Dr. Cao is a Professor in the State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Professor Cao focus on wetland and biodiversity ecology and conservation, and movement ecology. Recent technology innovations in IT and micro-electronics have led to the rapid development of satellite tracking devices and techniques. By deploying cutting-edge transmitting devices, Professor Cao’s group has initiated tracking programs in many sites in and outside China. Professor Cao is also coordinating a national monitoring and research network of bird-tracking in China.

Professor Cao is currently presiding over 20 research projects sponsored by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) and other international cooperative projects. As of June 2017, Professor Cao has published over 80 international journal articles of the fields of Ecology, Ornithology or Multidisciplinary Sciences, including Nature, Nature Communications, Current Biology. Based on the above work, she was invited to give plenary report at the 26th International Ornithological Congress (Tokyo, 2014), and give Alfred Newton Lecture at the British Ornithologists’ Union 2019 Annual Conference (Coventry, 2019).

Research Areas

Wetland and biodiversity ecology and conservation, movement ecology


Sep 2002- Dec 2005, Ph.D., Biology, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, Gansu, China

Sep 1987-Jun 1991, B.S., Biology, Hunan Normal University, Changsha, Hunan, China


Work Experience

Dec 2013- present Professor, State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

Jul 2011- Sep 2011 Visiting Professor, Charles Sturt University, Albury, Australia

Dec 2010- Nov 2013 Professor, School of Life Sciences, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, Anhui, China

Dec 2005- Nov 2010 Associate professor, School of Life Sciences, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, Anhui, China



Selected Publication in the last five years

  1. Wang X, Cao L*, Fox AD, Fuller R, Griffin L, Mitchell C, Zhao Y, Moon OK, Cabot D, Xu Z, Batbayar N, Kölzsch A, van der Jeugd H, Madsen J, Chen L, and Nathan R*. 2019. Stochastic simulations reveal few green wave surfing populations among spring migrating herbivorous waterfowl. Nature Communications 10: 2187.

  2. Deng X, Zhao Q, Fang L, Wang X, He H, Cao L*, and Fox AD. 2019. Spring migration duration exceeds that of autumn migration in Far East Asian Greater White-fronted Geese (Anser albifrons). Accepted by Avian Research.

  3. Gu D, Chai Y, Gu Y, Hou J *, Cao L*, and Fox AD. 2019. Annual migration routes, stopover patterns and diurnal activity of Chinese-wintering Eurasian Bittern Botaurus stellaris. Accepted by Bird Study.

  4. An A, Cao L*, Jia Q, Wang X, Zhu Q, Zhang J, Ye X, and Gao D. 2019. Changing Abundance and Distribution of the Wintering Swan Goose Anser cygnoides in the Middle and Lower Yangtze River Floodplain: An investigation combining a field survey with satellite telemetry. Sustainability 11(5):1398.

  5. Chen Y, Zhang Y*, Cao L*, de Boer WF, and Fox AD. 2019. Wintering Swan Geese maximize energy intake through substrate foraging depth when feeding on buried Vallisneria natans tubers. Avian Research 10:6.

  6. An A, Zhang Y, Cao L*, Jia Q, and Wang X. 2018. A potential distribution map of wintering Swan Goose (Anser cygnoides) in the middle and lower Yangtze River foodplain, China. Avian Research 9:43.

  7. Wang X, Cao L*, Batbayar N, and Fox AD. 2018. Variability among autumn migration patterns of Mongolian Common Shelducks (Tadorna tadorna). Avian Research 9:46.

  8. Zhang Y*, Fox AD., Cao L*, Jia Q, Lu C and Prins HH., and de Boer WF. 2019. Effects of ecological and anthropogenic factors on waterbird abundance at a Ramsar Site in the Yangtze River Floodplain. Ambio 48:293–303.

  9. Cao L, Wang X, and Fox AD*. 2018. Letter to the editor regarding: Sponge Wetlands: restoring functional flood relief to China’s great rivers. Wetlands Ecology and Management 26(5):729-731.

