I lead the Durham Invasion Science Lab. I am an associate professor at Durham University, in the Biosciences Department. I am also the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Plant-Environment Interactions.
I am a plant community ecologist at heart, and my research focuses on understanding the causes and consequences of invasions by introduced plants. I also have longstanding interests in plant-soil interactions and plant functional traits.
As well as leading a research group in Durham, I regularly contribute to workshops and risk assessments aimed at identifying species posing a high risk of invasion to the UK and elsewhere. I am a nominated member of the NEOBIOTA Council (the European Consortium of scientists and environmental managers who work on biological invasions). In this role, I represent the organization and promote its aims at a national level in the UK.
Before I came to Durham, I was a senior post-doc in Mark van Kleunen’s lab in the University of Konstanz (Germany). In that role, I became a core team member of the Global Naturalized Alien Flora (GloNAF) database project, with colleagues from Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic. Find out more about the GloNAF project here.
I came to Durham in September 2022 to begin a PhD project investigating Bermuda’s vegetation communities; particularly the origin and ecology of the invasive plant species, and the unique communities they form with Bermuda’s indigenous flora in unmanaged habitats. My interests include endangered and invasive species mapping, threatened plant recovery, biodiversity surveys especially in protected areas, island endemics and translating science to policy.
Before coming to Durham, I was a Biodiversity Officer for the Government of Bermuda. This role involved endangered species recovery projects, habitat management, policy work and public outreach and education. Some of my key projects were the IUCN Red Listing of 9 Bermudian endemic plants with RBG Kew, and the Governor Laffan’s Fern recovery project with Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo.
I completed my Master of Science degree in Geography at Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) in Canada. My thesis project was to create a seabed habitat map for Newman Sound fjord using multibeam sonar, video and grab sampling. I then worked for several years as a research associate for MUN’s Marine Habitat Mapping Group, creating seabed habitat maps for Protected Areas in Newfoundland and Labrador.
I am a PhD student investigating how climate change and biotic interactions impact non-native plant success in Norway. Norway is currently home to thousands of non-native plants due to increasing anthropogenic activity and plant trade, which result in economic and ecological impacts. My research aims to understand which factors influence non-native plant success, and I am particularly interested in the enemy release hypothesis and the effects of climate warming. I have carried out various modelling techniques to identify potential risk species to Norway in the future and to test the enemy release hypothesis across herbarium specimens and botanic gardens, and I have set up growth experiments to measure the effect of warming and herbivory on plant growth.
I was in Durham as an Erasmus+ traineeship postgrad. In the DISc Lab, I have been working on two projects. First, I have been studying the change in distribution and frequency of invasive plants, including Himalayan Balsam along the River Wear catchment, from between the 1990s to the present day. Second, I have been combining data from GloNAF and the Global Biotic Interactions (GloBI) search engine to analyze what is known about biotic interactions involving naturalised plants, across the globe.
My first degree project was on pollination in a tristylous species (Lythrum salicaria) where I investigated selection of floral morphs by the pollinators. In my masters I realized the importance of the application of technology to the study of ecosystems. I evaluated a technique for crop classification using satellite images in order to obtain an accurate model for the reconstruction of the historical series of the distribution of herbaceous crops in the habitat of the lesser kestrel.
I am interested in how invasive species alter the behaviour of native animals, and the resulting ecological consequences.
For my PhD, I have been studying the impacts of invasive prickly pear cacti (Opuntia spp.) on wild mammals in Laikipia County, Kenya. As part of this project I created and currently manage Prickly Pear Project Kenya ( https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/peter-dot-stewart/prickly-pear-project-kenya) on Zooniverse.
I also have a general interest in ecological theory and modelling, and occasionally share modelling tutorials (particularly focusing on the probabilistic programming language Stan) on my blog (https://peter-stewart.github.io/posts/).
I am a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Durham. In my research project, I want to understand the interactive effects of climate change and invasive species in cold ecosystems. With a focus on the sub-antarctic island of South Georgia, I am combining field surveys, plant growth experiments and modelling to assess the vulnerability of native ecosystems to invasive plants and invertebrates that may benefit from climate change.
I am originally trained as a sensory and behavioural ecologist with a focus on how the world influences the visual anatomy, ecology and behaviours of insects. I obtained my PhD on the visual ecology of bees in the Vision Group at Lund University (Sweden). I then investigated the eyes and navigation behaviours of dung beetle at the insect lab (Stockholm University). I now have a strong interest in applying fundamental research to conserve and restore nature, with a a broad curiosity for transversal themes such as sensory pollution or climate-mediated behavioural shifts.
PhD student (Lead Supervisor: Prof. Steve Willis, Conservation Ecology Group Durham). Funded by a Royal Commission of the Exhibition 1851 Industrial Fellowship award, and working on biofouling and marine invasion risks arising from global shipping.
Master of Science by Research: 2021-2022
Oana’s project focused on studying the physiological performance of Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) and Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) to simulated warming and drought.
Master of Science by Research: 2021-2022
Ewan’s project involved assessing the effect of plant-soil feedbacks on Himalayan Balsam competitive performance against native plants under simulated warming, and the effects of warming on soil microbial communities.