I am a conservation ecologist trained in Egypt (BSc), the UK (MRes), and Germany (Dr. rer. nat / postdoc). I am interested in spatial-, quantitative-, and macro-ecology, biogeography, and biodiversity conservation. I am particularly interested in data and methodological challenges in this realm.
My research is mainly focused on studying the spatial distribution of biodiversity and the prioritization of conservation efforts. I am interested in understanding factors determining species distributions in time and space, mainly using the overarching methods of species distribution modelling.
During my master research at the University of Nottingham (UK - 2011/2012), I modelled the distribution of the Egyptian reptiles under current and future climates, and studied the the potential impact of anthropogenic climate change on them [Read more]. Then, as a doctorate student at the University of Freiburg (Germany - 2014/2018), I studied some issues affecting the reliability of presence-only species distribution models for wildlife conservation in developing countries [Read more].
From 2018 to 2022, I was as a postdoctoral researcher at the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Germany. I modelled the spatio-temporal distribution of baleen whales in polar areas, particularly in the Southern Ocean, using visual observations and passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) data.
Currently, I am a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Community Ecology, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ). My current research focuses on modelling of the distribution and evaluating threats of invasive alien plant species across Europe, a part of the biological Digital Twin project (BioDT).


  • Spatial Ecology
  • Macroecology
  • Biodiversity
  • Conservation
  • Ecological Modeling
  • #Rstats


  • Dr. rer. nat. in Biometry and environmental system analysis, 2018

    University of Freiburg, Germany.

  • MRes in Conservation Biology, 2012

    The University of Nottingham, UK.

  • BSc in Zoology, 2005

    Suez Canal University, Egypt.



Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter (postdoctoral researcher)

Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research (Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung; UFZ), Germany

Feb 2023 – Present Halle (Saale), Germany

Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter (postdoctoral researcher)

Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Germany

Jul 2018 – May 2022 Bremerhaven, Germany

Dr. rer. nat.

Department of biometry and environmental system analysis, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg

Apr 2014 – Jul 2018 Freiburg, Germany
First supervisor: Prof. Carsten Dormann (Univeristy of Freiburg)
Second supervisor: Prof. Francis Gilbert (Univeristy of Nottingham, UK)
Thesis title: Reliability of species distribution modelling for wildlife conservation in developing countries.
Scholarship: GERLS scholarship (German-Egyptian Research Long-term Scholarship): a program jointly funded by the Egyptian Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) and the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD).

MRes (Master by Research) in Conservation Biology (with distinction)

University of Nottingham, School of Life Sciences, Behaviour and Ecology group

Oct 2011 – Mar 2013 Nottingham, UK


Nature Conservation Sector, Egypt (Gebel Elba National Park)

Jan 2011 – Present Cairo, Egypt


Nature Conservation Sector, Egypt (National Biodiversity Unit)

Nov 2009 – Jan 2011 Cairo, Egypt


Nature & Science Foundation (NSF)

Aug 2008 – Nov 2009 Cairo, Egypt


BioMAP Project (Biodiversity Monitoring and Assessment Project)

Oct 2005 – Aug 2008 Cairo, Egypt

Postgraduate Diploma in Physiology and Biochemistry

Suez Canal University, Faculty of Science, Ismailia, Egypt

Sep 2005 – Jun 2006 Ismailia, Egypt

Bachelor of Science (Zoology)

Suez Canal University, Faculty of Science, Ismailia, Egypt

Sep 2001 – Jun 2005 Ismailia, Egypt

My Research

Only peer-reviewed papers are shown below. To see all publications click here.
For confirmed peer reviews click here. For supervised theses click here.

Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) distribution modeling on their Nordic and Barents Seas feeding grounds

Understanding cetacean distribution is essential for conservation planning and decision-making, particularly in regions subject to …

Dynamic species distribution models in the marine realm: predicting year-round habitat suitability of baleen whales in the Southern Ocean

Species distribution models (SDMs) relate species information to environmental conditions to predict potential species distributions. …

Multi-year presence of humpback whales in the Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean but not during El Niño

Humpback whales are thought to undertake annual migrations between their low latitude breeding grounds and high latitude feeding …

Static species distribution models in the marine realm: the case of baleen whales in the Southern Ocean

Aim: Information on the spatiotemporal distribution of marine species is essential for developing proactive management strategies. …

Spatial conservation prioritisation in data-poor countries: a quantitative sensitivity analysis using multiple taxa

Background: Spatial conservation prioritisation (SCP) is a set of computational tools designed to support the efficient spatial …

Improved species-occurrence predictions in data-poor regions: using large-scale data and bias correction with down-weighted Poisson regression and Maxent

Species distribution modelling (SDM) has become an essential method in ecology and conservation. In the absence of survey data, the …

Wrong, but useful: regional species distribution models may not be improved by range-wide data under biased sampling

Species distribution modeling (SDM) is an essential method in ecology and conservation. SDMs are often calibrated within one …

Conserving Egypt's reptiles under climate change

Climate change has caused range shifts and extinctions of many species in the recent past. In this study, the effects of climate change …

The Desert Beauty Calopieris eulimene: a butterfly new to Egypt (Insecta: Lepidoptera)

Download PDF Ahmed El-Gabbas & Francis Gilbert 2016 The Desert Beauty Calopieris eulimene: a butterfly new to Egypt (Insecta: Lepidoptera) Zoology in the Middle East 62:3(279-281) 10.1080/09397140.2016.1202984 The butterfly genus Calopieris Aurivillius, 1898 has only one species: the Desert Beauty Calopieris eulimene (Klug, 1829) (Ackery, Smith, & Vane-Wright, 1985), which is a rare Afrotropical species considered to be one of the most xerophilic butterflies in Africa (T.

Testing the accuracy of species distribution models using species records from a new field survey

Species distribution models are a very popular tool in ecology and biogeography and have great potential to help direct conservation …

Biodiversity economics: the value of pollination services to Egypt

Pollinator populations are under severe pressure worldwide because of man-made intensification in land use, including the use of …

Climate-based models of spatial patterns of species richness in Egypt’s butterfly and mammal fauna

Aim: Identifying areas of high species richness is an important goal of conservation biogeography. In this study we compared …

Effect of characteristics of butterfly species on the accuracy of distribution models in an arid environment

Species distribution models show great promise as tools for conservation ecology. However, their accuracy has been shown to vary widely …


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