Richard leads the delivery of knowledge-based solutions to conserve and restore biodiversity, natural resources and ecosystem functions that are responsible for human well-being and livelihoods in semi-natural and intensively managed habitats.
- Agroecology, in particular agri-environment schemes
- Grassland ecology
- Restoration of biodiversity and ecosystem services
- Landscape ecology and conservation
- Plant-insect and plant-soil interactions
- Sustainable land management
- Senior Principal Scientist at the NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
- Science Area Lead for Sustainable Land Management research
- Head of a section of 32 staff plus 15 students
- Trustee on UK National Biodiversity Network
- Visiting Professor at Liverpool University.
- Contributing author for the UK National Ecosystem Assessment
- Scientific advisor to Syngenta Operation Bumblebee and Operation Pollinator
Neonicotinoid pesticide effects on bees - I am leading an independent Pan-European study of the effects of neonicotinoid seed dressings on insect pollinators. This will involve establishing a large-scale replicated experiment on commercial farms in the UK, Germany and Hungary growing commercial oilseed rape crops and examining their impact on pollinator populations.
Pollinator conservation - Since 1999 I have worked closely with Defra and the farming industry to develop practical and effective means of conserving and enhancing pollinator populations within the intensively farmed countryside. This has involved designing new pollen and nectar-rich habitats to support bees and engaging with the farming industry to encourage their creation over large areas of the countryside through initiatives such as Operation Pollinator.
Agri-environmental research - My work has quantified the effectiveness of existing agri-environment practices and policies, developed new and innovative approaches to enhance biodiversity and ecosystem function on commercial farms, and demonstrated the importance of farmer training and engagement in the delivery of policy objectives. I am currently leading several projects commissioned by Defra to improve the effectiveness of agri-environment management measures in conserving farmland biodiversity, and protecting water and soil resources. This involves management to improve the quality of hedgerow habitats on farmland and to conserve declining arable plant species. I am also working closely with the farming industry and Natural England to design economically viable and environmentally sustainable means of controlling commercially important weed species, such as Blackgrass.
Experimental Farm Platforms - I have designed and implemented a large-scale ecological experiment on a 1,000ha commercial arable farm in Buckinghamshire. The aim is to test the potential for environmentally sustainable increases in agricultural production by enhancing species (pollinations, pest control species) and ecosystem functions that support crop yields. This 10 year experiment in so-called ‘ecological intensification’ is funded by Defra, Natural England and the farming industry.
Impacts of military training on biodiversity - For many years I have worked closely with the Ministry of Defence and Defence Infrastructure Organisation to measure the impacts of military training on the biodiversity and sites of nature conservation importance. This has underpinned the sustainable management and use of the UK training estate and led to a large consortium project under the NERC BESS programme exploring the links between biodiversity and ecosystem services in the landscape around Salisbury Plain.
PhD, 'Restoration of heathland on farmland in Dorset’, University of Liverpool
Publication statistics (Researcher ID)
Publications (Web of Science): 84
Citations (Web of Science): 2376
H-index (Web of Science): 27