Giovanni Rapacciuolo, Ph.D.

Institute for Biodiversity Science & Sustainability email
California Academy of Sciences phone +1 (510) 610-5646
San Francisco skype giovanni.rapacciuolo
California 94118, USA www


Biodiversity and Global Change

Modeling of past and future impacts of environmental change on the distribution of species and ecosystems.

Geospatial analyses and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

Systematic conservation planning.

Data Science

Programming and statistics.

Synthesis, management, analysis and visualization of big datasets.

Information sharing and open and reproducible science workflows.

Leadership and Management

Expertise at the interface between macroecological research and conservation practice.

Leadership of international multi-disciplinary and multi-organization teams.

Excellent written and oral communication skills as evidenced by record of scientific publications/talks/lectures.

Supervision and training of undergraduate and graduate students.


2009 - 2013

PhD, Biodiversity and Global Change. Imperial College London, UK

Title: “Predicting species’ range shifts under global change: when can species distribution models be useful?”

  • Model distribution responses of British plants, birds and butterflies to recent environmental changes
  • Develop methods for testing the prediction accuracy of species distribution models in space and time

Advisors: Prof Andy Purvis (Imperial College London), Dr David Roy (Centre for Ecology and Hydrology)

2005 - 2009

MSci (undergraduate degree), Biology, 1st class honors. Imperial College London, UK

Thesis: “Traits correlates of range change in British plants”


2018 - present

Research Scientist. California Academy of Sciences, CA, USA

  • Build a framework and tools for taking advantage of community-based science efforts to inform management of coastal biodiversity and Marine Protected Areas in California.
  • Lead the preparation of reports to California Fish and Wildlife and California Ocean Protection Council
  • Organize, host and run meetings with scientists, conservation practitioners, policimakers, and members of the public to discuss research findings and explore recommendations
  • Public and stakeholder outreach within the Academy

Advisors: Dr Rebecca Johnson, Dr Alison Young

2017 - 2018

Postdoctoral Scholar. University of California Merced, CA, USA

  • Model the drivers of ecological community structure and dynamics in Palau marine lake ecosystems
  • Integrate modern ecological survey data with paleoecological data

Advisors: Prof Michael Dawson, Prof Jessica Blois. Project: NSF Dimensions of Biodiversity Grant

2015 - 2017

Biodiversity Postdoctoral Associate. NatureServe, VA, USA

  • Model the drivers of species, functional and phylogenetic biodiversity across terrestrial vertebrates
  • Analyze the relationship among biodiversity dimensions in spatial conservation planning
  • Project the future impacts of species extinctions on terrestrial vertebrate biodiversity

Advisors: Dr Bruce Young, Prof Catherine Graham. Project: NSF Dimensions of Biodiversity Grant

2013 - 2015

Postdoctoral Scholar. University of California Berkeley, CA, USA

  • Model the responses of California plants, vertebrates and invertebrates to 20th century climate change
  • Collaborate on building an online tool ( integrating many spatial and temporal biodiversity data sources to advance understanding of biotic responses to global change

Advisors: Prof Rosemary Gillespie, Prof Charles Marshall. Project: Berkeley in Global Change Biology


2015 - $5,000

Socio-environmental Immersion Fellowship. National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, MY, USA.

2013 - $100,000

Postdoctoral Scholarship. Berkeley Initiative in Global Change Biology, CA, USA.

2009 - $50,000

Climate Change Research Scholarship. Old Mutual plc, London, UK.


Google Scholar profile | Altmetrics data

(drafts available
upon request)

Rapacciuolo G, Blois J. Understanding community dynamics in space and time: integrating data and methods in light of theory. Ecography.

Rapacciuolo G, Beman JM, Schiebelhut LM, Dawson MN. Microbes and macro-invertebrates show parallel beta-diversity but contrasting alpha-diversity patterns in a marine natural experiment. Proceedings of the Royal Society B.


Radeloff VC [and 17 others, including Rapacciuolo G]. The Dynamic Habitat Indices (DHIs) from MODIS and global biodiversity. Remote Sensing of Environment. 222: 204-214. Find full text


Rapacciuolo G, Graham CH, Marin, J, Behm JE, Costa GC, Hedges SB, Helmus MR, Radeloff VC, Young BE, Brooks TM. Species diversity as a surrogate for the conservation of phylogenetic and functional diversity in terrestrial vertebrates across the Americas. Nature Ecology & Evolution 3: 53-61. Find full text

Rapacciuolo G. Strengthening the contribution of macroecological models to conservation practice. Invited contribution for the Macroecology 30th Anniversary Issue at Global Ecology and Biogeography 28: 54-60. Find full text.

