Steffi Dekegel


  • Conservation Biology
  • Sustainability in the cocoa sector
  • Primatology
  • Impact of climate change


I am currently working as a PhD student at the Antwerp Zoo Centre for Research and Conservation, the Université Catholique de Louvain and the State University of Santa Cruz (Brazil). My PhD uses an interdisciplinary approach to promote biodiversity conservation and economic sustainability in the cocoa sector.


I have a particular interest in conducting research that can contribute to the long-term conservation of endangered species, by working closely with local communities. My PhD research focuses on the impact of shade-tree management in cocoa agroforestry systems for its conservation value and economic profitability for smallholders cacao farmers. It is part of Project BioBrasil and the conservation strategy of the Bahian Lion Tamarin Conservation Initiative, which aims to maintain and restore functional habitat connectivity for the endangered Golden-headed lion tamarin by increasing the economic sustainability of cocoa agroforestry systems in the region of southern Bahia, Brazil.


Before starting my PhD, I worked for two years as a research assistant at the Antwerp Zoo Centre for Research and Conservation (CRC) on an EU-funded research project. My role consisted of assessing the potential impact of climate change on the distribution of the endangered Golden-headed lion tamarin in Brazil by modelling the species’ climatic suitability under future climate change scenarios. I also tested and evaluated the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) for Global Biodiversity through this research project. I worked closely with my colleague Peter Galbusera and the Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO). Before that, I performed fieldwork in South Africa where I provided technical assistance in evaluating mitigation strategies to address crop-raiding issues of primates on local farms and also organised environmental education sessions in schools. I obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Ghent University (2016) and a Master’s degree in Biology: Biodiversity, Conservation and Restoration from the University of Antwerp (2018). As part of my master thesis for Projet Grands Singes at the CRC, I investigated the effects of anthropogenic activities on tropical forest mammals in different land-use types in and around the Dja Biosphere Reserve in Cameroon.

More on ResearchGate.