Latest Publications

Mateos Fierro, Z., Garratt, M.P.D., Fountain, M.T., Ashbrook, K.,Westbury, D.B. (2023) The potential of wildflower strips to enhance pollination services in sweet cherry orchards grown under polytunnels. Journal of Applied Ecology.

Image, M., Gardner, E., Clough, Y., Kunin, W.E., Potts, S.G., Smith, H.G., Stone, G.N., Westbury, D.B. & Breeze, T.D. (2022) Which interventions contribute most to the net effect of England’s agri-environment schemes on pollination services? Landscape Ecology. 

Mockford, A., Westbury, D.B., Ashbrook, K., Urbaneja, A., & Tena, A. (2022). Structural heterogeneity of wildflower strips enhances fructose feeding in parasitoids. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 339, 108139.

Milner, V. S., Jones, J. I., Maddock, I., and Bunting, G. (2022) The hyporheic zone as an invertebrate refuge during a fine sediment disturbance event. Ecohydrology. e2450. ISSN 1936-0592.

Mohamed, A., Jin, Zhenhui, Osman, T., Shi, N., Tör, M., Jackson, S. and Hong, Yiguo (2022) Hotspot siRNA confers plant resistance against viral infection. Biology, 11 (5). p. 714. 

The Sustainable Environments Research Group (SERG) was launched in 2020 to bring together colleagues from across the University to deliver excellent research that aligns with the theme of “Sustainable Futures” identified in the University’s Research & Knowledge Exchange Strategy 2020-25, as an Area of Challenge.

The creation of this interdisciplinary research group has strengthened the capacity for effective research collaboration and has increased the potential for colleagues to engage with research that fundamentally brings benefits to people and the planet.

Sustainable Environments” encapsulates any situation where there is potential for environmental impacts to be mitigated and for environmental benefits to be achieved through positive actions in both urban and rural settings. This includes the conservation of a single species through to the management of whole ecosystems enabling subsistence farmers to sustain livelihood benefits. It also encompasses new approaches to food production, the management of natural resources, and the influence of infrastructure on human health and well-being.

Research Themes    

In SERG, colleagues are working within five closely aligned Research Themes, pursuing research that is of direct relevance to stakeholders, including academia, industry and the general public. These are: Food Security, Sustainable Livelihoods, River Science and Uncrewed Aerial Vehicle Surveys, Conservation and management of habitats and species, and Sustainable Places.

Food Security


Since 2010, we have been actively engaged in research underpinning the sustainable production of food. Focus has been on the ecological intensification of modern fruit orchards, the breeding of disease resistant crops, and the early detection and diagnoses of plant diseases. We have provided a platform for knowledge exchange between scientists, growers, and plant breeders/seed companies, and have influenced policy. A key goal has been to reduce the reliance of growers on chemical Plant Protection Products (PPPs) through the development of tools and approaches to support integrated disease and pest management strategies. This research cluster comprises colleagues drawn from the former 'Ecology and Environment Research Group' led by Dr Duncan Westbury.

Current Projects

Professor Mahmut Tör (PI), Co-Is, Dr David Studholme (Exeter), Collaborators, Prof Yiguo Hong (Hangzhou, China), Prof John McDowell (Virginia Tech, USA), 2021-2024, Deciphering pathogenicity and development in obligate downy mildew pathogen using small RNA approach. Funding: BBSRC.

Professor Mahmut Tör (PI), Co-Is, Jane Thomas and Tom Wood (NIAB), Claire Domoney (JIC), 2020-2023, Pulse-Downy Mildew Pathosystem: deploying disease resistance, pathogenomics and microbial biocontrol. Funding: BBSRC.

Dr Duncan Westbury 2021-2024 - Advisor on the use of Cover Crops as part of SHOWCASE working with the University of Reading to investigate synergies between agriculture, biodiversity and ecosystem services to help farmers benefit from biodiversity (EU H2020).


Recently Completed Projects

Alice Mockford (PhD student), Dr Duncan Westbury (Director of Studies) Dr Kate Ashbrook, and Professor Alberto Urbaneja (IVIA, Spain), 2016 –2021. The use of habitat interventions to enhance natural pest regulation services in Spanish citrus orchards. Funding: Waitrose & Partners, Primafruit Ltd, and the University of Worcester.

