• Head of Department - Biology, Biology

    Accepting PhD Students

    PhD projects

    • Landscape genetics of forest-associated invertebrates
    • Saproxylic species in plantations forests: deadwood and biodiversity
    • The value of mixed plantations for supporting biodiversity.


    Research activity per year

    Personal profile


    I joined the Biology Department in 2012. In 2006 I completed my PhD in Ecology from University College Cork, Ireland, which investigated the potential of plantation forests to support a diverse spider fauna. Following this I spent time as a Postdoctoral Fellow in Ireland and as a Marie Curie International Fellow at the University of Alberta in Canada researching the impacts of forest management on biodiversity in temperate and boreal ecosystems. This work included research in both managed and natural forests as well as a range of grassland and peatland habitats and has involved extensive collaboration with stakeholders to ensure a sound evidence base for policy. In 2016 I became a Reader in Ecology.

    In 2015 I became a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society. I am deputy coordinator of the International Union of Forest Research Organisations Sub-division on Forest Biodiversity and in 2015 I established the Royal Entomological Society special interest group on Forest Insects and their Allies. I organise annual meetings, bringing together researchers and stakeholders with common interests from across the UK and beyond.

    Research interests

    My Research explores the juxtaposition between biodiversity, ecosystem functioning and resilience in response to environmental change with focus on the sustainable management of ecosystems in forestry and agriculture. I am a specialist in arthropod ecology and have worked extensively with botanists and ornithologists, adopting a multi-taxon approach to biodiversity research.

    Globally, we are at a tipping point; in the era of the anthropocene, human-induced modifications to natural landscapes have resulted in significant biodiversity loss. Likely driving mechanisms are habitat loss, fragmentation, climate change, pollution and invasive species. However, the effect of this biodiversity loss on ecosystem function is only beginning to be explored and the key question of how can we ensure ecosystem resilience in to the future? remains unanswered. My research focuses on exploring the mechanistic link between management in agricultural and forest systems, biodiversity and ecosystem function, with the aim of adopting management approaches that promote ecosystem resilience. I undertake research in a range of taxonomic approaches across temporal and spatial scales to address these questions in field and experimental settings.


    I teach on modules across all academic levels from first year undergraduate to masters.  I also deliver research training to research students on MRes and PhD degrees. Topics include ecology, conservation, sustainable ecosystem management, statistics and research practice. I am programme leader for the MSc Conservation Management and Coordinator of the MRes Science programme across the instution.

    In 2014 I completed a PGCE in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education with Distinction and became a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. 

    External engagement

    Ongoing collaborations

    Long standing and emerging collaborations continue to explore these themes with local, national and international partners:

    • Dr David Williams and Dr Nadia Barsoum, Forest Research, Forestry Commission, UK. (2017-)
    • Dr Julieta Filloy. University of Buenos Aires. Eucalypt plantation biodiversity and resilience (2017-).
    • Dr Hervé Jactel, Bordeaux, INRA. Orphee Project. Investigating biodiversity and ecosystem functioning under the influence of a changing climate (2017-).
    • Dr Sebastien Seibold, Technische Universität München. Biotic agents of wood decomposition relative to global climate (2016-).
    • Professor John Spence, University of Alberta. EMEND The Ecosystem Management Emulating Natural Disturbance Project (2009-).
    • Professor John O’Halloran, University College Cork, Ireland: PLANFORBIO Planning and Management Tools for Biodiversity in a Range of Irish Forests; BIOFOREST Biodiversity in Irish Plantation Forests (2001-).

    Professional and society memberships

    • International Union of Forest Research Organisations, member
    • Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society, FRES
    • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, FHEA
    • British Arachnological Society, member
    • British Ecological Society, member

    PhD External Examining

    • University of Swedish Agricultural Sciences. 2016.
    • Harper Adams University. 2017.
    • Southampton University. 2018.

    Manuscript Reviewing

    Functional Ecology, Oecologia, Insect Conservation and Diversity, Journal of Insect Conservation, Ecosphere, Agricultural & Forest Entomology, Forest Ecology and Management, Boreal Environment Research, Journal of Insect Science, Biodiversity and Conservation, Forests, Journal of Applied Ecology

    Editorial Advisory Board member for the international journal Forest Ecology and Management Since 2016.

    Grant Reviewing

    European Commission Horizon 20:20 Cost Actions; British Ecological Society; Natural Environmental Research Council.

    Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

    In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

    • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
    • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
    • SDG 13 - Climate Action
    • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
    • SDG 15 - Life on Land

    Education/Academic qualification

    Higher Education, PGCert, Edge Hill University

    Award Date: 1 Sept 2014

    Ecology, PhD, The effect of plantation forests on ground-dwelling spiders, University College Cork

    Award Date: 1 Jul 2006

    Ecology, BSc, Páramo spiders of Volcán Chiles, Ecuador, University of Plymouth

    Award Date: 1 Jun 2000

    Other positions

    External Examiner - BSc and MSci, Staffordshire University

    1 Sept 201630 Sept 2019

    External Consultant - Programme Validation, Liverpool John Moores University

    1 Apr 201530 Apr 2015


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