  10. В.Ю. Ильяшенко, O.V. Belyalov, E.I. Ilyashenko, A.E. Gavrilov, S. Zaripova, Ma M, Batbayar N, and Cao L. 2018. Results of crane marking in Tuzkol Lake, Kazakhstan in 2017. Newsletter Crane Working Group of Eurasia14:89-101.

  11. Rozenfeld SB, Zamyatin DO, Vangeluwe D, Kirtaev GV, Rogova NV, Cao L, and Popovkina AB. 2018. The taiga Bean Goose (Anser Fabalis Fabalis) in Yamalo-Nenets autonomous okrug. Casarca 20:28-52.

  12. Zhao Q, Wang X, Cao L*, and Fox AD. 2018. Why Chinese wintering geese hesitate to exploit farmland. Ibis 160:703-705.

  13. Wang X, Cao L*, Bysykatova I, Xu Z, Rozenfeld S, Jeong W, Vangeluwe D, Zhao Y, Xie T, Yi K, and Fox AD. 2018. The Far East taiga forest: unrecognized inhospitable terrain for migrating Arctic-nesting waterbirds? Peer J 6:e4353.

  14. Jia Q, Wang X, Zhang Y, Cao L*, and Fox AD. 2018. Drivers of waterbird communities and their declines on Yangtze River floodplain lakes. Biological Conservation 218:240–246.

  15. Ye X, Xu Z, Aharon-Rotman Y, Yu H, and Cao L*. 2018. First description of Grey Heron Ardea cinerea migration recorded by GPS/GSM transmitter. Ornithological Science 17(2):223-228.

  16. Aharon-Rotman Y*, McEvoy J, Zheng Z, Yu H, Wang X, Si Y, Xu Z, Zeng Y, Jeong W, Cao L*, and Fox, AD. 2017. Water level affects availability of optimal feeding habitats for threatened migratory waterbirds. Ecology and Evolution 7(23):10440–10450.

  17. Yu H, Wang X, Cao L*, Zhang L, Jia Q, Lee H, Xu Z, Liu G, Xu W, Hu B, and Fox AD. 2017. Are declining populations of wild geese in China “prisoners” of their natural habitats? Current Biology 27(10):376-377.

  18. Zhang L, Wang X, Zhang J, Ouyang Z, Chan S., Crosby M, Watkins D, Martinez J, Su L, Yu Y, Szabo J, Cao L*, and Fox AD. 2017. Formulating a list of sites of waterbird conservation significance to contribute to China’s Ecological Protection Red Line. Bird Conservation International 27:153–166.

  19. Jia Q, Cao L*, Ye´sou H, Huber C, Fox AD. 2017. Combating aggressive macrophyte encroachment on a typical Yangtze River lake: lessons from a long-term remote sensing study of vegetation. Aquatic Ecology 51(1):177–189.

  20. Zhang Y*, Prins HH., Versluijs M, Wessels R, Cao L*, and de Boer WF. 2016. Experimental Evidence Shows the Importance of Behavioural Plasticity and Body Size under Competition in Waterfowl. PloS ONE 11(10):e0164606.

  21. Xie S, Lu F, Cao L, Zhou W, Ouyang Z*. 2016. Effects of Park Landscape Patterns on Bird Communities in Beijing Urban Area in Summer. Landscape Architecture Frontiers 4(3):10-21.

  22. Yang Y, Zhan A, Cao L*, Meng F, and Xu W. 2016. Selection of a marker gene to construct a reference library for wetland plants, and the application of metabarcoding to analyze the diet of wintering herbivorous waterbirds. Peer J 4:e2345.

  23. Yang Y, Deng Y, and Cao L*. 2016. Characterizing the interspecific variations and convergence of gut microbiota in Anseriformes herbivores at wintering areas. Scientific Reports 6:32655.

  24. Xie S, Lu F, Cao L, Zhou W, and Ouyang Z*. 2016. Multi-scale factors influencing the characteristics of avian communities in urban parks across Beijing during the breeding season. Scientific Reports 6:29350.

