Dr Claire Carvell, monitoring bumblebees

Sampling pollen

Dr Claire Carvell

Ecologist / Entomologist

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

Research interests

I am involved in a range of projects aiming to conserve and restore habitats of high value for biodiversity in grassland and arable farming systems. My main research interest is in the ecology and conservation of bumblebees. These important pollinators have suffered serious declines across Europe as a result of agricultural intensification, with over half of Britain's 24 species under threat. My work involves gathering detailed knowledge of bumblebee habitat requirements, e.g. the pollen and nectar sources they require, and how these can be provided in intensively managed landscapes. I am also interested in the effects of landscape structure and composition on bumblebee behaviour and population dynamics of these and other insects. I use a combination of field observations, experiments, molecular genetics and modelling approaches to answer research questions. The overall aim is to inform agri-environment policy and management practices that will conserve and enhance sustainable and diverse pollinator populations in a variety of landscapes. I have talked about my work on the BBC Radio 4 programmes, Nature and Changing Places.

Current areas of research include:

  • Investigating the impact of habitat structure on queen and worker bumblebees in the field (under the Insect Pollinators Initiative)
  • The effects of arable field margin composition and management on bumblebees and butterflies and their food plants (the Buzz Project; SAFFIE LINK project)
  • Assessing the value of different forage mixtures for bumblebees by direct observation and pollen analysis methods
  • Formulating and testing sustainable techniques for establishing and managing seed mixtures on arable land under the Environmental Stewardship Scheme
  • The influence of landscape structure and habitat patch size on bumblebee population dynamics at the colony and population level (the Big Bee Project)


Brief CV

  • 2004 onwards: Higher Scientific Officer, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
  • 2006: Member of panel of part-time tutors for the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education
  • 2004-2006: PhD (part-time), University of Southampton: "Bumblebee habitat restoration in the agricultural landscape"
  • 2000-2004: Scientific Officer, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Monks Wood
  • 2000: Entomological consultant, CCW / Bumblebee Working Group
  • 1998-1999: MSc in Conservation (distinction), University College, London
  • 1995-1998: BSc Zoology, Imperial College London

Selected publications

See also the NERC Open Research Archive.

Dreier, S., Redhead, J.W., Warren, I., Bourke, A.F.G., Heard, M.S., Jordan, W.C., Sumner, S., Wang, J. and Carvell, C. 2014. Fine-scale spatial genetic structure of common and declining bumble bees across an agricultural landscape. Molecular Ecology
doi: 10.1111/mec.12823

Vanbergen, A.J. and the Insect Pollinators Initiative (including Carvell, C.) 2013. Threats to an ecosystem service: pressures on pollinators. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 11 (5), 251–259.

Carvell, C, Jordan, WC, Bourke, AFG, Pickles, R, Redhead, JW and Heard, MS 2012. Molecular and spatial analyses reveal links between colony-specific foraging distance and landscape-level resource availability in two bumblebee species. Oikos 121, 734-742.

Carvell, C, Osborne, JL, Bourke, AFG, Freeman, SN, Pywell, RF and Heard, MS 2011. Bumble bee species' responses to a targeted conservation measure depend on landscape context and habitat quality. Ecological Applications 21, 1760–1771.

Carvell, C., Meek., W.R., Pywell., R.F., Goulson, D. and Nowakowski, M. 2007. Comparing the efficacy of agri-environment schemes to enhance bumblebee abundance and diversity on arable field margins. Journal of Applied Ecology 44, 29-40.

Carvell, C., Roy, D.B., Smart, S., Pywell, R.F., Preston, C.D. and Goulson, D. 2006. Declines in forage availability for bumblebees at a national scale. Biological Conservation 132: 481-489.

Ellis J.S., Knight M.E., Carvell C. and Goulson D. 2006. Cryptic species identification: a simple diagnostic tool for discriminating between two problematic bumblebee species. Molecular Ecology Notes 6, 540-542.

Carvell, C., Westrich, P., Meek, W.R., Pywell, R.F. and Nowakowski, M. 2006. Assessing the value of annual and perennial forage mixtures for bumblebees by direct observation and pollen analysis. Apidologie 37, 326-340.

Pywell, R.F., Warman, E.A., Carvell, C., Sparks, T.H., Dicks, L.V., Bennett, D.,Wright, A., Critchley, C.N.R. and Sherwood, A. 2005.  Providing foraging resources for bumblebees in intensively farmed landscapes. Biological Conservation 121: 479-494.

Carvell, C., Meek., W.R., Pywell., R.F. and Nowakowski, M. 2004. The response of foraging bumblebees to successional change in newly created arable field margins.  Biological Conservation 118, 327-339.

Croxton, P.J., Carvell, C., Mountford, J.O. and Sparks, T.H. 2002. A comparison of green lanes and field margins as bumblebee habitat in an arable landscape. Biological Conservation 107, 365-374.

Carvell, C. 2002. Habitat use and conservation of bumblebees (Bombus spp.) under different grassland management regimes.  Biological Conservation 103,33-49.