School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Staff Profile

Dr Janet Simkin

Teaching Fellow

Background

Janet is a plant ecologist with a particular interest in species-rich grasslands and anthropogenic sites such as churchyards and lead mines. Recent projects have included the whin grassland habitat creation scheme on the green roof of The Sill in Northumberland, and ecological studies of heavy metal mines in the North Pennines and Wales. She is also a lichenologist and past President of the British Lichen Society.

As well as teaching plant identification and ecology for Newcastle University, Janet also teaches adult education classes in Botany for the Natural History Society of Northumbria and works with local voluntary groups on a variety of projects.

Research

Current and recent projects include:

Calaminarian grassland

  • ecological study and surveys (plants, bryophytes and lichens) of heavy metal mines and alluvial gravels in the North Pennines and South Tyne catchment, investigating successional changes and the potential for conservation management and habitat creation
  • ecological study and surveys (plants, bryophytes and lichens) of heavy metal mines and alluvial gravels in mid-Wales and Anglesey
  • ecological studies of selected metallophyte plants and lichens, including Minuartia verna, Viola lutea and Peltigera venosa
  • habitat creation trials
  • long term field trial of calaminarian grassland management methods (running since 2002 and monitored annually)
  • long term field trial of spoil heap stabilisation methods, including propagation and reintroduction of Minuartia verna

         (with Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Natural England, Natural Resources Wales, Tyne Rivers Trust, North Pennines AONB, Environment Agency, Coal Authority and others)

Whin grassland

  • ecological study and surveys (plants, bryophytes and lichens) of whin grassland and crag vegetation in Northumberland, investigating successional changes and the potential for conservation management and habitat creation
  • habitat creation trials
  • creation of a whin grassland green roof for The Sill, the new Northumberland National Park visitor centre on Hadrian's Wall

         (with Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Natural England, Northumberland National Park, Peregrini Lindisfarne Landscape Partnership)

Brownfield sites

  • botanical support to the Newcastle University SUCCESS project

Lichens

  • Use of lichen distribution data from the British Lichen Society database to study the effects of environmental changes, particularly atmospheric pollution and changes to land management
  •  Northern England Epiphytic Lichen Survey (NEELS), a project to collect data on the lichen communities on individual trees across the region to investigate climate and pollution drivers, and tree host specificities

        (with CEH and others)

Peatland restoration

  • cotton-grass propagation and reintroduction trial, part of the Flow Moss peatland restoration scheme

        (with North Pennines AONB)


Note: most of this work has been done independently of Newcastle University, and any views expressed are strictly my own.


Teaching

Postgraduate teaching including:

  • Vascular plant Identification
  • Forest Ecology
  • Habitat Assessment (Phase 1 survey, Phase 2 NVC and soil survey)
  • Soil and Land Resources
  • Ecosystem Management
  • Biodiversity Conservation Policy and Practice
  • MSc dissertation projects on various aspects of plant ecology

Undergraduate teaching:

  • Vascular plant identification
  • Lower plants
  • Habitat management
  • UG dissertation projects on plant survey and ecology

Supervision of staff MPhil and PhD projects



Publications