini C, & Nicholson E. (2016) Global biodiversity indicators reflect the modeled impacts of protected area policy change.Conservation Letters 9(1), 14–20

McRae L, Freeman R, & Deinet S. (2014) 'The Living Planet Index' in:Living Planet Report 2014: species and spaces, people and places (eds. McLellan R, Iyengar L, Jeffries B & Oerlemans N). WWF, Gland, Switzerland.

Tierney M, Almond R, Stanwell-Smith D, McRae L, Zöckler C, Collen B, Walpole M, Hutton J, & de Bie S. (2014) Use it or lose it: measuring trends in wild species subject to substantial use. Oryx48, pp 420-429

Nicholson E, Collen B, Barausse A, Blanchard J, Burn B, Costelloe B, Fritz S, Jones J, McRae L, Possingham H, Sullivan K, Underwood F, & Milner-Gulland EJ. (2012) Making Robust Policy Decisions Using Global Biodiversity Indicators.PLoS ONE7(7): e41128

McRae L, Gill M, Bohm M, Deinet S, & Collen B. (2012) The Arctic Species Trend Index: using vertebrate population trends to monitor the health of this rapidly changing ecosystem. Biodiversity13: 144-156

Galewski T, Collen B, Loh J, McRae L, Grillas P, & Devictor V. (2011) Long term trends in the abundance of Mediterranean wetland vertebrates: from global recovery to localized declines. Biological Conservation144: 1392-1399

Collen B, McRae L, Deinet S, De Palma A, Carranza T, Loh J, Cooper N, & Baillie JEM. (2011) Predicting how populations decline to extinction. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B366: 2577-2586

Pereira HM, Proença V,  Belnapp J, Brummitt N, Collen B, Ding H, Gonzalez M, Gregory RD, Honrado J, Jongman R, Julliard R, McRae L, Rodrigues P, Opige M, Rodriguez JP, Schmeller D, van Swaay C, & Vieira C. (2010) Global biodiversity monitoring. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment8(9): 459-600

Butchart SHM, Walpole M, Collen B, van Strien A, Scharleman JPW, Almond REA, Baillie JEM, Bomhard B, Brown C, Bruno J, Carpenter KE, Carr GM, Chanson J, Chenery A, Csirke J, Davidson NC, Dentener F, Foster M, Galli A, Galloway JN, Genovesi P, Gregory R, Hockings M, Kapos V, Lamarque J-F, Leverington F, Loh J, McGeoch MA, McRae L, Minasyan A, Hernández Morcillo M, Oldfield T, Pauly D, Quader S, Revenga C, Sauer J, Skolnik B, Spear D, Stanwell-Smith D, Stuart SN, Symes A, Tierney M, Tyrrell TR, Vié J-C, & Watson R. (2010) Global biodiversity, indicators of recent declines. Science328:1164-1168

Collen B., Loh J., Whitmee S., McRae L., Amin R. & Baillie J.E.M. (2009) Monitoring change in vertebrate abundance: the Living Planet Index. Conservation Biology 23: 317-327.

McRae L, Loh J, Bubb PJ, Baillie JEM, Kapos V, Collen B (2009) The Living Planet Index - Guidance for National and Regional Use. UNEP-WCMC, Cambridge, UK

Latham J, Collen B, McRae L, Loh J. (2008) The Living Planet Index for Migratory Species: an index of change in population abundance. A report for the Convention on Migratory Species, UNEP.

Collen, B., Ram, M., Zamin, T., and McRae, L. (2008) The tropical biodiversity data gap: addressing disparity in global monitoring. Tropical Conservation Science 1(2): 97-110. Download PDF

Loh, J., Collen, B., McRae, L., Holbrook, S., Amin, R., Ram, M., and Baillie, J. (2006) Living Planet Index. Living Planet Report (ed. By J. Loh & S. Goldfinger), WWF, Gland, Switzerland.