  25. Choi CY, Takekawa JY, Prosser DJ, Smith LM, Ely CR, Fox AD, Cao L, Wang X, Batbayar N, Natsagdorj T, and Xiao X *. 2016. Chewing Lice (Phthiraptera) of Swan Geese (Anser cygnoides): New Host-Parasite Associations. The Korean Journal of Parasitology 54(5):685-691.

  26. Choi CY, Lee KS, Poyarkov ND, Park JY, Lee H, Takekawa JY, Smith LM, Ely CR, Wang X, Cao L, Fox AD, Goroshko O, Batbayar N, Prosser DJ, and Xiao X*. 2016. Low Survival Rates of Swan Geese (Anser cygnoides) Estimated from Neck-Collar Resighting and Telemetry. Waterbirds 39(3):277-286.

  27. Zhang Y, Prins HH., Cao L*, Zhao M, and de Boer WF. 2016. Variation in Elevation and Sward Height Facilitate Coexistence of Goose Species through Allometric Responses in Wetlands. Waterbirds 39(1):34-44.

  28. Jia Q, Kazuo K., Chang Y, Kim H., Cao L*, Gao D, and Fox, AD. 2016. Population estimates and geographical distribution of swans and geese in East Asia based on counts during the non-breeding season. Bird Conservation International 26:397–417.

  29. Zhang Y*, Jia Q, Prins HH., Cao L*, and de Boer WF. 2015. Effect of conservation efforts and ecological variables on waterbird population sizes in wetlands of the Yangtze River. Scientific Reports 5:17136.

  30. Han R, Zhang J, Cao L, and Lu X*. 2015. Propulsive performance of a passively flapping plate in a uniform flow. Journal of Hydrodynamics 27(4):496-501.

  31. Zhang Y, Jia Q, Prins HHT, Cao L*, and de Boer WF. 2015. Individual-Area Relationship Best Explains Goose Species Density in Wetlands. PloS One 10 (5):e0124972.

  32. Zhao M, Cao L*, Klaassen M, Zhang Y, and Fox AD. 2015. Avoiding competition? Site use, diet and foraging behaviours in two similarly sized geese wintering in China. Ardea 103:27-38.

  33. Wang X, Fox AD, Zhuang X, Cao L*, Meng F, and Cong P. 2014. Shifting to an energy-poor diet for nitrogen? Not the case for wintering herbivorous Lesser White-fronted Geese in China. Journal of Ornithology 155:707-712.

  34. Fox AD, Meng F, Liu J, Yang W, Shan K, and Cao L*. 2014. Effects of the length of inundation periods on investment in tuber biomass and sexual reproduction by Vallisneria spinulosa SZ Yan Ramets. Knowledge and Management of Aquatic Ecosystems DOI:10.1051/kmae/2014014.

  35. Barter M, Zhuang X, Wang X, Cao L*, Lei J, Solovyeva D, and Fox AD. 2014. Abundance and distribution of wintering Scaly-sided Mergansers Mergus squamatus in China: where are the missing birds? Bird Conservation International 24:406-415.

Research Interests

Wetland and biodiversity ecology and conservation, movement ecology


  1. Cao L. Alfred Newton LectureUsing waterbird telemetry data to support freshwater wetland conservation in Chin. The British Ornithologists’ Union 2019 Annual Conference, Coventry, UK, 26-28 Mar 2019.

  2. Cao L. Using avian telemetry devices to support wetland conservation in China. The 27th International Ornithological Congress, Vancouver, Canada, 16-27 Aug 2018.

  3. Cao L. Recent progress on Telemetry study-based bird monitoring in China and the importance of cooperation in East Asia. The 9th Meeting of Partners (MOP9) of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP), Singapore, 9-16 Jan 2017.

  4. Cao L. Reports and work plans on waterbird monitoring of the East Asian Flyway. Long-distance avian flyers facing hardship in all cardinal directions: comparing north-south migration of waterbirds along the western and the eastern Palearctic flyways. Jerusalem, Israel, 14-28 Feb 2017.

