I’m an ecologist with a strong interest in conservation science. The overaching aim of my work is to better understand how human activities impact biological communities and provide evidence-based recommendations to maximise the effectiveness of conservation actions for biodiversity.
My research experience and areas of expertise include:
- Ecology and conservation of small mammals, bats and insects.
- Effects of anthropogenic disturbances (e.g. habitat fragmentation and agricultural intensification) on biodiversity.
- Evaluation of management actions (e.g. habitat creation/restoration and agri-environment schemes) to conserve biodiversity.
- Landscape ecology (influence of landscape structure, land use and land cover changes on biodiversity).
Current research programme:
- “Woodland creation and ecological networks” (WrEN project) My current research project examines the relative importance of alternative conservation actions (e.g. increasing habitat area vs. connectivity) to reconnect fragmented landscapes and create 'ecological networks' (a suite of core habitats connected by buffer zones, corridors and stepping stones that allow species or their propagules to move between them). This project aims to provide urgently needed scientific evidence to underpin conservation actions (such as woodland creation and restoration) and ensure that such actions are implemented in the most effective areas to maximise the conservation outcomes.
Previous research projects:
- “The value of agri-environment schemes and farm woodland for bats and nocturnal insects” My PhD thesis (University of Stirling – UK, funded by CONACYT, Mexico) focused on assessing the potential benefits that bats and their insect prey species gain from the implementation of agri-environment schemes (AES). These 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 AES are largely designed for birds, some invertebrates and floral species, and there is little information on the contribution that current AES prescriptions are making in providing suitable foraging resources for bats. As part of my PhD I also studied the influence of woodland character on bats and nocturnal insects. Woodland is one of the most important habitats for bats, but very little is known about how its character relates to bat abundance and activity levels. Identifying woodland characteristics (related to vegetation structure and patch configuration) associated with high abundance and species richness of bats and their insect prey is extremely important to ensure that AES prescriptions for woodland creation and management meet the requirements of these taxa and effectively contribute to their conservation.
- “Assessing the effectiveness of farm woodland creation schemes for bats” Agri-environment schemes to increase the amount and quality of woodland on agricultural land have been in place in the UK for more than 20 years, but to date there has been very little assessment of their effectiveness to conserve biodiversity. In this project, I worked as a Post-Doctoral Research Assistant (funded by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species) to describe the local character (e.g. vegetation structure) and landscape level attributes (e.g. spatial extent and connectivity) of woodlands created under grant schemes. This information will be compared to existing knowledge on the habitat requirements of bats and their insect prey in order to assess the potential contribution that farm woodlands created under grant schemes are making in providing suitable resources for these taxa. Work on this project is on-going.
Some of my earlier research involved the study of edge effects caused by roads on small mammal populations (MSc dissertation, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México - México) and the ecology and development of rearing techniques of bumblebees (BSc dissertation, Universidad de las Américas - México).
Woodland Creation and Ecological Networks
PI: Professor Kirsty Park
Funded by: Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA)