Professional summary

Research Interests

I study how biodiversity is distributed in space, how it is changing over time, and how we measure it. My research combines statistical analysis with the development of tools for making robust inferences from noisy data. Most of my research is based on terrestrial invertebrates in the UK, using data gathered by volunteer citizen scientists. My research focuses on four main questions:

  • How is biodiversity changing? I use occupancy models to derive national trends in the species status over several decades, and summarize change over many species using biodiversity indicators and species traits.
  • What drives biodiversity change? Biodiversity is subject to numerous threats (e.g. land-use intensification) as well as some opportunities (e.g. many temperate ectotherms are expected to benefit from climate warming). I address this question by modeling the impact of key drivers on the status of individual species. I am particularly interested in the dynamics of species whose distributions are changing rapidly.
  • How can ecology overcome the problem of spatial scale? Many ecological patterns change depending on the spatial scale at which they are measured. This reflects the fact that ecology is influenced processes operating at a range of spatial scales, and that data collection is often pragmatic and/or opportunistic. My research explores how processes at small scales cause patterns at large scales.
  • How can we make robust inferences from data with different sampling protocols, or with no protocol? The UK has an impressive set of standardized biodiversity monitoring programs, but the spatial and taxonomic coverage remains limited. By contrast, citizen science delivers vast quantities of unstandardized data that contain numerous biases. My research seeks to understand these biases in order to make robust inferences from unstructured data. In addition, I am working on methods to combine standardized monitoring data with unstructured observations without losing the strengths of each.

My research is funded by NERC, JNCC and Defra. My main collaborators are Gary Powney & Tom August, but I work with many colleagues in the Biological Records Centre and the rest of CEH.

Graduate Students:

  • Charlie Outhwaite (2014-): Trends and indicators from biological records
  • Liam Crowther (2014-): The Tree Bumblebee, Bombus hypnorum: understanding the ecological success of a naturally colonising pollinator
  • Alun Jones (2014-): Trends in marine biodiversity from unstructured observations
  • Louise Barwell (2011-2015): Extrapolating insect biodiversity across scales
  • Robin Curtis (2007-2012): Resource limitation in butterflies
  • Savrina Carrizo (2006-2011):  Trends in the distribution and abundance of North American breeding birds

Click here for a list of MSc, MRes & PhD project opportunities.

Brief CV

  • 2008-present               Macroecologist in the Biological Records Centre, CEH
  • 2002-2008                   Research Fellow at the Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London
  • 1998-2002                   PhD in Evolutionary Biology, Imperial College at Silwood Park

I am an Associate Editor of Methods in Ecology & Evolution and Global Ecology & Biogeography. I am an active member of the British Ecological Society, and I sit on the NERC Peer Review College. 

Versions of my publication list are available on ResearcherID, Google Scholar and the NORA preprints server. See also my profile on figshare.