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WELCOME TO THE

EEC GROUP

Home: Overview

OVERVIEW

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WHAT WE DO

The experimental ecology & conservation group focusses on synthesising information from mathematical models, small-scale experimental systems, and long-term wild population data to learn more about the world around us, and in particular help make decisions about how to best preserve biodiversity into the future.

NOVEL TECHNIQUES

A specific focus is on developing new, exciting, and useful techniques to make the experimental systems we work with more realistic reflections of the world around us.

ITS ALL ABOUT THE BIG PICTURE

But our focus is always on how we can learn more about the natural world without having to carry out invasive or damaging experiments in the field.

Home: Research
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NEWS

The latest news on papers, grants, and members joining the group!

For regular news updates follow us on twitter

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CURRENT PROJECTS

EARLY WARNING SIGNALS

Predicting the fate of biological systems is critical in the light of continued global change, especially in the field of conservation biology where at risk populations must be prioritised to make the most of limited resources. A long running interest of this group is developing warning signals of approach population, community, and ecosystem collapse based on temporal patterns in abundance, trait, and spatial data.

EXPERIMENTALLY TESTING CONSERVATION THEORY

Designing optimal conservation strategies is key in the face of limited funding and ever increasing anthropogenic stresses. A central theme to the group is using experimental systems to test and develop conservation theory.

TRACKING BIODIVERSITY CHANGE

Understanding whether biodiversity is changing is critical if we are to understand the impacts humanity is having on ecosystems, and whether management interventions are having the desired effects. Our group is working with Bristol City Council to produce a wildlife index to track biodiversity change in Bristol.

THE EFFECTS OF MULTIPLE STRESSORS

The effects of multiple stressors (e.g. including habitat loss, pollution, over harvesting, climatic change, and the introduction of invasive species) on global biodiversity is a continued concern. We are interested in the possible interactive effects of these stressors, and how this may affect populations and communities.

RESILIENCE AND RECOVERY IN FISHERIES

Fisheries are one of the most economic and ecologically important ecosystems on earth. However the vast majority are in a state of significant degradation. We are interested in how such systems might recovery, and the pathways they might take doing so, and how these pathways affect community structure and function.

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PEOPLE

Home: Lab Members
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DR CHRIS CLEMENTS

Group leader

My interests centre on the extinction of species and collapse of populations, topics which I investigate using a combination of mathematical models, microcosm experiments, and analysis of real world population data.

My current interests are on resilience loss and the conservation of species in the face of multiple stressors.

Google scholar profile

DR FRANCESCO CERINI

Post doctoral researcher

My research interests are broad, but mainly revolving around abiotic factors and biotic interactions as structuring forces of species occurrence, distribution and abundance in ecosystems. Also, I am interested in studying the effects of human influence (e.g., habitat and climate modification, pollution, overharvesting) on ecosystem patterns and processes in a conservation framework. I both use local fieldwork data, macroecological approaches and experimental systems to test community assembly processes.


Google scholar 

DONGBO LI

PhD student (University of Bristol)

I am studying the efficiency of wildlife corridors in theory and in practice. I am interested the role of corridors in determining the population growth and stability in microcosm networks and under field conditions, testing whether changing the quality and quantity of corridors can influence population dispersal ability and enhance ecosystem functions. My research would have a better understanding of the importance of wildlife corridors in fragmented habitats.


Google Scholar


Co-supervised with Prof. Jane Memmott.

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DUNCAN O'BRIEN

PhD Student (University of Bristol)

My MSc at the University of Essex has led to research interests involving the feedbacks of evolution and environment in shaping ecosystems and its management implications. I am a PhD student at the University of Bristol, exploring the use of early warning signals in predicting aquatic regime shifts via ecological modelling and analysis of long term data sets.

Google Scholar

EL GRAVES

PhD Student

My background is in veterinary science, but my true passions lay in research and sustainable agricultural, particularly on how agricultural practices impact the environment. My PhD project investigates how agricultural drug residues influence on decomposer species diversity and abundance at a landscape level using computer simulations. 

Co-supervised with Prof. Richard Wall

OLLY HINES

Mres

I am undertaking a Masters by Research in Global Environmental Challenges under the Environmental Change research theme. My research project will be investigating the impact(s) of multiple stressors, specifically climate change, overexploitation and habitat fragmentation, on ecological communities and the risk of extinction to their respective inhabitants. I have particular interests in marine conservation and management practices, sustainability and responses to environmental change. I will be using small-scale microcosm experiments and hope that it will inform discussion on conservation practices.

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YOU?

PhD student

We are advertising for 3 PhD students to start in 2023! 

One on wading birds and resilience loss


Two on rewilding (advert coming soon)

ALUMNI

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DR GAURAV BARUAH

PhD student

Google Scholar

Went on to:
Post-doc at EAWAG

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DR MARC BESSON

Post Doctoral Researcher
Google Scholar

Went on to:
Lectureship at Sorbonne University

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DR POL CAPDEVILA

Post Doctoral Researcher

Google Scholar

Went on to:
PDRA fellowship, University of Barcelona

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ELLIE WOLFE

Mres/Technician

Google Scholar


Went on to:
Work at Natural England

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NATHAN WILLIAMS

Went on to:
PhD at the Bournemouth University

Home: Our Team

PUBLICATIONS

IN PRESS

  • Ledger, S., McRae, L., Loh, J., Almond, R., Boh, M., Clements, C. et al. Past, present, and future of the Living Planet Index. npj Biodiversity, in press.

