I am a terrestrial ecologist with a particular passion for bumblebees and other insect pollinators and broader research interests in the interactions between biodiversity and land-use change. I use a combination of field observations, experiments, molecular genetics, analyses of long-term datasets and modelling approaches to answer research questions. The overall aim is to inform agri-environment policy and other management practices that will conserve and enhance diverse pollinator populations, and more widely contribute to our growing understanding of sustainable farming systems. I co-ordinate the UK Pollinator Monitoring Scheme as part of the Pollinator Monitoring and Research Partnership.
Current research topics:
- The ecology and conservation of wild bees and other insect pollinators
- Assessing population dynamics in social insects
- Restoration and management of agro-ecosystems to enhance plant and invertebrate biodiversity and interactions between plants and their pollinators
- Developing and influencing research-based agri-environment policy using a combination of field observations, experiments and modelling approaches
- Long-term monitoring of pollinators at national scales.
Senior Ecologist (NERC Band 5) working within the Biodiversity Science Area at the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Wallingford.
- Advisory Steering Group member for Defra’s National Pollinator Strategy
- Scientific Advisor to the Bees & Pollinators Advisory Steering Group for Friends of the Earth (FoE), Synopses of Conservation Evidence (University of Cambridge), the Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BBCT) and Polli:Nation project.
- Scientific advisor for the UK Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST)
- Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society (RES)
- Member of the Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society (BWARS)
Current and Recent Projects
- Safeguarding Pollination Services in a Changing World (SURPASS2), 2019-2022 (WP Lead: Newton Fund Latin America Biodiversity Programme: Biodiversity - Ecosystem services for sustainable development, awarded by the UKRI Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Collaboration of UK Institutes with partners in Argentina, Brazil and Chile.
- Establishing a UK Pollinator Monitoring and Research Partnership, 2017 – 2019. (Lead PI: Defra, JNCC, Welsh Government, Scottish Government). Collaboration with University of Reading, University of Leeds, Natural History Museum and NGO partners.
- Sustainable management of orchard pollination services, 2016 – 2020. (Co-I: BBSRC Industrial partnership award). Collaboration with University of Reading and NIAB East Malling Research.
- Achieving Sustainable Agricultural Systems (ASSIST), 2016 – 2021+. (Project Co-ordinator: NERC-BBSRC LTS-M programme). Collaboration with Rothamsted Research.
- Design and testing of a National Pollinator and Pollination Monitoring Framework, 2014-2016. (Lead PI: Defra, Welsh and Scottish Governments) Collaboration with University of Reading; University of Leeds; Open University and NGO partners.
- Investigating the impact of habitat structure on queen and worker bumblebees in the field, 2010-2014. (Lead PI. Insect Pollinators Initiative Grant, under LWEC: BBSRC, NERC, Defra, Scottish Gov., Wellcome Trust). Collaboration with Prof. Andrew Bourke, University of East Anglia and Dr Seirian Sumner, Institute of Zoology/ University College London. Follow news stories from this research: First bumblebees’ eye view of the landscape and Queens disperse far from their birthplace
- Developing multifunctional enhanced fallow agri-environment scheme prescriptions 2009-2013. (Project manager 2010-2011 and lead researcher: Defra, Natural England).
- Restoration and management of bumblebee habitat in agricultural landscapes, 2003-2008 (Co-PI and grant author: Defra/ Natural England) Collaboration with Prof. A. Bourke, University of East Anglia; the late Dr W. Jordan, Institute of Zoology; Dr Juliet Osborne, Rothamsted Research; P. Westrich, Germany; M. Nowakowski, Wildlife Farming Company and M. Heard, CEH.
- The ‘Hillesden’ project: Quantifying impacts of the Entry Level Scheme on biodiversity 2005-2010 (Leader of pollinator research: Defra/ Natural England).
- The ‘BUZZ’ project: Comparison of new and existing agri-environment scheme options for biodiversity enhancement on arable land. 2002-2007 (Leader of pollinator research. Defra/ Syngenta/ Unilever.
- Sustainable Arable Farming For an Improved Environment (SAFFIE), 2003-2007 (Researcher on pollinator responses: Defra Link project) Collaboration with S. Potts, University of Reading and R. Pywell, CEH.
- Utilisation of pollen resources by bumblebees in an enhanced arable landscape, 2003-2004 (Lead PI: English Nature)
Practical guide and policy note:
“Habitat Creation and Management for Pollinators” (2016)
“Managing Farmed Landscapes for Pollinating Insects” LWEC Policy and Practice Note 27.
Liam Crowther NERC CASE studentship - Joint lead Supervisor with Prof. Andrew Bourke, University of East Anglia. “The Tree Bumblebee, Bombus hypnorum: the ecology and genetics of a naturally colonising pollinator” (2013 – 2017)
Thomas Dally NERC DTP Studentship – Co-supervisor with Prof Bill Kunin, University of Leeds. “Pollinator monitoring: comparing standardised and novel methods” (2015 – 2018)
Education and qualifications:
2003-2006 PhD (part-time) Bumblebee habitat restoration in the agricultural landscape. University of Southampton
1998-1999 MSc Conservation (Distinction), University College London
1995-1998 BSc Zoology (2.i.), Imperial College, London