top of page

Caroline Dingle

I am an evolutionary ecologist who combines behavioural studies with genetic analysis and other tools to answer questions about the processes that create and maintain biodiversity, both in tropical forest and urban ecosystems. Before moving to Hong Kong, I worked primarily in the Ecuadorian Amazon and Andes. My current research focuses on urban ecology, including wildlife trade. I am currently a Senior Lecturer and the Director of the Conservation Forensics Lab in the School of Biological Sciences @HKU.

Selfie China.jpg


2009       PhD Zoology: University of Cambridge

               Thesis title: "Evolution and Function of Song in a Duetting Neotropical Passerine, the Gray-breasted Wood-Wren"

2004       MA Ecology and Systematics: San Francisco State University

               Thesis title: "Elevational Speciation and the Phylogenetic Relationships of the Henicorhina Wood-Wrens"

1996       BA Biology (Highest Honors): University of California, Santa Cruz (Elected Phi Beta Kappa)

1994       School for International Training (Field Semester Abroad: Comparative Ecology of Ecuador)

               Independent Project: "The Tagua Initiative - Evaluation of a Conservation Project in NW Ecuador"

1994       Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut: Biology; Science in Society Program


  • Yuan FL, Yeung CT, Prigge T-L, Dufour PC, Sung Y-H, Dingle C, Bonebrake TC. (In press) Conservation and cultural intersections within Hong Kong’s snake soup industry. Oryx.

  • Yuan FL, Prigge T-L, Sung YH, Dingle C, Bonebrake TC. (2022) Two genetically distinct yet morphologically indistinct Bungarus species (Squamata, Elapidae) in Hong Kong. Current Herpetology 41(1):114-124.

  • Sung YH, Lee W-H, Lau MW, Lau A, Wong PY, Dingle C, Yeung HY, Fong JJ. (2021) Species list and distribution of non-native freshwater turtles in Hong Kong. BioInvasions Records 10:960-968.

  • Zhan X, Liang D, Lin Xi, Li L, Wei C, Dingle C*, Liu Y*. (2021) Noise Levels but not Urbanization Increased Song Frequencies in an Urban Songbird in the Pearl River Delta, Southern China. Global Ecology and Conservation:e01695

  • Lei WP, Masero JA, Dingle C, Liu Y, Chai ZW, Zhu BR, Peng H, Zhang ZW, Piersma T. (2021) The use of man-made saltpan habitats for feeding by shorebirds: a stable-isotope assessment of differences between feeding guilds. Animal Conservation, Online Open Access.

  • Sung YH, Liew JH, Chan HK, Lee WH, Fung BH, Dingle C, Karraker N, Spencer R, Fong JF. (Accepted) Assessing the diet of the endangered Beale’s eyed turtle (Sacalia bealei) using faecal content and stable isotope analyses: implications for conservation. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems.

  • Andersson AA, Gibson L, Baker DM, Cybulski J, Wang S, Leung B, Chu LM, Dingle C*. (2021) Stable isotope analysis as a tool to detect illegal trade in critically endangered cockatoos. Animal Conservation.

  • To AWY, Dingle C, Collins SA. (2021) Multiple constraints on urban bird communication: both abiotic and biotic noise shape songs in cities. Behavioral Ecology.

  • Liew JH, Kho ZY, Lim RBH, Dingle C, Bonebrake TC, Sung YH, Dudgeon D. (2021) International socioeconomic inequality drives trade patterns in the global wildlife market. Science Advances 7(19):eabf7679.

  • Andersson AA, Lau W, Tilley HB, Dudgeon D, Bonebrake TC, Dingle C*. (2021) CITES and beyond: illuminating 20-years of global, legal wildlife trade. Global Ecology and Conservation, e01455.

  • McMillan SE, Dingle C, Allcock JA, Bonebrake TC. (2020) Exotic animal cafes are increasingly home to threatened biodiversity. Conservation Letters: e12760.

