Professional summary

Simon is a senior research scientist and botanist at the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. He is a visiting professor at Liverpool University. He has 27 years experience in the recording, analysis, interpretation and statistical modelling of ecological change in temperate ecosystems with a particular focus on vascular plants. He has led a range of projects investigating the causes and consequences of large-scale changes in plant species composition. These include leading the analysis of vegetation change for Countryside Surveys 2000 and 2007; GANE (searching for large-scale signals of the effects of atmospheric N deposition on terrestrial plant communities); GB Woodland Change and Signal Attribution (partitioning national-scale temporal change in woodland soils and species composition among competing driving forces); UKREATE Work Package leader (Developing models for detecting the interacting impacts of climate change, management and pollutant deposition on terrestrial plant communities and soils).

He also instigated and continues to manage the development of the MultiMOVE package of realized niche models for British plant species and designed and co-wrote the MAVIS software program for assignment of vegetation to the National Vegetation Classification ( The software currently has over 3500 professional, amateur and student users in Britain. He is also the biodiversity lead for Welsh Environment & Rural Affairs Monitoring & Modelling Program. Simon is an enthusiastic botanist having been a member of the Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland since 1990 and have served as an elected member of BSBI council. He is currently BSBI plant recorder for vice-county 102 that covers the lumpy glory of Jura, the balmy machair of Colonsay, the relatively populous Islay and a number of beautiful uninhabited outlying islands. He also took over as Land-Use Group Leader in December 2019.

His interests are in answering four key questions about ecological change with an emphasis on temperate ecosystems over the last 100 or so years of human domination; 1) what has changed and where? 2) why have the changes occurred? 3) do they matter? 4) can we use the answers to these questions to develop models that may help us estimate future states? His abiding passion is land plants and so the above agenda is generally focussed on vegetation, plants and plant traits but recognising interdependencies with water, soil, climate, air, animals and the central role of humans. 

For an example of some recent modelling outputs check out this web app at . It arose from some work funded by NERC and the BSBI. We recruited two national experts to pass judgement on 1300 plant species niche models covering all the plants that contribute most to ecosystem services and functions in British ecosystems. A key conclusion was that the more expert assessments the better and so we designed this application to allow users to examine and assess the niche model for their favourite plants.

Web tools and apps

Free apps and on-line tools:

MAVIS (match quadrat data with the National Vegetation Classification): 

Common plant trends tracker for GB: 

Find Your Niche:



Selected publications