Land Use and Ecosystem Services Research Group (LUES)

The aim of LUES is to deliver evidence, methods and tools which support policymakers and practitioners in their understanding of how land use and climate change affects the biodiversity, resilience and ecosystem services of wooded landscapes now and in the future.

To find out more about our broad research goals and the various projects we work on please visit the LUES research page

Group staff are based in Scotland at Northern Research Station near Edinburgh.

Dr Kevin Watts – Senior Landscape Ecologist & Head of LUES Research Group

Kevin WattsKevin leads and manages a team of around ten researchers within the LUES Research Group at FR. As a landscape ecologist, Kevin is interested in understanding the impact of land use and climate change on the biodiversity and the resilience of wooded landscapes. His work utilises spatial models, tools, indicators and simulations to explore and predict potential impacts of land use and climate change scenarios. This work is coupled with empirical studies on species movement, landscape genetics and field experiments.

Duncan Ray – Senior Ecologist

Duncan RayDuncan helped develop Ecological Site Classification (ESC) producing the first ESC Decision Support System in 2001.  More recently he used ESC to assess the abiotic and biotic impacts of climate change on forests in Britain, and to assess the effect on forest ecosystem service delivery.  His latest work focuses on studying abiotic factors that may predispose oak trees and woodlands to stress in the THAPBI funded project PuRpOsE (Protecting Oak Ecosystems) to understand threats to oak woodlands.

Russell Anderson – Research Scientist

Russell AndersonRussell specialises in the ecology of open habitats, particularly peatlands. His research focuses on how afforesting peat bogs affects the properties of the peat, especially its role as a carbon store. He also works on trialling new methods for restoring peatbog habitats. His work is geared towards supporting the national forestry policy teams on material and tools to support decisions on appropriate future land use for afforested peatbogs.

Shelley Barbour – Spatial Analyst

Shelley BarbourShelley is developing methods for mapping small landscape features (e.g. trees and shrubs) and creating land cover/use maps using earth observation data and object based image analysis. This improvement in the detail, accuracy and precisions of data inputs is enhancing FR’s ability to model and map ecosystem service provision, species distributions and habitat connectivity. She is also exploring the wider applicability of remote sensing data for deriving information on forests and their management.

Dr Chloe Bellamy – Spatial Scientist

Chloe BellamyChloe focusses on developing spatial models and indicators of ecosystem services and species distributions. Her research identifies socio-ecological drivers at local to landscape scales, helping us to us better understand how and why the functioning and use of habitats varies across space and time. The mapped outputs inform the spatial planning and prioritisation of resources in an effort to provide, protect or restore ecosystems that benefit society and provide habitats for priority species.

Dr Stuart MacCallum - Spatial Scientist

Stuart MacCallumStuart is contributing to the development and advancement of climate change impacts and ecosystem service provision. He provides support to a variety of projects, through knowledge and skills in: GIS data analysis, software development, modelling, image processing, and remote sensing.

Dr Darren Moseley – Spatial Ecologist

Darren MoseleyDarren is researching how the spatial arrangement of woodlands and other green spaces can be better planned through consideration of the influences on decision-making. He works closely with Forest Research’s social and economic research group on aspects that affect decision-making on land-use choices, particularly focussing on ecosystem services, woodland expansion, and green infrastructure.

Dr Michal Petr – Climate Change Researcher

Michal PetrMichal’s interdisciplinary research work focuses on a better understanding of climate change risks related to forest ecosystem services, and the influence of uncertainty on forest planning  and decision-making in general. Through his research he investigates, among others, the feasibility of climate change adaptation options for forestry, barriers to climate change adaptation, and quantifies drought risk impacts on the major tree species.

Andrew Rattey – GIS Analyst

Andrew RatteyAndrew is working on the collection, interpretation and analysis of spatial data to inform ecosystem service assessments, with a particular focus on the Strathard project.  He has a background in Ecology and GIS having completed an MSc in both subjects, and has five years’ work experience as a consultant ecologist.

Louise Sing - Spatial Scientist

 Louise SingLouise is exploring the use of ecosystem services for delivering evidence on the effects of alternative forest management and expansion strategies for a range of priority ecosystem services. Her research is focused on the Lochaber Forest District, and contributes to a PhD that she is undertaking at the University of Edinburgh. 

Post-Graduate Students

The Land Use and Ecosystem Services Research Group works in collaboration with a range of institutions to develop post-graduate studentships, including PhDs, EngDs and MSc students.

Current students

- Vanessa Burton is undertaking a NERC E3 PhD at the University of Edinburgh ‘Understanding the influences of land ownership on benefits from woodlands expansion’ (2015-2019). Main supervisor Marc Metzger, FR co-supervisor Darren Moseley.

- Tom Sloan’s research project (2016 – 2019) based at the University of York and funded by the Leverhulme Trust is ‘Quantifying carbon accumulation and loss in afforested peatlands’. Main supervisor Richard Payne, FR co-supervisor Russell Anderson.

- Robin Whytock NERC CASE PhD student at Stirling University ‘Assessing the effects of landscape structure on woodland birds (part of the WrEN project)’ (2014-2017). Main supervisor Kirsty Park, FR co-supervisor Kevin Watts.

- Matthew Greenwell NERC CASE PhD student at Reading University ‘Modelling functional connectivity of butterflies across landscapes using population and genetic data’ (2016-2019). Main supervisor Tom Oliver, FR co–supervisor Kevin Watts.

- Sophie Davison NERC CASE PhD student at Stirling University ‘Does woodland use by foraging bats depend on landscape context? Implications for woodland creation schemes’ (2017-2020). Main supervisor Elisa Fuentes-Montemayor, FR co-supervisor Kevin Watts.

- NERC CASE PhD student at York University ‘Hybridisation, speciation and genetic structure in a woodland specialist’ (2017-2020). Main supervisor Elva Robinson, FR co-supervisors Joan Cottrell & Kevin Watts.

- Valeria Mazzola PhD student at the University of Aberdeen (2016-20) ‘Novel in-situ assessment of CO2 and CH4 fluxes from a forest-to-bog restoration site in Forsinard’. Main FR co-supervisor Georgios Xenakis.

 - Tim Howson PhD student at the University of Leeds ‘The hydrology, hydrochemistry and aquatic carbon flux associated with forest-to-bog restoration’ (2017-21). FR co-supervisor Nadeem Shah. 

- Will Jessop NERC iCASE PhD student at the University of York ‘Creating sustainable forested peatlands’ (2017-2021). Main supervisor Richard Payne, FR co-supervisor Russell Anderson.

Past students

- Duncan Proctor NERC CASE student at York University ‘Functional connectivity in fragmented landscapes: a wood ant case study’ (2013-2016). Main supervisor Elva Robinson, FR co –supervisors Kevin Watts & Joan Cottrell.  

Related pages

Useful sites