School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Ecology

Ecology

The Ecology research group at Newcastle University conducts ecological and evolutionary research required to understand and predict the rate of ecosystem change and underpin sustainable management and policy.

Background

We formed the Ecology group in November 2017. It comprises 21 academic members of staff, 12 post-docs and a sizeable cohort of PGR students.

Our group members cover a range of academic roles, including teaching and research, teaching and scholarship, and research. We all share common interests in the natural environment.

Our aims

We have two main aims:

  1. To conduct excellent research in ecology and deliver societal impact.
  2. To deliver excellent research-based teaching in ecology to undergraduates and postgraduates.

Key strengths

We have strengths across many areas:

  • fundamental and applied researchers with international reputations
  • leaders in learning and teaching development
  • a strong track record in impact and engagement with stakeholders and policy-makers

We are interdisciplinary, applied, and, in some cases, develop cutting-edge technology. This includes work in complexity science and environmental genomics.

We collaborate with colleagues from across the University, nationally and internationally and our work has societal impacts.

Research

Our key research areas include:

  • coral reef ecology
  • trophic interactions
  • DNA meta-barcoding
  • ecosystem services
  • deep-sea ecology
  • conservation
  • animal tracking
  • agro-ecology
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Street lights change the natural behaviour of moths and disrupt nocturnal pollination, our research has shown.

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Alan Jamieson's research team has found animals loaded with organic pollutants in the Mariana Trench.

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Our researchers have looked at how elevated ozone affects methane emissions from peatlands.

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We helped develop a framework that can identify small communities of corals that are flourishing against the odds, while so many around the world are dying.

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We've been studying the effect of oak processionary moth caterpillars, an invasive species, on ecosystems.

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We're studying the community structure, functional groups and species distribution in the Kermadec, New Hebrides and Mariana trenches.

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Our Capturing our Coast project helped discover 162 invasive species off the UK’s coast.

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Climate-warming affects farmlands by increasing pests but not their natural predators, resulting in reduced crop yields, our research has revealed.

Using and developing technology

Our research draws on cutting edge technology in several areas. We contribute to novel interpretation and application of these technologies.

They include:

  • stable isotope analysis
  • acoustic monitoring
  • remote seabed mapping
  • ecological modelling
  • population genetics
  • deep-sea imaging
  • next-generation sequencing (NGS) to allow environmental genomics and metagenomics approaches

Research Impact

We have a broad outreach and esteem base. This includes:

We use this expertise to develop postgraduate researchers and early career research staff. A focus on career development is part of group practice. We are the subject of regular media coverage, including:

A video of Alan Jamieson's discovery of new species in the deep ocean.


Teaching

Our academics deliver teaching across many undergraduate and postgraduate taught degree programmes.

Ecology teaching occurs across subjects in the School of Natural and Environmental Sciences. These include Biology, Zoology, Environmental Sciences, Marine Biology, Marine Zoology and Animal Sciences.

Teaching methods

As Ecologists we deliver a range of teaching methods.

These include lectures, workshops, seminars, small group tutorials, laboratory practicals and field teaching.

We lead the delivery of freshwater, marine and terrestrial fieldwork.

Field trips - local and overseas

We run field trips in the North East, from our farms, Blyth Marine Station, and the Dove Marine Laboratory. We host UK residential field courses, in Kielder Forest and Millport on the Isle of Cumbrae.

We lead overseas field courses to Bermuda, Crete, Mexico, Portugal, Thailand and South Africa. We also deliver teaching on-board our Research Vessel, The Princess Royal.

Our students take part in rocky shore surveys during the Millport fieldcourse on the Isle of Cumbrae in Scotland. (c)John Bythell
Our students take part in rocky shore surveys during the Millport fieldcourse on the Isle of Cumbrae in Scotland. (c) John Bythell
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Students watch sea anemone (Actinia equina) aggression trials at Millport. (c) John Bythell

Prominent roles

We hold roles as Degree Programme Directors (DPDs) on the following programmes:

One of our students snorkelling on the coral reefs during our Bermuda fieldcourse.
One of our students snorkelling on the coral reefs during our Bermuda fieldcourse.