  5. Cao L. Plenary Lecture. Research progress and prospect on waterbird behaviors before migration in China. Black Brant Specialists Meeting and study on waterbird migratory behavior comparison between flyways in China and Japan. Tokyo, Japan, 14-28 March 2017.

  6. Cao L. Review on waterbirds monitoring in East Asia. The 1st International Cooperation for Animal Research Using Space (ICARUS) User Workshop and the 6th International Bio-Logging Symposium (BLS6). Seewiesen, Germany, 21-30 Sep 2017.

  7. Cao L. Recent progress on bird monitoring on the East Asian Flyway. China-Australia Environmental Sustainability Partnership in 2017. Brisbane, Australia, 8-17 Oct 2017.

  8. Cao L. Are declining populations of wild geese in China 'prisoners' of their natural habitats?. Development of collaborative research on Movement Ecology in 2017. Geelong, Australia, 10-17 Dec 2017.

  9. Cao L. Research and Conservation Status of the Lesser White-fronted Goose Anser eryhropus of the East Asian Flyway. The 3rd Meeting of the AEWA Lesser White-fronted Goose International Working Group. Trondheim, Norway, 12-14 April, 2016.

  10. Cao L. Mechanism in determining biodiversity in the East Asian Flyway. The joint international research project of globally threatened species breeding in Russia. Pevek, Russia. 12 July-25August, 2016.

  11. Cao L. Mechanism and challenges of waterbird migration. Symposium on migratory bird and transboundary animal disease and signing ceremony of a research agreement. Gyeongsangbuk-do, Republic of Korea, 28-30 September, 2016.

  12. Cao L. Waterbird monitoring techniques and methods. SINO BON Bird Monitorting Training Course. Beijing, China, 23-27 May, 2016.

  13. Cao L. The Status of Goose Populations in East Asia. Waterfowl of Northern Eurasia: Research, conservation, and sustainable use. Salekhard, Russia, 30 November – 6 December, 2015.

  14. Cao L. Satellite Tracking-based Bird Monitoring in Asia Pacific: Recent Progresses and Sino BON. The 8th GEOSS Asia-Pacific Symposium. Beijing, China, 9-11 September, 2015.

  15. Cao L. Plenary Report: Effects of the environmental change on waterbirds of the East Asian Flyway. The Student Conference on Conservation Science (SCCS). Brisbane, Australia, 9-19 January, 2015.

  16. Cao L. The East Asian-Australasian Flyway: waterbirds in trouble. The 26th International Ornithological Congress. Tokyo, Japan, 18-24 August, 2014.


Associate Editor of Wetlands and Frontiers in Environmental Science since 2016

Associate Editor of Avian Research since 2014

Associate Editor of Bird Conservation International since 2011

Member of the British Ornithologists' Union since 2016

Member of the International Ornithologists' Union since 2014

Member of the 10th Council of China Ornithological Society since 2009

Member of IUCN-Wetlands International Goose Specialist Group since 2005

Member of Pacific Seabirds Group since 2004



叶雪琴  硕士研究生  077601-环境科学  


安桉  博士研究生  071300-生态学  

张俊健  博士研究生  071300-生态学  

孟凡娟  博士研究生  071300-生态学  

李祥煌  硕士研究生  071300-生态学  

李鸿滨  硕士研究生  071300-生态学  

邓雪琴  博士研究生  071300-生态学  

敖佩如  硕士研究生  071300-生态学  

Honors & Distinctions

Awarded “Prize for 2019 Alfred Newton Lecture of BOU annual conference” in 2019

Awarded “Prize for China Zoological Society Youth Science and Technology” in 2013

Awarded “Prize for The national five one labor medal” in 2012

Awarded “Excellent Woman Prize in Anhui Province” and “Excellent Work Medal in Anhui Province” in 2011

Awarded “Teaching Achievement Award in Anhui Province” in 2011

Awarded University of Science and Technology of China Chancellor Excellent Research Prize in 2009

Awarded “Prize for Threatened Birds and Animals Research”, Gansu Province Natural Science Prize in 2008

Awarded The 7th “Cheng Tso-Hsin Ornithological Science Youth Prize” in 2006