Yates KL [and 49 others, including Rapacciuolo G]. Outstanding challenges in the transferability of ecological models. Trends in Ecology and Evolution. Online early. Find full text.

Marin J, Rapacciuolo G, Costa GC, Graham CH, Brooks TM, Young BE, Radeloff VC, Behm JE, Helmus MR, Hedges SB. Evolutionary time drives global tetrapod diversity. Proc. Roy. Soc. B 285. Find full text.


Rapacciuolo G, Ball-Damerow JE, Zeilinger A, Resh VH. Detecting long-term occupancy changes in Californian odonates from natural history and citizen science records. Biodiversity and Conservation 26: 2933-2949. Find full text.

Rapacciuolo G, Marin J, Costa GC, Helmus MR, Behm JE, Brooks TM, Hedges SB, Radeloff VC, Young BE, Graham CH. The signature of human pressure history on the biogeography of body mass in tetrapods. Global Ecology and Biogeography 26: 1022-1034. Find full text.

Zeilinger A, Rapacciuolo G, Turek D, Oboyski P, Almeida R, Roderick G. Museum specimen data reveal emergence of a plant disease may be linked to increases in the insect vector population. Ecological Applications 27: 1827-1837. Find full text.

Young BE, Auer S, Ormes M, Rapacciuolo G, Schweitzer D, Sears N. Are pollinating hawk moths declining in the Northeastern United States? An analysis of collection records. PLoS ONE 12: e0185683. Find full text.


Fiorella KJ, Rapacciuolo G, Trisos C. Species loss: learn from health metrics. Nature (Correspondence) 538: 371. Find full text.

Kelly M, Easterday K, Rapacciuolo G, Koo MS, McIntyre P, Thorne J. Rescuing and sharing historical vegetation data for ecological analysis: The California Vegetation Type Mapping project. Biodiversity Data Journal 11: 40 - 62. Find full text.


Pearse WD, Chase MW, Crawley MJ, Dolphin K, Fay MF, Joseph JA, Powney G, Preston CD, Rapacciuolo G, Roy DB, and Purvis A. Beyond the EDGE with EDAM: prioritising British plant species according to evolutionary distinctiveness, and accuracy and magnitude of decline. PLoS One 10: e0126524. Find full text.


Rapacciuolo G, Maher S, Schneider AC, Hammond TT, Jabis MD, Walsh WE, Iknayan KJ, Walden GK, Oldfather MF, Ackerly DD, Beissinger SR (2014) Beyond a warming fingerprint: individualistic biogeographic responses to heterogeneous climate change in California. Global Change Biology 20: 2841 - 2855. Find full text.

Rapacciuolo G, Roy DB, Gillings S, Purvis A (2014). Temporal validation plots: quantifying how well species distribution models predict species’ range changes over time. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 5: 407 - 420. Find full text.

Powney GD, Rapacciuolo G, Preston CD, Purvis A, Roy DB (2014) A phylogenetically-informed trait-based analysis of range change in the vascular plant flora of Britain. Biodiversity and Conservation 23: 171 - 185. Find full text.


Rapacciuolo G, Roy DB, Gillings S, Fox R, Walker K, Purvis A (2012) Climatic associations of British species distributions show good transferability in time but low predictive accuracy for range change. PLoS One 7: e40212. Find full text.

Oliver TH, Gillings S, Girardello M, Rapacciuolo G, Brereton TM, Siriwardena GM, Roy DB, Pywell R, Fuller RJ (2012) Population density but not stability can be predicted from species distribution models. Journal of Applied Ecology 49: 581 - 590. Find full text.


Biodiversity Modeling

Expertise in species distribution and occupancy modeling using Generalized Linear, Machine Learning, and Hierarchical Bayesian models.

Expertise in modeling spatial and temporal variation in of species, functional and phylogenetic diversity of ecological communities.

Expertise in geospatial analyses and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) using R, ArcGIS and ArcPy.

Expertise in systematic spatial conservation planning using Zonation.

Programming and Data Science

Expertise in R programming and statistical environment for integration, manipulation and analysis of big data.

Expertise in in reproducible workflows, code version control and management using Git and GitHub.

Expertise in data visualization and sharing using ggplot2, R Markdown, R Shiny, HTML, CSS.

Working knowledge of Python and SQL.


Trilingual: English (native), French (native), Italian (native).


Guest lecturer


“The Nature of Communities”. ESS 148: Fundamentals of Ecology. University of California, Merced, CA, USA.

“Change in Communities”. ESS 148: Fundamentals of Ecology. University of California, Merced, CA, USA.

