PhD topic: “How does large scale native woodland restoration affect biodiversity?”
Across the UK, considerable native woodland creation on open upland moorland is expected over the coming decades, through both governmental and non-governmental initiatives. This is predicted to benefit woodland birds of conservation importance, but impact negatively on moorland species, many of which are themselves also of conservation importance. Much of our knowledge of woodland planting is based upon non-native coniferous woodland, with limited ecological understanding of the impacts of native broadleaved planting.
This project aims to answer a number of key questions relating to such native woodland expansion, including:
- How does the abundance and species richness of woodland and moorland bird communities vary in relation to the configuration, proximity and characteristics of upland native woodland?
- How is the abundance and movement of predators influenced by different configurations of native woodland and open ground?
- How does native woodland expansion in the uplands affect the demographics of a key bird species of open ground, the meadow pipit, an amber listed bird of conservation concern?
- Can the impacts of woodland creation on birds be predicted nationally, by combining site-specific data on densities and diversities with national bird distribution data and targeting maps for woodland creation?
My main research interests are in ornithology; my Masters thesis was an investigation of feeding rates of common crossbill on key conifer species, and my honours project was a population study of the common buzzard Colonsay. Prior to starting my PhD I was a senior ecological consultant, specialising in protected species surveying and impact assessment.