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.