Iain McNicol

Iain’s current research examines how Tanzania’s Wildlife Management Areas affect the ability of local communities to respond to environmental shocks.

Photo credit: Iain McNichol


e-mail: i.mcnicol@ed.ac.uk | i.m.mcnicol7@gmail.com
Skype: iain_mcnicol

Research interests

I am currently employed as a Post-Doctoral Research within the Conservation Science group at the University of Edinburgh. My research interests are in tropical land use change and ecosystem ecology, with a particular focus on African woodlands. I use a variety of methods and techniques in my work including field based studies of plants and soils, household surveys, through to data acquired from satellites. My previous research projects have involved (i) the measurement, mapping and monitoring of biomass and biodiversity at multiple spatial scales (McNicol et al. 2015b; McNicol, Ryan and Mitchard, in review, McNicol et al. in review), (ii) quantifying rates and patterns of deforestation and forest degradation (McNicol, Ryan and Mitchard, in review), and (iii) how ecosystems respond to human disturbance (McNicol et al. 2015a).

Current project

I am a Post-doctoral Research Associate on the project Coping with El Niño in Tanzania: Differentiated local impacts and household-level responses.

Prior to joining the conservation science group, I was involved in a project that aimed to quantify the extent to which protected areas preserve woody carbon stocks via ‘avoided’ deforestation and degradation (McNicol, Keane, Ryan, in prep). The work is still in progress and is funded by the Luc Hoffman Institute with support from UNEP-WCMC. In my current role, I go beyond measuring the ecological impacts of conservation initiatives by examining how Wildlife Management Areas – a specific form of community-based natural resource management – affects the ability of local communities to respond to major shocks, including the recent El Niño event. We are investigating these interactions using survey data collected from more than 1,200 households across Tanzania, comparing impact of WMAs in the differing environments of the north and the south and in areas with and without WMAs.


McNicol, I.M., Ryan, C.M. and Mitchard, E.T.A. (in review). Carbon losses from deforestation & widespread degradation offset by extensive growth in African woodlands. In review at Nature Communications

McNicol, I.M., Ryan, C.M, Dexter, K.G, Ball, S.M.J and Williams, M (in review). Aboveground carbon storage and its links to forest structure, tree species diversity and floristic composition in south-eastern Tanzania. In review at Ecosystems

Ryan, C.M., Pritchard, R., McNicol, I.M., Owen, M., Fisher, J.A., and Lehmann, C. (2016). Ecosystem services from southern African woodlands and their future under global change. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B

McNicol, I.M, Berry, N.J, Bech-Bruun, T., Neergaard, A., Mertz, O. and Ryan, C.M. (2015b). Development of allometric models to estimate above- and below-ground biomass in swidden fallows in Laos. Forest Ecology & Management, 357, 104-116

McNicol, I.M., Ryan, C.M and Williams, M (2015a). Aboveground carbon storage and its links to forest structure, tree species diversity and floristic composition in south-eastern Tanzania. Ecological Applications, 25(8), 2320-2336