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- Genetics, Evolution & Environment
- Div of Biosciences
- Faculty of Life Sciences
1992-1995 BSc Biology, University of Wales, Bangor.
1995-1996 MSc Biological Computation, University of York.
1997 Teaching Assistant, University of York.
1998-2001 DPhil Theoretical Ecology, University of York.
2001-2006 Postdoctoral Research Associate, NERC Centre for Population Biology, Imperial College London.
2006-2008 NERC Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Sheffield.
2008- Lecturer in Ecology, Unviversity College London.
The theoretical framework for plant ecology is arguably still someway behind that for animal ecology. Whilst neighbourhood interactions have been incorporated into models, incredibly size structure has yet to be added. This is despite strong evidence that shows neighbour size may be at least as important as neighbour identity. (A good big `un will almost always beat a good little `un.)
Key areas of future research
1. My previous work has shown that the distances over which interactions occur are crucial in deciding the outcome of competition. Yet, we still know very little about the distances over which plants interact. One of my aims is to gain a better understanding of the spatial scale of neighbourhood interactions.
2. I will develop theory that it is more relevant to natural communities. One goal is to develop models that incorporate both neighbourhood interactions and size structure. Such a model will be highly non-linear and this means that it is hard to predict a priori the effects of adding in size structure. But this also makes it more interesting.
3. I also want to test more spatial theory via experiment and manipulation of natural communities. There is still a vast body of spatial theory that has yet to be tested.
4. There exists a gulf between theory and empirical research in spatial ecology. Theory almost always talks about long term dynamics, whereas empirical research is often over short time scales. Can equilibrium-based ecological theory and empirical data ever be successfully reconciled?
5. When is it possible to determine the ecological process from the ecological pattern? Often we are faced with snapshots of natural communities in both space and time, and from these snapshots we wish to understand the recent past, and project likely dynamics in the near future. This has a difficult task since many ecological patterns of interest have been shown to be generated by multiple causes. I am interested in finding robust (repeatable) patterns in ecological data that can be used to discern the likely processes that may have created them.
Up to date publication records
I coordinate the Biosciences undergraduate course BIOL2012, Fundamentals in Ecology. I also coordinate a masters-level field-trip to Plymouth; and lecture on ecology and biodiversity in a variety of other undergraduate and graduate courses.