Zeus Mateos-Fierro (PhD student), Dr Duncan Westbury (Director of Studies) Dr Kate Ashbrook, Dr Michelle Fountain (NIAB-EMR), and Dr Mike Garrett (University of Reading). 2016 –2020. Sustainable production of sweet cherry: maximising benefits from ecosystem services. Funding: Waitrose & Partners, Berry Gardens Ltd, and the University of Worcester.

Professor Mahmut Tör: 2020. Generating molecular markers linked to CVYV resistance in cucumber. Funding: M.Y. Genetik.

Professor Mahmut Tör: 2018. Identifying molecular markers suitable for Frl selection in tomato breeding. Funding: M.Y. Genetik.

Professor Mahmut Tör: 2015. Development of molecular markers tightly linked to Pvr4 gene in pepper using next generation sequencing. Funding: M.Y. Genetik.

Megan McKerchar (PhD student), Dr Duncan Westbury (Director of Studies), Prof. Simon Potts (University of Reading), and Dr Michelle Fountain (NIAB-EMR) 2012-2016. Enhancing pollination and pest regulation services in apple orchards by supplementing floral resources. Funding: Waitrose & Partners, Fruition PO Ltd, and the University of Worcester.

Dr Duncan Westbury: 2010-2014. GHG Platform - Methane Emissions Factors (with the University of Reading). Funding: Defra (Project number AC0115).


Peer-Reviewed Journal Papers

Image, M., Gardner, E., Clough, Y., Kunin, W.E., Potts, S.G., Smith, H.G., Stone, G.N., Westbury, D. B. & Breeze, T.D. (2022) Which interventions contribute most to the net effect of England’s agri-environment schemes on pollination services? Landscape Ecology. 

Mockford, A., Westbury, D. B., Ashbrook, K., Urbaneja, A., & Tena, A. (2022). Structural heterogeneity of wildflower strips enhances fructose feeding in parasitoids. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 339, 108139.

Mohamed, A., Jin, Zhenhui, Osman, T., Shi, N., Tör, M., Jackson, S. and Hong, Yiguo (2022) Hotspot siRNA confers plant resistance against viral infection. Biology, 11 (5). p. 714. ISSN 2079-7737

Mateos Fierro, Z., Garratt, M.P.D., Fountain, M.T., Ashbrook, K. & Westbury, D.B.  (2022) Wild bees are less abundant but show better pollination behaviour for sweet cherry than managed pollinators. Journal of Applied Entomology. pp. 1-11.

Image, M., Gardner, E., Clough, Y., Smith, H.G., Baldrock, K.C.R., Campbell, A., Garratt, M., Gillespie, M.A., Kunin, W.E., McKerchar, Megan, Memmott, J., Potts, S.G., Senapathi, D., Stone, G.M., Wackers, F., Westbury, D.B., Wilby, A., Oliver, T.H. and Breeze, T.D. (2021) Does agri-environment scheme participation in England increase pollinator populations and crop pollination services? Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 325. p. 107755. ISSN 0167-8809.

Kahveci, E., Devran, Z., Ozkaynak, E., Hong, Y., Studholme, D. J. and Tör, M. (2021) Genomic-assisted marker development suitable for CsCvy-1 selection in cucumber breeding. Front. Plant Sci. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2021.691576

Mateos Fierro, Z., Fountain, M.T., Garratt, M.P.D, Ashbrook, K. and Westbury, D.B. (2021) Active management of wildflower strips in commercial sweet cherry orchards enhances natural enemies and pest regulation services. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment. ISSN 0167-8809.

