DPhil - University of Bristol (1998)
BSc - University of Leeds (1994)
Biological & Environmental Sciences
School of Natural Sciences
University of Stirling
Scotland, FK9 4LA
tel: +44 1786 467799
fax: +44 1786 467843
email: Kirsty Park
My research interests are broadly concerned with the effects of anthropogenic change on biodiversity and how to manage this. I focus primarily on animal ecology and conservation in heavily managed environments such as agricultural and urban landscapes and forestry. Go to this site for my full list of publications. To get a copy of any of these papers please email me or find me on ResearchGate.
Questions currently being asked within my research group include:
|Photo credit: JD Altringham|
Agricultural intensification and expansion are regarded as major causes of worldwide declines in biodiversity during the last century. There are a number of measures that includes lower intensity agricultural systems and agri-environment schemes that may support viable wildlife populations alongside food production, and we have a several projects on-going in this area. For example:
a) Do agri-environment schemes work?
These are financial incentives paid by Governments for farmers to adopt environmentally-sensitive agricultural practices on their land aim to counteract the negative effects of intensive agriculture on biodiversity. However, most agri-environment schemes (AES) are largely designed for birds, some invertebrates and floral species, and there is little information on the contribution that current AES prescriptions make for other taxa. We have been working to assess the benefits provided by AES to bats (and their insect prey), moths and bumblebees.
Examples of relevant publications:
Fuentes-Montemayor E, Goulson D & Park KJ (2011). Pipistrelle bats and their prey do not benefit from four widely applied agri-environment management prescriptions. Biological Conservation 9: 2233-2246
Fuentes-Montemayor E, Goulson D & Park KJ (2011). The effectiveness of agri-environment schemes for the conservation of farmland moths: assessing the importance of a landscape-scale management approach. Journal of Applied Ecology 48: 532-542.
Lye GC, Park KJ, Osborne J, Holland J & Goulson D (2009). Assessing the value of Rural Stewardship schemes for providing foraging resources and nesting habitat for bumblebee queens (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Biological Conservation 142: 2023–2032.
b) Improving upland grassland systems for breeding waders
Until relatively recently, the breeding wader community of marginal, upland farmland was thought to have escaped the losses witnessed in lowland England and Wales, and Scotland is now critically important in supporting UK populations of breeding waders. However, more recent declines in such marginal upland areas have been identified, with, for example, losses of 48% of Lapwings and 55% of Curlews. Although there is evidence that agri-environment scheme (AES) management directed at waders can reverse population declines at field and farm scales in Scotland, implementation has been far too limited to stem ongoing declines nationally.
In light of such severe declines, observations of unusually high lapwing densities on a livestock farm near Stirling has led to a collaborative project between Stirling and RSPB Scotland to determine the environmental drivers behind these localised high densities and how these are influenced by farm management. Management involves a combination of different activities, including planting of a fodder crop and liming, and is undertaken as part of the core farm business rather than under agri-environment support, and the farmer at this site won an RSPB Nature of Scotland award (2012) for his work. A follow up project is now examining how the benefits of such management can be most effectively applied at other sites, funded by Scottish Natural Heritage, RSPB Scotland and University of Stirling. For more details click here.
c) How do we prioritise conservation efforts to restore functioning ecological networks?
In this project we are using woodlands to address questions about the relative impact of local versus landscape scale actions to increasing habitat area versus improving connectivity on different species. Woodlands provide essential ecosystem services and in the UK they support more wildlife species than any other habitat. Historic deforestation has drastically reduced our woodland cover and much of it now consists of non-native plantations or small, isolated and degraded patches immersed in an agricultural matrix that dominates the landscape. Recent woodland creation schemes were introduced over 25 years ago and are contributing to the slow return of wooded landscapes within the UK but we currently have little information on how these schemes are performing – as part of Woodland Creation and Ecological Networks (WrEN) we are addressing questions about how to prioritise efforts for conservation given limited resources For more details click here.
Examples of relevant publications:
Fuentes-Montemayor E, Goulson D, Cavin L, Wallace JM & Park KJ (2013). Fragmented woodlands in agricultural landscapes: the influence of woodland character and landscape context on bats and their insect prey. Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment 172: 6-15.
Fuentes-Montemayor E, Goulson D, Cavin L, Wallace JM & Park KJ (2012). Factors influencing moth assemblages in woodland fragments on farmland: implications for woodland creation and management schemes. Biological Conservation 153: 265-275.