Teaching assistant

2011, 2012

Computing and Biodiversity courses. MS, Ecology, Evolution and Conservation, Imperial College London, UK.

2010, 2011

Statistics and Computing courses. years 1-3, BS, Biology, Imperial College London, UK.

Graduate supervisor


Emma Sheard. MS, Ecology, Evolution and Conservation, Imperial College London, UK.

Thesis title: “Can biotic interactions be used to explain the distribution of monophagous moths in Britain?”.

Undergraduate supervisor

2017, 2018

Carolina Karuppiah. BS, Psychology, University of California, Merced, CA, USA.

Zachary Malone. BS, Earth System Science, University of California, Merced, CA, USA.


Arif Ali. BS, Computer Science, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA.


2013, 2014

Species Distribution Modeling workshop. University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA.

2010, 2011

Generalised Linear Modeling in R course. Imperial College London, UK.


22 Mar 2018

University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, USA.

“Dimensions of terrestrial vertebrate biodiversity: key drivers and opportunities for conservation”

21 Apr 2017

American Museum of Natural History, New York City, NY, USA.

“The consequences of species loss for terrestrial vertebrate biodiversity”

24 Jan 2017

University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA.

“Improving climate change vulnerability assessments using data on functional traits and historical distributions”.

24 Apr 2014

Australian National University, Canberra, AU.

“Using historic data sources to calibrate and validate models of species’ range dynamics”.

21 Sep 2012

Botanical Society of the British Isles, Edinburgh, UK.

“Can we predict recently-observed changes in the British Flora?”.


June 2018 - Talk

“We have all the data, now what? The importance of planning for biodiversity data integration”. Digital Data in Biodiversity Research Conference, Berkeley, CA

Jan 2017 - Poster

“A signature of human pressure amid ecological constraints on the distribution of body mass in tetrapods”. International Biogeography Society Meeting, Tucson, AZ, USA.

Apr 2014 - Poster

“Rescuing and integrating data in the face of global change”. Understanding Biodiversity Dynamics Symposium, Canberra, AU.

Sep 2011 - Talk

“Species distribution models fail to predict observed range shifts of British species from climate”. Spatial Ecology and Conservation Conference, Birmingham, UK.


Apr 2018

“Generalities in community structure between microbes and macro-organisms in the marine lakes of Palau”. University of California, Merced, CA, USA.

Mar 2016

“Drivers of ecological niche volume and packing in terrestrial vertebrate assemblages across the globe”. NatureServe, VA, USA.

Nov 2015

“Using disparate historical data sources to understand species’ recent and likely future range shifts”. Stony Brook University, NY, USA.

Mar 2015

“Detection and attribution of species’ recent range shifts using disparate historic data sources”. University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA.



2017 - present

Guest Associate Editor for Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, Biogeography and Macroecology section.

Editor of topic “Ecological non-equilibrium in the Anthropocene” in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.



Reviewed for Trends in Ecology and Evolution, Biology Letters, Global Change Biology, Global Ecology and Biogeography, Ecography, Methods in Ecology and Evolution, Journal of Biogeography, Animal Conservation, Climate Risk Management, Climatic Change, Ecology and Evolution, IBIS, PLoS One. Publons profile.

Adaptation plans

“Silicon Valley 2.0”. Climate change adaptation assessment. Santa Clara Office of Sustainability, San Francisco, CA, USA. Sep 2014.


Reviewed for National Science Foundation. Nov 2015.


“HYKL”. Bayesian species distribution modeling. Microsoft Research, Cambridge, UK. Jun 2012.



“Big ecological questions: diverse data, new methods”. University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Oct 2014.


“Biotic responses to climate change in California”. University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Apr-Dec 2013.



Cross-Disciplinary Statistical Applications in the Anthropocene. SESYNC, MD, USA. Sep 2017.



Published R source code associated with a number of projects on GitHub.

Collaborated on


Personal research website:

Purvis lab website. Imperial College London, London, UK. From 2010-2012.


UC Merced

Prof Jessica Blois,, Associate Professor, University of California Merced, CA, USA.

Prof Michael Dawson,, Professor, University of California Merced, CA, USA.


Dr Thomas Brooks, Head, Science and Knowledge, IUCN.

Dr Catherine Graham, Senior Scientist, Swiss Federal Research Institute, CH.

Dr Bruce Young, Director, Species Science, NatureServe, VA, USA.

UC Berkeley

Prof Rosemary Gillespie, Professor, University of California Berkeley, CA, USA.

Imperial College

Prof Andy Purvis, Research Leader, Natural History Museum, London, UK.