Dr Bethan Purse

Ecological Modeller

Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
Maclean Building
Benson Lane
Crowmarsh Gifford
OX10 8BB
T: +44 (0)1491 838800
E-mail: Dr Bethan Purse

Current work

My research involves the use of large-scale datasets to explain and predict impacts of environmental changes on biodiversity. Recent projects have focused largely on vector borne-disease systems and invasive species. I am currently investigating the impacts of changing wetland management regimes on UK mosquito communities and their ability to transmit pathogens as part of an interdisciplinary CEH funded project. I am also exploring the ecological mechanisms underlying species range changes, currently for UK alien plant species (European Union FP 6 Integrated ALARM Project) and UK passerines, and integrating models of host habitat suitability into risk-assessment frameworks for plant and animal pathogens (Phytophthora - UKPopNet-small projects and Scottish Government funding; bluetongue virus – Scottish Government funding).


Research interests

  • Explaining and predicting the differential impacts of environmental changes on species and communities using statistical and biological modelling tools.
  • Importance of biotic interactions in mediating ecological responses to climate change.
  • Application of remotely-sensed data to the description, explanation and prediction of patterns in vector borne-diseases and other invasive species.
  • Landscape ecology of diseases.
  • Integration of ecological modelling into risk management frameworks for pathogens and pests.


PhD students

  • Lara Salido (co-supervisors Rob Marrs, University of Liverpool, Susanne Shultz, Oxford University). Topic: Why are some species more vulnerable to environmental changes than others? Passerines as a model taxon.
  • Nick Golding (co-supervisors Miles Nunn, CEH and David Rogers, Oxford University). Topic: Teasing apart impacts of climate and landscape drivers of UK mosquito communities using high resolution remotely sensing.
  • Richard Comont (co-supervisors, Helen Roy, CEH, Richard Harrington, BBSRC Rothamsted, Owen Lewis, Oxford University) Topic: Impacts of harlequin ladybirds on native ladybirds and aphids: climate change, intraguild predation or direct competition for aphid prey?
  • Lara Harrup (co-supervisors Simon Carpenter, Philip Mellor, Institute for Animal Health, David Rogers, Oxford University). Topic: The Influence of Farm-Level Factors on Midge Abundance and Transmission of Arboviruses.





Brief CV

  • 2007 to date: Ecological modeller at CEH at Edinburgh.
  • 2005 to 2007: Post-doctoral research (Spatial Ecology and Epidemiology Group, Oxford University) on a BBSRC/Defra funded project on the risk to the UK of bluetongue and other orbiviruses. As well as, investigating the impacts of regional climate change on the emergence of bluetongue virus across Europe.
  • 2002 to 2004: Post-doctoral research at the Institute for Animal Health, Pirbright on an EU-funded project on assessment the risk of bluetongue, a devastating midge-borne livestock disease, across the Mediterranean.  We managed an extensive Culicoides vector and bluetongue surveillance system and used these data to model the key environmental drivers of midge distributions and bluetongue transmission across the region.
  • 1998-2002: Doctoral research (University of Liverpool, Environment Agency funding) on the Ecology and Conservation of the Southern Damselfly, Coenagrion mercuriale, a rare damselfly that reaches its northern range limit in Britain.
  • 1994-1997: Degree in Zoology, Oxford University .

Selected publications

See also the NERC Open Research Archive.

N.A. Hartemink, B.V. Purse , R.Meiswinkel, H.E. Brown, A. de Koeijer , A.R.W. Elbers , G-J. Boender , D.J. Rogers and H. Heesterbeek. 2009. Mapping the basic reproduction number (R0) of vector-borne diseases; a case study on bluetongue virus in the Netherlands. Epidemics 1, 153-161.

Purse, B. V., and D. J. Rogers. 2009. Bluetongue virus and climate change. Pp 343-358 in Bluetongue. Edited by P. S. Mellor, M. Baylis, and P. P. C. Mertens. Elsevier, London.

Purse, B. V., H. E. Brown, L. Harrup, M. P.P., and D. J. Rogers. 2008. Invasion of bluetongue and other orbivirus infections into Europe: the role of biological and climatic processes. Revue scientifique et technique (International Office of Epizootics) 27:427-442.

Purse, B. V., Mellor, P.S., Baylis, M., McCormick, B.J.J., D.J. Rogers, (2007) Incriminating bluetongue virus vectors with climate envelope models, Journal of Applied Ecology, 44, 6, 1231–1242

Purse, B. V., Baylis M., McCormick B.J.J, Rogers, D. J. (2006) ‘T 8.3: Hindsight and foresight on the spread of bluetongue virus in Europe’ in Foresight Infectious Diseases: preparing for the future: Detection and Identification of Infectious Diseases (DIID): Office of Science and Innovation

Scharlemann J.P.W. Benz, D., Hay, S.I., Purse, B.V., Tatem, A.J.., Wint, G.R.W., & Rogers, D.J. (2008) Global Data for Ecology and Epidemiology: A Novel Algorithm for Temporal Fourier Processing MODIS Data. PLoS One, 3(1): e1408. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001408

Ducheyne, E. Codina, B., Bécu, S., De Deken, R., Nomikou, K., Mangana-Vougaki, O, Georgiev, G., Purse, B.V., Hendrickx, G. (2007) Quantifying the dispersal of Culicoides species in Greece and Bulgaria by wind, Geospatial Health 2, 177-189

Purse, B.V., Nedelchev, N., Georgiev, G., Veleva, E., Boorman, J., Denison, E., Veronesi, E., Carpenter, S., Baylis, M., & Mellor, P.S. (2006) Spatial and temporal distribution of bluetongue and its Culicoides vectors in Bulgaria. Medical and Veterinary Entomology, 20, 335-344.

Purse, B.V., Mellor, P.S., Rogers, D.J., Samuel, A.R., Mertens, P.P.C., & Baylis, M. (2005) Climate change and the recent emergence of bluetongue in Europe. Nature Reviews Microbiology, 3, 171-181.

Purse, B.V., Hopkins, G.W., Day, K.J., & Thompson, D.J. (2003) Dispersal characteristics and management of a rare damselfly. Journal of Applied Ecology, 40, 716-728.