University of Birmingham
Balancing human and biodiversity needs from agricultural landscapes
- Dr Laura Thomas, University of Birmingham
- Dr Tom Matthews, University of Birmingham
- Professor James Bullock, UK Centre of Ecology and Hydrology
- Professor Matthew Heard, National Trust
- Dr Martin Jung, International Institute for Applied System Analysis
Biodiversity is declining globally, with agricultural expansion and intensification identified as major drivers of these losses. With demand for food increasing, as our population continues to grow, it is important to understand how biodiversity can be supported in agricultural systems, as biodiversity and the ecosystem services they provide are vital for continued agricultural production. During this PhD I will aim to improve understanding of the relationships between functional diversity, landscape complexity and land-use in agricultural systems across a range of taxa and spatial scales.
For the past three years I have worked as an ecologist at a consultancy in Birmingham. I undertook an MRes in Ecosystem and Environmental Change at Imperial College London, where I investigated the response of arthropods to landscape complexity in agricultural systems. My undergraduate degree was in Natural Sciences, specialising in ecology, at the University of Cambridge.
Why did you choose doctoral research?
Working in industry made me appreciate the enjoyment and satisfaction I gained from research relating to biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in agricultural systems, and the importance of applied research to aid decision making in industry. Undertaking a PhD provides an opportunity to return to a research environment and a framework to develop future career aspirations.
Why did you choose CENTA?
There were several aspects that drew me to being a CENTA student, one of the most important was the strong support of a work-life balance, which can be forgotten at times within academia. Also, CENTA provide a range of training opportunities to help the development of skills needed to complete my PhD but also, skills that will be useful in my future career.
I am unsure of my long-term career plans at this stage, however, irrespective of the direction my career takes the skills developed during my PhD will provide a strong foundation for the future.