My name is Louise, I'm an ecologist based at the Natural History Museum, London.

My research focuses on tropical rainforest biodiversity, rainforest canopy ecology and climate change impacts on insect communities. I am interested in understanding the factors shaping ecosystems, primarily using insect herbivores.

I moved from Brisbane, Australia to London, England to join the Termite-Ant Research Team. This work focuses on ecosystem manipulation experiments to isolate and identify of the drivers of ecological functioning. My field work is mostly based in Borneo, where I spend about 5 months a year collecting insects and carrying out experiments. I will use this website for updates from the field, as well as news and photos from around the Natural History Museum.


 Email: l.ashton@nhm.ac.uk


Maliau River, Sabah



Natural History Museum, London - Postdoctoral researcher (2015 to present)

Griffith University, Brisbane – Postdoctoral researcher (2013 – 2015)

Terrestrial Ecosystems Research Network (TERN), Australia – Researcher (2009 – 2013)

Griffith University Terrestrial Ecology Lab, Brisbane – Research assistant (2006 – 2008)

Macquarie University, Sydney – Research assistant (2006 – 2007)

International research projects

NERC funded researcher on the Biodiversity and Land-use Management (BALI) project. This study, based at Maliau Basin, Sabah, Malaysia, is a large-scale ecosystem manipulation experiment investigating the roles of termites and ants in tropical rainforest (2015 to present)

Griffith University and Mackay Regional Council funded project to study the biodiversity of the rainforest of Eungella (2013 to 2015)

Queensland-Chinese Academy of Sciences Project – a major international collaborative project investigating the ecological patterns of diversity across altitude and latitude (2011-2013)

Kunming Institute of Zoology Project comparing the use of meta-bar-coding techniques with traditional taxonomic identification of bulk ecological samples (2012-2013)

National Geographic study investigating the effects of forestry on beta diversity in Sabah, Borneo (2013-2014)

Peninsular Malaysia – international collaboration studying impacts of logging on herbivore diversity (2011-2013)

University of Toulouse, France – National Geographic funded collaborative study examining patterns of herbivore diversity in the Pyrenees (2011 - 2015) 

PhD thesis – “Moths and Mountains: diversity altitude and latitude”, investigated the distributions of a key insect herbivore in the context of ecological theory and climate change impacts

Teaching and outreach

I have presented at international conferences in the UK, Australia and China and was a plenary speaker at the 7th international canopy conference (http://www.canopyconference2016.com/). I was an invited speaker at a canopy science workshop at Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanic Garden, Yunnan, China and presented an invited seminar to students at Universiti Malaysia, Sabah.

During my work at Griffith University (February 2008 to February 2015) I taught biology and ecology to first, second and third year students. This included running large ‘introduction to biology’ labs, an annual, week-long field ecology course for third year students, and in my final year at Griffith, lecturing to second and third year students on the ecology and zoology of animal life. I am co-supervisor of three undergraduate ecology student projects.

During the Eungella Biodiversity study (2012-2014) in Queensland, Australia, I was particularly involved in community outreach, including open days, primary and secondary school education days and coordinated a large volunteer team. I liaised with council and community groups, and ran public seminars and information sessions about this publicly funded project.


2009-2013 – PhD, Terrestrial ecology group, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia

2008 – BSC Ecology honours program, Griffith University (1st class honours and award for academic excellence) 

2003 – 2006 BSC Ecology and Conservation Biology, Griffith University