I am an ecologist, specialising in climate change impacts, adaptation and mitigation. I am a Senior Visiting Research Associate at Oxford University but my full time job is at Natural England, the national conservation agency for England, where I lead our climate change work. I also contribute to developing our wider evidence base and conservation strategy.
I joined Natural England in 2009; before this I led a research group at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) at Wallingford, having worked for CEH and its predecessor, the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, since 1992. My interest in climate goes back to my PhD (Cambridge, 1990) research on the way plants change with altitude on mountains and interactions between climate and nutrient supply. I continue to be involved in upland issues, but my interests now span a wide range of habitats. I have had a particular interest in woodlands since 1992, when I established a long-term monitoring programme under the UK Environmental Change Network (ECN) at Wytham Woods, which is owned by Oxford University. This developed into a wider climate change research programme, which has advanced our understanding of the processes controlling carbon dioxide uptake, growth and water loss by trees and how they respond to changing environmental conditions. It is important to understand climate change in a broader context of 'environmental change' and I have also studied the effects of atmospheric nitrogen deposition, changing management and rising woodland deer populations.
In recent years my work has increasingly shifted from studying the impacts of climate change to developing adaptation and mitigation. With this has come increasingly close work with policy-makers and conservation practitioners and this is now central to my role at Natural England.
I continue to have strong links with Oxford, collaborating particularly with Yadvinder Malhi and Pam Berry in the Environmental Change Institute (ECI) and have had several joint research students and grants on climate change related issues. I have taught on the Environmental Change and Management MSc since its inception and supervised various student dissertations.
I was actively involved in developing the National Adaptation Programme for Climate Change and chair a working group on climate change adaptation for biodiversity and ecosystems. I led the development of the UK Climate Change Impacts Report Card on Terrestrial Biodiversity which provides both a detailed review and accessible overview; this was part of the Living With Environmental Change (LWEC) partnership. I am a trustee of the Ecological Continuity Trust, a member of the ECN Scientific and Technical Advisory Group and chair of the newly formed Climate Change Ecology Group of the British Ecological Society.