Key positions on examination boards

We also hold roles as Chairs of Board of Examiners:

  • Biology and Marine Science undergraduate programmes (Sara Marsham)
  • Kirkley Hall foundation degree partnership (Helen Adamson)
  • Biology and Marine Science postgraduate taught programmes (Clare Fitzsimmons)

Our teaching and scholarship academics have a key role in the group. They ensure our degree programmes are progressive and linked to current research.

Northumberland National Park is a fantastic area to study ecology very close to Newcastle.
Northumberland National Park is a fantastic area to study ecology very close to Newcastle.

Teaching strategy

We strive to improve our teaching delivery. We continuously consider our teaching strategy in line with School, Faculty and University developments. This enhances the educational experience of all our students.

Sara Marsham is the Associate Dean of Learning and Teaching for the Faculty of Science, Agriculture and Engineering. She works closely with our DPDs to represent us on a range of education committees at School, Faculty and University levels.

Students river sampling in the Kielder forest. (c) John Bythell
Students river sampling in the Kielder forest. (c) John Bythell

Publications

You can find all of the Ecology group's publications listed here.

For a link to all our papers click here: https://scholar.google.co.uk/citations?user=pjJE3WUAAAAJ&hl=en

Staff

Our staff boast expertise across a vast array of areas within ecology research.

Group leader

Group leader

Professor Mark Whittingham
Professor of Applied Ecology

Email:
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 6599

 

Researchers

Researchers

Helen Adamson
Lecturer

Email:
Telephone: 0191 208 6915

Dr Per Berggren
Senior Lecturer

Email:
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 5676

Email:
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 8934

Professor John Bythell
Prof of Coral Reef Biology

Email:
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 6674

Dr Jane Delany
Senior Lecturer/Head of Dove Marine Laboratory

Email:
Telephone: +44 191 208 3053 (Dove) OR ++44 191 2226671 (Ridley)

Emeritus Professor Alasdair Edwards
Professor of Coral Reef Ecology

Email:
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 6898

Dr Darren Evans
Reader in Ecology and Conservation

Email:
Telephone: +44 (0)191 2085310

Dr Clare Fitzsimmons
Senior Lecturer

Email:
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 6673

Dr James Guest
ERC Research Fellow

Email:
Telephone: +44 (0)191 2083619

Dr Emmi Hall
Teaching Fellow

Email:
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 3047

Dr Alan Jamieson
Senior Lecturer in Marine Ecology

Email:
Telephone: 01912 085067

Dr Martyn Kurr
Teaching Fellow

Email:
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 5345

Dr Sara Marsham
Senior Lecturer (Teaching and Scholarship)

Email:
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 5868 (Ridley); +44 (0) 191 208 3056 (Dove)

Email:
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 8332

Professor Nick Polunin
Professor of Marine Environmental Science

Email:
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 6675

Dr Gordon Port
Senior Lecturer

Email:
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 6894

Dr Janet Simkin
Teaching Fellow

Email:
Telephone: 0191 208 7435

Email:
Telephone: +44(0)191 208 3059 (Dove) or +44(0)191 208 5282 (Ridley)

Dr Colin Tosh
Lecturer - Ecology, Evolution, Computational Biology

Email:
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 7899

Dr Benjamin Wigham
Lecturer in Marine Biology

Email:
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 7831/3054

Dr Kirsten Wolff
Reader in Evolutionary Genetics

Email:
Telephone: 0191 208 4852

 

Research associates

Nadheer Fazaa
Research Associate

Dr Adriana Humanes Schumann
Research Associate

Email:
Telephone: 9129083619

Dr James Kitson
Research Associate

Email:
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 3641

Dr Thomas Linley
Research Associate

Email:
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 8885

Dr Dan Reed
Research Associate

Dr William Reid
Research Associate

Email:
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 8885

Caroline Rhymer
Research Associate

Dr Ashleigh Tinlin-MacKenzie
Research Associate

Dr Liangliang Yang
Research Associate

Email:
Telephone: +44(0)1912085091

Students

Our postgraduate research students are working on a wide variety of ecology projects.