Currently approximately 70% of woodland in the UK consists of forestry plantations, much of which is intensively managed, using a limited number of exotic fast-growing conifers and employing a variety of silvicultural practices to prepare sites for planting (e.g. ploughing, use of herbicides), thinning and clear-cut harvesting. A common perception of plantation forests is that they are ecological deserts and there is a long standing debate about the potential, and realised, role of plantation forestry in biodiversity conservation. There is now a body of evidence from numerous countries, however, to suggest plantation forests can provide habitat for a wide range of native forest plants, animals, and fungi. In the UK there have been fundamental changes to silvicultural practices over last 30 years as a result of policy changes which have placed a greater emphasis on maximising biodiversity benefits of plantations. There are several projects on-going at Stirling which aim to address ecological and applied conservation questions about the use of plantation forestry by wildlife species including pine marten, bats and other UKBAP priority species. Much of this work is carried out in collaboration with, and funded by, Forest Research and the Forestry Commission. Examples of relevant publications:
Caryl F, Quine C & Park KJ (2012). Marten in the matrix: the importance of non-forested habitats for forest carnivores in fragmented landscapes. Journal of Mammalogy 93: 464-474
Law B, Park KJ & Lacki M (In press). Insectivorous Bats and Silviculture: balancing timber production and bat conservation. In: Bats in the Anthropocene: Conservation of bats in a changing world (eds. Voigt, C.C., Kingston, T.).
Urbanisation is a major driver of the global loss of biodiversity the rate of urban expansion continues to accelerate. Green spaces within urban areas (e.g. parks, gardens) can hold relatively rich wildlife communities but are often threatened by development. In order to mitigate the adverse effects of urbanisation it is essential to understand what drives species’ patterns of habitat use within the urban matrix and what mitigation may promote population persistence. Projects on urban ecology and conservation at Stirling have used a range of wildlife taxa which with to address these broad questions, including bats, bumblebees and moths.
Image above shows the landscape surrounding an urban woodland in central Scotland classified into broad habitat categories
Examples of relevant publications:
Lintott PR, Bunnefeld N, Fuentes-Montemayor E, Minderman J, Mayhew R, Olley L & Park KJ (2014). City life makes females fussy: sex differences in habitat use of temperate bats in urban areas. Royal Society Open Science. Available here.
Lintott P, Minderman J, Fuentes-Montemayor E, Blackmore L, Bunnefeld N, Goulson D & Park KJ (2014). Moth species richness, abundance and diversity in fragmented urban woodlands: implications for conservation and management strategies. Biodiversity & Conservation 23: 2875-2901.
Lye GC, Osborne JL, Park KJ & Goulson D. (2012). Using citizen science to monitor Bombus populations in the UK: nesting ecology and relative abundance in the urban environment. Journal of Insect Conservation.
The wind energy sector is growing worldwide and large scale wind farms have been shown, in some situations, to have significant adverse effects on wildlife. There has been little work, however, on the rapidly growing sector of small wind turbines. Research is underway at University of Stirling to better understand the effects that small wind turbines have on birds and bats, and how they may be mitigated. To achieve these aims, we use a multidisciplinary approach including field studies, experiments, questionnaires of owners and planning officers, and public attitude surveys using choice experiments. For more information on this project click here.
Examples of relevant publications:
Minderman J, Fuentes-Montemayor E, Pearce-Higgins JW, Pendlebury CJ & Park KJ (In press). Estimates and correlates of bird and bat mortality at small wind turbine sites. Biodiversity & Conservation.
Park KJ, Turner A & Minderman J (2013). Integrating applied ecology and planning policy: the case of micro-turbines and wildlife conservation. Journal of Applied Ecology 50: 199-204.
Minderman J, Pendlebury CJ, Pearce-Higgins JW & Park KJ (2012) Experimental evidence for the effect of small wind turbine proximity and operation on bird and bat activity. PLoS One 7(7): e41177. doi:10.1371/journal.pone
I also have research interests in several other areas including the effect of endocrine disrupting chemicals on wildlife, impacts and control of non-native invasive species and human-wildlife conflicts. I am a trustee for the Bat Conservation Trust, the UK's only dedicated charity for bat conservation, Chair of the Board for Bats without Borders, a charity working across southern Africa to conserve bat populations, and a member of the Mammal Society's Scientific Advisory Committee.
Research group members
I also co-supervise the following students: Ciaran Ellis (Biodiversity and risk management for sustainable pollination services), Hannah Feltham (Factors influencing pollination limitation and yield), and Rebecca Mayhew (The species and functional composition of bird communities in regenerating tropical forests).
I also co-supervised the following students who have now successful completed their PhDs: Gillian Lye (Factors affecting nest site choice and colony success in bumblebees, 2009), Lynne Osgathorpe (Reconciling ecology and economics to conserve bumblebees, 2010), Steph O’Connor (The nesting ecology of bumblebees, 2013), Nicola Redpath (Restoration and management of wildflower-rich machair for the conservation of bumblebees, 2010).
I am the co-ordinator of the Conservation Biology & Management degree and a number conservation-related modules (undergraduate and Masters level), I also teach on an undergraduate field course in France, on vertebrate diversity and a course on advanced analytical techniques.