  • Hatten CER, Whitford A, Baker DMB, Dingle C. (2020) Wildlife forensics in Hong Kong. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Forensic Science: e1376.

  • Su T, Lin X, Huang Q, Jiang D, Zhang C, Zhang X, Dingle C, Goodale E, Que P, Wang R, Liu Y. (2019) Mercury exposure in sedentary and migratory Charadrius plovers distributed widely across China. Environmental Science and Pollution Research:1-10. doi: 10.1007/211356-019-06873-6

  • Chan HS, Dingle C, Not C. (2019) Evidence for non-selective ingestion of microplastic in demersal fish. Marine Pollution Bulletin 149:110523.

  • Bonebrake TC, Fengyi G, Dingle C, Baker DM, Kitching RL, Ashton LA. (2019) Integrating proximal and horizon threats to biodiversity for conservation. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 34(9):781-788.

  • Wang XJ, Que PJ, Heckel G, Hu J, Zhang X, Chiang CY, Zhang N, Huang Q, Liu S, Martinez J, Pagani-Núñez E, Dingle C, Leung YY, Szekely T, Zhang Z, Liu Y. (2019) Genetic, phenotypic and ecological differentiation suggests incipient speciation in two Charadrius plovers along the Chinese coast. BMC Evolutionary Biology 19:135.

  • Lim BTM, Sadanandan KR, Dingle C, Leung YY, Prawiradilaga DM, Irham M, Ashari H, Lee JGH, Rheindt F. (2019) Molecular evidence suggests radical revision to species limits in the great speciator white-eye genus Zosterops. Journal of Ornithology 160:1-16.

  • Wong CWM, Conti-Jerpe  IE , Raymundo LJ, Dingle C, Ponzo A,  Baker DM (2019) Whale shark ecotourism: impacts on coral reefs in the Philippines. Environmental Management 63(2):282-291.

  • Kang, YN, Li J, Imamovic L, Sarkar C, Heshiki Y, Zheng T, Kumari S, Wong JCY, Archana A, Wong CWM, Dingle C,  Denizen S, Baker DM, Sommer MOA, Webster CJ, Panagiotou G. (2018) The metro system may modulate the skin microbiome and resistome by its environmental exposures and the inner- and inter-city traffic flows. Cell Reports 24:1190-1202

  • Dingle C*, Slabbekoorn H. (2018) Multiple functions for pair duets in a Neotropical wren Henicorhina leucophrys. Animal Behaviour 14:67-76.

  • Guo, F*, Bonebrake TC, & Dingle C*. (2016) Low-frequency dove coos vary across noise gradients in an urbanized environment. Behavioural Processes 129:86-93.

  • Halfwerk W, Dingle C, Brinkhuisen D, Poelstra J, Komdeur J & Slabbekoorn H. (2016) Sharp acoustic boundaries across an altitudinal avian hybrid zone despite asymmetric introgression. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 29:1356-1367.

  • Jackson L, Pang MF, Brown E, Cain S, Dingle C & Bonebrake TC. (2016) Do we practice what we preach? An examination of the relationship between environmental attitudes and behaviors among secondary students in Hong Kong. The International Journal of Comparative Education and Development 18:70-80.

  • Isden J, Panayi C, Dingle C & Madden, JR. (2013) Performance in cognitive and problem-solving tasks in male spotted bowerbirds does not correlate with mating success. Animal Behaviour 86:829-838.

  • Madden JR,  Dingle C, Isden J, Sparfeld J, Goldizen A & Endler J. (2012) Cultivating a sexual display. Current Biology 22: R264–R265.

  • Dingle C. (2012) Dog Days, Raven Nights (book review). Ibis 154:223-224.

  • Madden JR, Isden J & Dingle C. (2011) Commentary on review by Boogert et al.: some problems facing females. Behavioral Ecology 22:461-462. 

