School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Staff Profile

Dr Roy Sanderson

Lecturer in Biological Modelling


Research Interests

My main interests are in modelling complex ecological systems, using multivariate statistical models, simulation and Monte-Carlo techniques, across a wide range of spatio-temporal scales. This includes both plant and invertebrate species assemblages, genomics and proteomics data, as well as population modelling of individual species. The latter has included object-based discrete-event models of invertebrates at the landscape scale, agent-based models and Bayesian methods. Robust models allow one to develop new hypotheses, and undertake virtual experiments 'in silico' that would be impracticable or even impossible 'in vivo'.

Google Scholar

Other Expertise

Experienced in analysis of remote-sensed data, plus geographic information systems (GIS) integrated with statistical and simulation models at multiple scales. Expertise in C++ and R programming, agent-based modelling, spatial statistics, as well as commercial (ESRI ArcGIS) and open source (QGIS, GRASS) GIS software.  Taxonomic expertise in Auchenorrhyncha, Heteroptera, Hymenoptera and Nematoda.

Recent Research

  • Campylobacter infections - human, diet, and environmental and landscape-scale modelling
  • Invertebrate communities associated with fuel-wood willow-coppice
  • Meta-analysis of anti-oxidant compositon of organic and conventional foods
  • GIS modelling of bumblebee populations in agricultural landscapes
  • Modelling the distribution of semi-natural woodlands in Wales
  • Multivariate modelling of the impacts of grazing management
  • Investigation of the impacts of farmyard manure treatments on vegetation community structure
  • Effects of organic and conventional farming on bumblebee behaviour and ecology
  • Biofuel cultivation and effects on long-term invertebrate community composition
  • Studies of the impact of changes in atmospheric pollution levels on human health

Within the School of Natural & Environmental Sciences I am a member of the Biological, Clinical and Environmental Systems Modelling and Ecology and Conservation research groups

Future Research

Multi-scale GIS-based modelling techniques, down to the micro-level, so that soil processes can be simulated. Application of spatio-temporal multivariate statistical methods to both microbial and medical data.

Postgraduate Supervision

  • Liam Butler - Multi-scale modelling of vegetation and environment
  • Siti Md Saad - Modelling of brown rat populations in Northumberland
  • Eli Patterson - Hierarchical modelling of invertebrate assemblages in agricultural landscapes
  • Sophie Derveau – Impact of sub-lethal doses of neonicotinoids on bumblebees
  • Saya Harvey - Restoration of heather communities following clear-felling of Sitka Spruce plantations in Scotland
  • Johnstone Kimanzi - Modelling of roan antelope populations in Kenya
  • Lorna Paterson - Spider communities and vegetation structure on upland moorland


Projects include:

  1. DEFRA – Long-term impacts of willow-coppice biofuels on invertebrate community composition (2013-2014)
  2. EU - meta-analysis of nutritional content of organic and conventional foods (2009-2013)
  3. Leverhulme Trust - Ecology of bumblebees under conventional and organic farming systems (2010-2012)
  4. BBSRC - Impact of mass flowering crops on bumblebees; with Rothamsted Research and Stirling University (2007-2010)
  5. BBSRC - Spatial modelling of bumblebees in agricultural landscapes; with Rothamsted Research and Southampton University (2002-2005)
  6. DEFRA - Environmental impact of grazing systems on heather moorland; with CEH, ADAS, RSPB, SAC, IGER (2002-2007)
  7. DEFRA - Impact of organic manures on semi-natural grasslands; with IGER, ADAS (2005-2008)




Undergraduate Teaching

BIO1010 Biology in Action (20 credits)
BIO2003 Field Identification Skills (10 credits)
BIO2028 Biodiversity, Ecology and Conservation (20 credits - module leader)
BIO3040 Applied Ecology (20 credits - module leader)

Postgraduate Teaching

BIO8006 Field Identification Skills (10 credits)
BIO8014 GIS and Remote Sensing (10 credits - module leader)
BIO8052 Quantitative Methods (10 credits - module leader)
ACE8045 Ecological Survey Techniques (10 credits)
ACE8021 Sustainable Development and Environmental Change (10 credits)

MSc Computational Ecology

We will be launching a new MSc degree in Computational Ecology in October 2018 - details to follow soon.  Contact me  directly if you want further information.