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How does urbanization affect the abundance and diversity of species?

About This PhD Project

Project Description

This project will focus on the influence of human behaviour on the dynamics and behaviour of species in urban and suburban settings. By altering the environment (e.g. through the formation of gardens) or their behaviour (e.g. providing supplementary food for wildlife, pet ownership), people can alter the behaviour, abundance and diversity of species of conservation interest (e.g. loss of bird diversity in the UK; changes in insect community structure). As we now live in a world where the majority of people live in such environments, the potential for conflict is growing, and as a result the importance of urban ecology is now increasingly recognised. This project will utilise an appropriate group of organisms (e.g. birds, mammals, insects) to allow us to understand and to develop proposals to help mitigate the conflict between urban development and biodiversity and to learn how we best work with local communities to maximise the conservation value of urban habitats. This project can be performed in Reading, or if appropriate, in another urban setting outside of the UK.

The supervisor is Professor of Ecology and Head of the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Reading. He has published extensively on interactions between species.


Relevant recent publications

Hamner, H., Thomas, R.L. & Fellowes, M.D.E. 2016 Provision of supplementary food for wild birds increases local nest predation. Ibis in press.

Orros, M.E. & Fellowes, M.D.E. 2015 Widespread supplementary feeding is key to the return of the red kite (Milvus milvus) to a large UK urban area. Ibis 157, 230-238.

Orros, M.E. & Fellowes, M.D.E. 2015 Wild bird feeding in a large UK urban area: intensity, economics and individuals supported. Acta Ornithologica 50, 53-68.

Smith, L.S. & Fellowes, M.D.E. 2015 The grass-free lawn: floral performance and management implications. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening 14, 490–499.

Smith, L.S. & Fellowes, M.D.E. 2015 The influence of plant species on productivity, ground coverage and floral performance in grass-free lawns. Landscape and Ecological Engineering 11, 249-257.

Orros, M.E., Thomas, R.L., Holloway, G.J. & Fellowes, M.D.E. 2015 Supplementary feeding of wild birds indirectly affects ground beetle populations in suburban gardens. Urban Ecosystems 18, 465-475.

Smith, L.S., Broyles, M.E.J., Larzleer, H.K. & Fellowes, M.D.E. 2015 Adding ecological value to the urban lawnscape: insect abundance and diversity in grass-free lawns. Biodiversity and Conservation, 24, 47-62.

Smith, L.S. & Fellowes, M.D.E. 2014 The grass-free lawn: a diverse plant species approach to the use of lawn space. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening 13, 433-442.

Thomas, R.L., Baker, P.J. & Fellowes, M.D.E. 2014 Ranging behaviour of the domestic cat (Felis catus) in an urban environment. Urban Ecosystems 17, 911-921.

Orros, M.E. & Fellowes, M.D.E. 2014 Characterising supplementary feeding of the reintroduced red kite (Milvus milvus) in the UK. Bird Study 61, 260-263.

Smith, L.S. & Fellowes, M.D.E. 2013 Towards a lawn without grass: the journey of the imperfect lawn and its analogues. Studies in the History of Gardens and Designed Landscapes 33, 157-169.

Thomas, R.L., Fellowes, M.D.E. & Baker, P.J. 2012 Spatio-temporal variation in predation by urban domestic cats (Felis catus) and the acceptability of possible management actions in the UK. PLOS ONE 7: e49369.

Orros, M.E. & Fellowes, M.D.E. 2012 Supplementary feeding of wild birds indirectly affects the local abundance of arthropod prey. Basic and Applied Ecology 13, 286-293.

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