I am a lecturer in the Department of Biosciences at Swansea University. My specialist areas include: Biodiversity, Ecosystem Functioning, Coastal Ecology, Restoration Ecology

Research in my group is aimed at elucidating how biodiversity and species interactions affect the functioning of ecosystems. We are addressing this across a range of systems including rocky shores, salt marshes, coral reefs and even alpine meadows. Empirical approaches include large-scale surveys, field and mesocosm experiments and meta-analysis.

Our research examines the functional consequences of two different axes of biodiversity: horizontal and vertical diversity. Along the horizontal axis of diversity (i.e. diversity of competing species), we are aiming to help predict the consequences of species extinctions, asking questions including: ‘how do diversity-function relationships change with scale from small experiments to landscapes?’ and ‘does the functional or evolutionary uniqueness of a species predict its importance for ecosystem functioning?’ In terms of vertical diversity (i.e. interactions between species in different trophic levels), we are focusing on cascading effects of non-trophic interactions. Our work in multiple systems is showing that predator extinction can have counterintuitive – yet predictable – effects resulting from the trait-dependent loss of non-trophic (behavioural) interactions.

Our work sits at the interface of pure and applied ecology. While we aim to improve understanding of ecological communities, we anticipate that our ongoing work will help to meet two key gaps in applied ecology: 1) the need to accurately predict how anthropogenic changes to biodiversity will influence ecosystem services; and 2) the need to identify species interactions that will hasten ecosystem recovery and promote resilience, therefore improving the success of ecosystem restoration programs.

Publications

  1. & The Pliocene marine megafauna extinction and its impact on functional diversity. Nature Ecology & Evolution
  2. & Livestock grazing alters multiple ecosystem properties and services in salt marshes: a meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Ecology
  3. & Warming magnifies predation and reduces prey coexistence in a model litter arthropod system. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 284(1851), 20162570
  4. The sign of cascading predator effects varies with prey traits in a detrital system. Journal of Animal Ecology 84(6), 1610-1617.
  5. Does relative abundance modify multiple predator effects?. Basic and Applied Ecology 16(7), 641-651.

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Teaching

  • BIB700 Trends in Biosciences

    In this module you will discover what it takes to be a research scientist and discuss world-leading research with biologists from Universities and research institutes from all over the UK and further afield. You will attend our Biosciences seminar series, generally held every second Thursday, as well as a series of journal clubs and more informal talks, held on the Thursdays in between the biweekly seminars. Following each seminar there will be a group workshop with the speakers where you will to learn to evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in the discipline, and gain a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in Biosciences. For a selection of seminars, you will summarise the research highlights (3 to 5 bullet points, maximum 85 characters) and write an abstract on the research (max 300 words). You will also produce brief, webinar-style presentations and blogs for Swansea BioTalks, the blog for our seminar and journal club series at the Department of Biosciences. These tasks will allow you to fine-tune your communication skills and increase your depth of understanding of the latest research in Biosciences.

  • BIO106 Marine and terrestrial ecology and animal behaviour

    This 20 credit module is divided into two sections and broadly introduces students to the study of animal behaviour and ecological processes in the terrestrial and marine environment. The first 15 lectures focuses on terrestrial and marine ecology, which is the study of the interactions of organisms with their environment. The topic is divided into four key themes: the individual, species interactions, communities and ecosystems and additional introduction to marine ecology The final 10 lectures focus on the evolutionary pressures that drive animal behaviour and give rise to the behavioural adaptations witnessed across the animal kingdom today, from learning and cultural transmission, to anti-predatory mechanisms and migration. The section is concluded with a lecture on human behaviour, determining how we are influenced by the same set of natural regulations that govern our wild counterparts.

  • BIO337 Biodiversity

    Biodiversity (or biological diversity) is the 'variety of life' at all levels of organisation -- from genes to ecosystems. This module will explore the foundational and very latest research exploring spatial and temporal patterns of biodiversity, how biodiversity is related to the functioning of ecosystems, the growing extinction threat, and global strategies to conserve biodiversity.

  • BIZ300 Collective Animal Behaviour

    Animal groups frequently exhibit complex and coordinated behaviours that result from social interactions among individuals. Research in collective animal behaviour attempts to understand the causes, patterns and consequences of these behaviours. This module will showcase the latest developments in the field of collective animal behaviour, first describing the fundamental processes that lead to collective behaviour. We will then working through empirical examples - from insects, fish, birds and mammals (including humans) to elucidate the fundamental principles that underlie collective behaviour across levels of biological organization.

Supervision

  • Entomology: Natural enemy biodiversity and the control of agricultural pests. (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Dr Mike Fowler
  • Biodiversity and resilience of salt marsh ecosystems to climate change (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Dr Mike Fowler
  • The Causes and Consequences of Variation in Different Dimensions of Biodiversity on Rocky Shores (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Dr Mike Fowler
  • 'Examining surface complexity and substrate effects on artificial intertidal structure colonisation' (current)

    Student name:
    MRes
    Other supervisor: Dr James Bull
  • 'The phylogenetic pattern of macroalgal community function' (current)

    Student name:
    MRes
    Other supervisor: Dr James Bull
  • Ecology and Conservation of Sabellaria alveolata reefs. (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Dr James Bull
    Other supervisor: Dr Ruth Callaway
  • Trade-offs between multiple ecosystem services in UK and US salt marshes (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Dr Mike Fowler
  • Untitled (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Dr Ruth Callaway
  • Functional diversity of macroalgae (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Dr James Bull
  • Implications of macroalgal plasticity for coastal ecosystem services under environmental change (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Dr Andrew King
  • Developing sustainable seaweed cultivation in Pembrokeshire (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Prof Kam Tang
  • Untitled (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Prof Kam Tang

Career History

Start Date End Date Position Held Location
2008 Present PhD University of Plymouth
2004 Present MSc Bangor University
2003 Present BSc University of Nottingham