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Green cities: how our decisions affect landscape biodiversity

School of Life Sciences

About the Project

Research Group: Applied Ecology Research Group (AERG) -

Proposed supervisory team
Dr Alvin Helden ()
Dr Tom Ings ()

Smart Cities

Summary of the research project

Land management decisions made at the planning stage and in terms of on-going site management are likely to have major impacts on biodiversity. Each decision has consequences at the local site level for biodiversity, particularly for plants and invertebrates, but in turn this affects animals higher in the food chain such as birds. Although we have some understanding of this, we need to learn more about how the combined effects of local management influences biodiversity at a whole town or city scale. This project will quantify the effect of planning and management decisions on invertebrate and other biodiversity at an urban landscape scale. It will use small-scale experiments, fieldwork and published data to parameterise urban landscape models, designed to inform authorities about options for biodiversity enhancement. Ultimately the research will contribute to the development of future urban areas with improved benefits for wildlife and people.

Small-scale invertebrate sampling will be carried out, together with wider-scale habitat mapping. Sampling data will be brought together, with that from the literature, to parameterise landscape models that will enable alternative management practices to be simulated. It will help to ask questions as to what effects local management decisions will make to the biodiversity of whole urban areas. This will represent a more advanced approach to the growing field of urban biodiversity, much of which has been largely observational.

Where you’ll study

Cambridge (

Next steps

If you wish to be considered for this project, you will need to apply for our Biology PhD ( In the section of the application form entitled ’Outline research proposal’, please quote the above title and include a research proposal.

Funding Notes

This project is self-funded.
Details of studentships for which funding is available are selected by a competitive process and are advertised on our jobs website (View Website) as they become available.

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