  • Dingle C, Poelstra J, Halfwerk W, Brinkhuizen D & Slabbekoorn H. (2010) Asymmetric response patterns to subspecies-specific song differences in allopatry and parapatry in the gray-breasted wood-wren. Evolution 64:3537-3548. 

  • Dingle C.  (2011) Nesting Season (book review). Ibis 153:648-649.

  • Dingle C & Greeney HF.  (2009) Nesting of the Tropical Parula (Parula pitiayumi) in eastern Ecuador. Cotinga 31:47-49. 

  • Collar NJ, Dingle C, Gabremichael MN & Spottiswoode CN. (2009) Taxonomic status of the Degodi lark Mirafra degodiensis, with notes on the voice of Gillett’s lark M. gilletti.  Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club129:49-62.

  • Dingle C, Halfwerk W & Slabbekoorn H.  (2008) Habitat-dependent song divergence at subspecies level in the grey-breasted wood-wren.  Journal of Evolutionary Biology 21(4):1079-1089. 

  • Dingle C, Lovette IJ, Canaday C & Smith TB. (2006) Elevational zonation and the phylogenetic relationships of the Henicorhina wood-wrens. Auk 123:119-134. 

  • Greeney HF, Dingle C, Dobbs RC & Martin PR. (2006) The natural history of the streak-necked flycatcher Mionectes striaticollis in north-east Ecuador. Cotinga 25:59-64.

  • Gelis RA, Dingle C & Greeney HF. (2006) Cooperative breeding at a nest of the golden tanager Tangara arthus. Cotinga 26:79-81.

  • Greeney HF, Gelis RA, Dingle C, Vaca FJB, Krabbe N & Tidwell M. (2006) The nest and eggs of the plain-backed antpitta (Grallaria haplonota) from eastern Ecuador. Ornitologia Neotropical 17:601-604. 

  • Vaca JFV, Greeney HF, Gelis RA, Dingle C, Krabbe, N & Tidwell, M. (2006) The nest and eggs of the red-winged wood-rail Aramides calopterusfrom the foothills of north-east Ecuador. Cotinga 26:13-14.

  • Gelis RA, Greeney HF, Cooper M & Dingle C. (2006) The nest, eggs, nestlings and fledglings of fiery-throated fruiteater Pipreola chlorolepidota in north-east Ecuador. Cotinga 26:10-12.

  • Hobson KA, Wassenaar LI, Milá B, Lovette IJ, Dingle C & Smith TB. (2003) Stable isotopes as indicators of altitudinal distributions and movements in an Ecuadorean hummingbird community. Oecologia 136:302-308. 


# Principal Investigator *Co-I


  • Role of pangolins in the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses in humans.* (Research Grants Council Collaborative Research Fund: HKD 6.8 million)

  • Pangolins and pathogens: Advancing One Health through the tracking and disruption of illegal wildlife trade.* (Research Grants Council Research Impact Fund: HKD 6.9 million)

  • Combating the illegal and unsustainable trade in songbirds in East Asia.# (Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, HKD 301,500)

  • Understanding migratory behavior of terrestrial songbirds along the East Asian­ Australasian Flyway.* (HKU Seed Fund for Basic Research: HKD 120,000)

  • Natural selection, genetic variation and evolution – establishing a long-term study of individually marked birds.* (HKU Seed Fund for Basic Research: HKD 150,000)



  • Hong Kong as a hub and home for declining Tokay geckos: analysis of genetic diversity.* (Ocean Park Conservation Fund: HKD 202,300)

  • Tropical ecosystem consequences of artificial light at night through moth community changes.* (Research Grants Council Hong Kong, GRF: HKD 996,285)



  • Assessing impact of conservation forensics research on the fight to reduce global wildlife trade. (Knowledge Exchange Impact Project Scheme, HKU: HKD 100,000)

  • Developing a forensic toolkit to aid in the conservation of the Helmeted Hornbill Rhinoplax vigil. (National Geographic: USD 40,000)

  • Development of a forensic toolkit to aid in the conservation and the prevention of illegal trade of the critically endangered Helmeted Hornbill. (Ocean Park Conservation Foundation Hong Kong: HKD 170,000)

  • Assessing the threats to Yellow-crested Cockatoos (Cacatua sulphurea) in native habitats in Indonesia, and conservation opportunities in introduced populations in Hong Kong. Awarded to my PhD student, I am a Team Member (National Geographic Early Career Grant: USD 4,500).

