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Dr Ali Birkett

Research Coordinator

Ali Birkett

LEC Building



Tel: +44 1524 593713

Research overview

I am fascinated by how organisms interact within an ecosystem, how they respond to environmental change, and the consequences that these responses might have on the ecosystem as a whole. I like to combine experimental and survey techniques to investigate these questions and am especially keen on working at the landscape scale, taking particular pleasure in fieldwork and being outdoors.

I have specific experience of working with insects such as dung beetles and butterflies, and am currently working within the Plant-Soil Interactions lab as a Research Associate with ForestPrime: a comparative experiment to assess the impact of enhanced forest productivity on soil carbon dynamics in temperate and tropical forests. I am also passionate about science communications, in particular on Twitter and contributing to the Sex & Bugs & Rock 'n Roll and Lancaster University’s RCUK-SUPI and Science Hunters outreach and public engagement projects.

Thesis Title

Dung Beetles and Ecosystem Functions in UK Uplands: Predicting Responses to Environmental Change (awarded Lancaster University May 2015)

Thesis Outline

This thesis assessed the roles of climate and land use factors in defining dung beetle distributions in temperate uplands and the mechanisms behind the observed responses to changes in temperature. The implications for upland ecosystem respiration of dung beetle community changes in response to warming were also tested in field conditions. Key findings include providing empirical evidence in support of thermal tolerance as a cause of the uphill range contraction of a species in response to a rising local isotherm and predicting an interactive effect between atmospheric warming and dung beetle functional diversity on future ecosystem respiration.

Supervisors: Dr Rosa Menendez, Dr Alan Blackburn (Lancaster University) and Prof Richard Bardgett (University of Manchester)


PhD in Biological Sciences (awarded May 2015): Lancaster University
Thesis: Dung Beetles and Ecosystem Functions in UK Uplands: Predicting Responses to Environmental Change.

MSc Wildlife Management and Conservation (awarded Distinction 2008): University of Reading
Thesis: The Duke of Burgundy (Hamearis lucina) on the Morecambe Bay Limestones: Habitat Requirements for Success.

BSc Conservation Science with Hons in Conservation Management (Awarded 2:1 Honours 2006): University of Stirling

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