  • Wolfe, E., Cerini, F., Besson, M., O'Brien, D., Clements, C. Spatiotemporal thermal variation drives diversity trends in experimental landscapes. Journal of Animal Ecology, in press. 

PRE-PRINTS

2023

  • Cerini, F., Childs, D., Clements, C. Timeline to collapse. Nature Ecology and Evolution, early online. 

2022

2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

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THESES

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DATA

In line with the principals of open science and data sharing we are striving to make all the data that our lab group generates available via a github repository. This will take some time, but all data going forward will be uploaded to that site, and data from previous experiments (be that laboratory generated or simulation generated) will be made available as soon as possible.

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CURRENT GRANTS

EFFECTS OF MULTIPLE STRESSORS ON THE GLOBAL DECLINE OF VERTEBRATE POPULATIONS

2020 - 2022

Leverhulme Trust

RPG-2019-368

Read More

TIMELINE TO COLLAPSE

2020 - 2023

THE COHERENCE OF ECOLOGICAL STABILITY AMONG ECOSYSTEMS AND ACROSS ECOLOGICAL SCALES

2020 - 2024

Home: Publications

JOIN THE GROUP

We are always looking for enthusiastic members to join the group, from masters students to post docs. Funding for these are available through a number of channels, depending on the career stage.

Please feel free to contact me any time to discuss the possibility of apply for one of these schemes and joining our team.

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AVAILABLE POSITIONS 

Adverts for funded positions will appear below

IS REWILDING A FEASIBLE LAND MANAGEMENT STRATEGY FOR THE UK?

Deadline: Friday 17th March 2023.

About the Project


Conservation and society are intimately linked; conservation cannot work without the support of societies, and societies can’t function without biodiverse ecosystems. However, biodiversity is continuing to decline, and consequently a new approach to conservation is needed. Rewilding (the restoration of degraded ecosystems through the reintroduction of missing species) has both grabbed and polarised the public, with research suggesting a suite of potential benefits: increasing biodiversity, stimulating local economies (e.g. through tourism), facilitating community health and engagement through access to green spaces, and increasing carbon sequestration. Thus, with careful planning of where and how rewilding is carried out, both biodiversity and deprived rural areas stand to benefit. However, to achieve this requires tensions between local stakeholders (e.g. farmers) and conservation proponents (e.g. rewilding charities) to be resolved. Building a roadmap to achieve this is fundamental for conservation to be successful across the UK over the coming decades, necessitating a strong focus on engaged local communities to improve health, wellbeing, and the environment for a sustainable planet.


This project consists of two linked PhD scholarships: one in social sciences (Human Geography) and one in ecology (Biology). These two PhD’s will run in parallel and feed results into one another, combining ecological habitat suitability modelling and a social survey, along with qualitative research, to identify areas of the UK where, and how, rewilding is both societally supported and ecologically possible. Doing so will:


  • Identify what areas of the UK provide the best initial sites for rewilding

  • Identify the best species to reintroduce into a given area to restore missing functions

  • Identify which areas have the greatest potential social and economic impact from rewilding

  • Understand the challenges and opportunities of rewilding, particularly the tensions and trade-offs with agriculture

Studentship 1 (Ecology, Biological Sciences)


Studentship one will focus on the ecological feasibility of rewilding in the UK. Working primarily with Dr Chris Clements, the student will use species distribution modelling, the student will (1) identify suitable habitat in the UK to reintroduce a range of species covering a range of ecological functions (from predators to ecosystem engineers), (2) identify potential rewilding hotspots – areas where multiple species can be simultaneously reintroduced into the same area, (3) incorporate economic data to identify which of these sites could have the greatest economic benefit to local areas, and (4) integrate the outputs from studentship 2 (social sciences) to give a holistic understanding where rewilding might have positive environmental and social impact.

Studentship 2 (Human Geography, School of Geographical Sciences)


Studentship Two will focus on the socio-cultural, political, and economic challenges and opportunities of rewilding in the UK. Working under the primary supervision of Dr Lauren Blake (Geographical Sciences), this project will explore the tensions and synergies between rewilding and food production/agriculture, including considering its viability, acceptability, and trade-offs. Policy analysis may also be relevant, as well as current trends towards regenerative and agroecological farming. The research will require primarily qualitative approaches (possibly including participatory/creative methods), but some quantitative methods will also be expected (e.g. survey data). As well as empirical, the PhD project should have strong theoretical grounding. The research will require integrating results from studentship 1 to give a holistic understanding of rewilding’s environmental and social potential and feasibility in the UK.


The project will require the postgraduate researcher to cultivate their autonomy over the project’s focus and trajectory. The successful student’s particular interests, background, experience, and expertise will heavily shape both the project focus and methodology accordingly. Applicants’ experience and ideas for moulding the potential of the research should be outlined in the application proposal.

Applications

The deadline to apply is Friday 17th March 2023. Interviews for shortlisted candidates are expected to take place during the weeks of 20th and 27th of March.

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CONTACT US

School of Biological Sciences
University of Bristol
Bristol Life Sciences Building
24 Tyndall Avenue
Bristol

England
BS8 1TQ

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