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Rachael Thornley – University of Reading

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Rachael Thornley

Remote sensing of UK semi-natural grasslands.

I am doing a PhD funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) looking how we can use satellite and drone technology to assess the condition of grasslands of nature conservation importance in the UK. I am specifically working on the robustness of optical diversity measures to predict plant species diversity and hope to develop during the course of my studies other optical indicators of condition. My research will contribute towards developing workable tools for the assessment and monitoring of semi-natural temperate vegetation systems.


About Me:

I hold a BSc in Natural Sciences from the Open University, and an MRes in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation from Imperial College. I competed two dissertations during my masters study, the first was a meta-analysis of biodiversity change research at the Natural History Museum London and the second tested the ability of remote sensing technologies to detect the ash die-back pathogen Hymenoscyphus fraxineus. Before I started my PhD, I spent several years working in UK nature conservation, managing open spaces and nature reserves. As a complement to my research, I continue to work a few weeks a year for the forest restoration charity, Trees For Life, helping re-wild the Highlands of Scotland.

Research Interests:

  • Plant conservation.
  • Habitat management.
  •  Remote sensing.

Research Groups:

Environmental Science Research Division






Professor Anne Verhoef (University if Reading)

Dr Kevin White (University of Reading)

Dr France Gerard (Centre for Ecology and Hydrology)

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