I work on a range of applied ecological projects which focus on biodiversity per se, human related land use and linking the two. I am currently funded to work on a range of problems, for example: (i) DEFRA funded project on the effects of soil compaction on agriculture and biodiversity (2009-2013); (ii) DEFRA funded project to devise a species prioritization method for UK spending on global biodiversity (MAPISCO) (2011-2013); (iii) NERC funded work on the effects of climate change on ground-probing birds; (iv) WPA and private industry funded work investigating the effects of wind farms on birds. I use observations and experiments in the field, controlled laboratory experiments and modelling to understand these (and other) problems. PDFs of my papers can be found at www.ncl.ac.uk/biology/staff/Mark_Whittingham.html
Keen birdwatcher since an early age and strong interest in conservation.
See article in Science in 2005 about being a UK Research Fellow sciencecareers.sciencemag.org/career_development/previous_issues/articles/3500/keys_to_independence_views_from_the_trenches/(parent)/12077
Press article about recent paper on golden plovers and climate change www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050328182234.htm
Press coverage about recent paper by Dr Whittingham in Ecology Letters on farmland birds and conservation strategies www.hero.ac.uk/uk/research/archives/2007/field_reports_Jan.cfm
06/98 – 06/04. Post-doctoral Research Assistant (RA1A), EGI, Oxford University. From 2001-4 I was responsible for the daily running of the Farmland Bird Group reporting directly to Prof. Lord John Krebs.
1992- present. Associate consultant for BSG Environmental Consultants. Carried out 15 Environmental Impact Assessments and also literature reviews.
02/97-06/98 Joint Nature Conservation Committee (Higher Scientific Officer).
Agro-ecology, biodiversity, conservation, foraging ecology and behavioural ecology.
1. Effects of soil compaction on agriculture and biodiversity (2009-2013) (DEFRA).
2. Estimating the independent effects of different components of organic farming on biodiversity (NERC). (PI - Whittingham; co-PI Stephens Durham; Post-doc Dr Ailsa McKenzie).
It is well established that both replacing pristine habitats and increasing agricultural intensification is negatively associated with biodiversity. Agriculture is currently the largest threat to biodiversity of birds globally and is likely to be a major threat to other taxa. Thus understanding how to integrate farming and wildlife together successfully is a major goal to conserve biodiversity. Organic farming is one method that increases biodiversity relative to conventional methods of agriculture and it has recently seen large and sustained growth in developed countries owing, to a large extent, to consumers’ perceptions of the perceived environmental benefits of organic farming. However, despite decades of research the current state of knowledge of the effects of organic farming on biodiversity is that the former promotes the latter, but crucially the relative contributions of different parts of organic farming practice are not known. This problem could be solved with a large scale replicated experiment, but this would be extremely expensive. Instead we are taking a new approach by estimating the independent effect size between each different component of organic farming (e.g. pesticides, spring-sowing) and various different taxa and then comparing across these effect sizes. The review we propose will have implications for organic farming policy and be of relevance more widely in studies aimed at integrating wildlife and farming.
3. Foraging ecology of kestrels on farmland (PhD project sponsored by Natural England).
Despite large increases in grassland margins on farmland kestrel populations have continued to decline. This project aims to identify key habitat requirements of kestrels breeding on lowland farmland and how to best manage those habitats to benefit kestrels.
4. Understanding how soil moisture alters breeding performance of a soil-probing bird (the starling) (2008-2011) (NERC).
5. RELU (Collaborative Conservation in Agri-Environment Schemes) (2010-11) - see - http://www.relu.ac.uk/research/projects/Fourth%20Call/Franks.html
6. The effects of wind turbines on birds (PhD part funded by WPA, 2011-2014).
1. Investigating the effects of wind turnines on bird distribution and behaviour.
2. Understanding the linkages between ecosystem services and biodiversity.
School of Biology research committee member.
SAGE Faculty internal peer-review panel.
Biodiversity and Conservation research group leader. NERC peer-review panel (2007-10).
I am the main supervisor of four PhD students at Newcastle (two started in Autumn 2008, one started in October 2010 and one in April 2011). Co-supervising one NERC PhD student (joint with CEH Lancaster, October 2011-14).
Senior Editor Journal of Applied Ecology (2010-date).
BBSRC David Phillips Research Fellow (2004-9).
Swedish research council (2011)
Editorial board of 'Bird Study' (2005-date), 'Open Ornithology' & 'Open Zoology' (2007-date).
Invited plenary talk at 'Popluations under pressure' conference in March 2007 and keynote speech at IOC in 2010, keynote speech at Conflicts between wildlife and people in Rome, Feb 2011.
External PhD examiner in UK (5) and abroad (1).
2011 "Effects of wind turbines on birds" (PhD part funded by WPA).
2010 RELU grant "Collaboration in agri-environment schemes" (£140k) joint with Dr Jeremy Franks.
2010 NERC studentship "Galliforme conservation in the Himalayas" in collaboration with World Pheasant Association.
2009 4 year DEFRA grant (£700,000 - £176k to Newcastle) to investigate the extent of soil compaction in England and Wales and how it can be potentially be remediated to benefit birds and soil invertebrates.
2009 NERC grant entitled "Estimating the independent effects of different components of organic farming on biodiversity". (£82,000).
2008 NERC studentship departmental quota award - Climate change and bird demography started 1st October 2008 (funded for 3.5 years).
2008 £40,000 from Natural England towards PhD project on kestrels.
2007 £4752 - Catherine Cookson Foundation Grant 'Why do birds prefer organic food?'.
2006 £5000 - Award from BSG for work on windfarms and farmland birds.
2006 £10,000 - Award from English Nature for pilot project on kestrels.
2005 £2200 – Awarded by RSPB for pilot project on stubble management.
2005 NERC CASE studentship with BTO.
2004 £361,000 - Awarded a 5-year BBSRC David Phillips Fellowship. This paid my salary for 5 years (£204,000) and came with a tied grant of £157,000.
2001-4 Jointly awarded 3 DPhil studentships (1 from NERC and 2 from BBSRC) with Sir John Krebs, two from October 2001-2004 and one from October 2003-2006.
2000-3 Involved with two PhD projects and the setting up of a research institute in Nigeria in collaboration with Dr Will Cresswell. This project has so far raised in excess of £150,000.
2001 £230,000 awarded by BBSRC in for three-year project entitled “Testing the trans-situationality of bird-habitat models in agricultural landscapes” (I wrote the proposal and Sir John Krebs was Principal Investigator).
1999 £6000 from English Nature for project entitled “The effect of field margin management on foraging by breeding yellowhammers”.
1999 £750 from the Royal Society to attend a conference in Utah, USA.
1998 £35,000 from the European Commission for EU database work.
1996 £1500 from English Nature for project entitled “Population dynamics of golden plover”.
1991 Awarded £400 travel scholarship by the University of East Anglia for Mexico expedition.
Wind farm work sponsored by ecological consultancy company (BSG).
BIO 1010: Biology In Action.
BIO2020: Experimental Design and Statistics for Biologists (Module Leader).
BIO 2003: Field Identification Skills (Leader of Autumn Bird ID course).
BIO 3194-6: Honours research and other projects (8 this year).
BIO 3012: Conservation Biology Issues.
Degree Programme Director (Environmental Consultancy).
2-3 Masters student research projects per year.
5 PhD students (4 as main supervisor, 1 co-supervised).