  • Filling the knowledge gap - Current status of endangered freshwater turtles.* (Environment Conservation Fund: HKD 497,720)

  • Assessing the population status and ecological niche of the Critically Endangered Yellow-Crested Cockatoo Cacatua sulphurea in Singapore# (Wildlife Reserves Singapore Conservation Fund: HKD 141,000



  • Assessing the Marine Biodiversity and Ecology of Tolo Harbour and Channel, with Particular Reference to Coastal Marine Environments of Ting Kok and Shuen Wan Hoi – Phase II.* (Environment Conservation Fund: HKD 4,233,490)

  • Conservation Forensic Analysis: Optimizing a multi-marker toolkit# (HKU Seed Funding: HKD 44,320)

  • Compound-specific stable isotope analysis of amino acids: a new application in SIRMS* (HKU Seed Funding: HKD 55,400)



  • Noise annoys: evaluating the impact of urban noise on biodiversity in Hong Kong# (Research Grants Council Hong Kong, GRF: HKD 1,071,853)

  • Identifying Ecological Relationships of Cacatua sulphurea to Aid Conservation in its Native and Introduced Ranges* (Ocean Park Conservation Foundation Hong Kong: HKD 182,900)



  • Avian behavioural responses to urbanization – case study of the Oriental Magpie Robin# (HKU Seed Funding: HKD 120,000)

  • Exploring Education for Sustainable Development in Hong Kong: A Pilot Study Examining Environmental Attitudes of Secondary School Students* (HKU Seed Funding: HKD 35,400)

  • Assessing the Marine Biodiversity and Ecology of Tolo Harbour and Channel, with Particular Reference to Coastal Marine Environments of Ting Kok and Shuen Wan Hoi – Phase I* (Environment Conservation Fund: HKD 4,233,490)



  • International Society for Behavioral Ecology Travel Grant



  • Research Studentship (Cambridge Philosophical Society)

  • Travel Grant (Cambridge Philosophical Society)

  • Marcia Brady Tucker Travel Award (American Ornithologists’ Union)



  • Research Grants (St. John’s College Hollick Fund; American Ornithologists’ Union)



  • Conference Travel Grant (Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour)


  • Research Grant (Weis-Fogh Fund; University of Cambridge)


  • Travel Grant (CSUPERB); Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need Travel Grant




  • Gates Cambridge Fellowship (£60,000)

  • Overseas Research Studentship (£21,600)



  • Fulbright Fellowship for Graduate Research Abroad (US$11,000)

  • Achievement Reward for College Scientists Fellowship (US$5000)

  • Graduate Awards in Areas of National Need (GAANN) Fellowship (US$36,000)


Teaching Development Grants

  • Common Core Teaching Development Grant: “The Development of the Common Core course ‘Our Living Environment’”* (HKD 80,000)

  • Common Core Digital & Multi-media Innovations Grant*: “Extending teaching and learning using customized videos”. (HKD 20,000)

  • HKU China 1000 Exchange Programme Grant​


Academic Honors and Awards

2020: University Excellence Awards - Knowledge Exchange

2019: University Excellence Awards: Outstanding Teaching Award (HKU)

2019: HKU Faculty of Science Knowledge Exchange Award

2009: Staff Merit Award, University of Exeter

2007: Award for outstanding student paper (125th Meeting of the American Ornithologists’ Union)

2005: Student presentation award (EGI Student Ornithological Conference, Oxford, UK)

1996: Elected Phi Beta Kappa (Honor Society), UC Santa Cruz Chapter

bottom of page