Hutchinson, L.A., Oliver, T.H., Breeze, T.D., Bailes, E.J., Brünjes, L., Campbell, A.J., Erhardt, A., Arjen de Groot, G., Földesi, R., Garcia, D., Goulson, D., Hainaut, H., Hambäck, P.A., Holzschuh, A., Jauker, F., Klatt, B.K., Klein, A-M., Kleijn, D., Kovács-Hostyánszki, A., Krimmer, E., McKerchar, Megan, Miñarro, M., Phillips, B.B., Potts, S.G., Pufal, G., Radzevičiūtė, R., Roberts, S.P.M., Samnegård, U., Schulze, J., Shaw, R.F., Tscharntke, T., Vereecken, N.J., Westbury, D.B., Westphal, C., Wietzke, A., Woodcock, B.A. and Garratt, M.P.D. (2021) Using ecological and field survey data to establish a national list of the wild bee pollinators of crops. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 315 (107447). ISSN 0167-8809.

Senapathi, D., Fründ, J., Albrecht, M., Garratt, M.P.D., Kleijn, D., Pickles, B.J., Potts, S.G., An, J., Andersson, G.K.S., Bänsch, S., Basu, P., Benjamin, F., Bezerra, A.D.M., Bhattacharya, R., Biesmeijer, J.C., Blaauw, B., Blitzer, E.J., Brittain, C.A., Cariveau, D.P., Chakraborty, P., Chatterjee, A., Cusser, S., Danforth, B.N., Degani, E., Freitas, B.M., Garibaldi, L.A., Geslin, B., De Groot, G.A., Harrison, T., Howlett, B., Isaacs, R., Jha, S., Klatt, B., Krewenka, K., Leigh, S., Lindström, S.A.M., Mandelik, Y., Mckerchar, Megan, Park, M., Pisanty, G., Rader, R., Reemer, M., Rundlöf, M., Smith, B., Smith, H.G., Silva, P.N., Steffan-Dewenter, I., Tscharntke, T., Webber, S., Westbury, D.B., Westphal, C., Wickens, J.B., Wickens, V.J., Winfree, R., Zhang, H. and Klein, A.M. (2021) Wild insect diversity increases inter-annual stability in global crop pollinator communities. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 288: 20210212.

Albrecht M., Kleijn D., Williams N.M., Tschumi M., Blaauw B.R., Bommarco R., Campbell A.J., Dainese M., Drummond F.A., Entling M.H., Ganser D., de Groot G.A., Goulson D., Grab H., Hamilton H., Herzog F., Isaacs R., Jacot K., Jeanneret P., Jonsson M., Knop E., Kremen C., Landis D.A., Loeb G.M., Marini L., McKerchar M., Morandin L., Pfister S.C., Potts S.G., Rundlof M., Sardinas H., Sciligo A., Thies C., Tscharntke T., Venturini E., Veromann E., Vollhardt I.M.G., Wackers F., Ward K., Westbury, D.B., Wilby A., Woltz M., Wratten S. & Sutter L. (2020). The effectiveness of flower strips and hedgerows on pest control, pollination services and crop yield: a quantitative synthesis. Ecology Letters, 23, 1488-1498.

Telli, O., Jimenez-Guiros, C., McDowell, JM and Tör, M (2020) Effect of light and darkness on the growth and development of downy mildew pathogen Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis. Plant Pathology 2020; 69: 1291-1300

McKerchar, M., Potts, S.G., Fountain, M.T., Garratt, M.P.D., and Westbury, D.B. (2020) The potential for wildflower interventions to enhance natural enemies and pollinators in commercial apple orchards is limited by other management practices. Agriculture, Ecosystems, & Environment, 301.

Gardner, E., Breeze, T.D., Clough, Y., Baldock, K.C.R., Campbell, A., Garratt, M., Gillespie, M.A.K., Kunin, W.E., Mckerchar, Megan, Memmott, J., Potts, S.G., Senapathi, D., Stone, G.N., Wäckers, F., Westbury, D.B., Wilby, A. & Oliver, T.H. (2020) Reliably predicting pollinator abundance: challenges of calibrating process-based ecological models. Methods in Ecology and Evolution  11 (12), 1673-1689.

Yuan, C.,Li, H.,Chen, Q., Xu, X., Zhang, X., Jin, Z., He, M., Shi, N., Xue, D., Wang, H., Jackson, S., He, Y., Tör, M., Liu, Y., Qin, C. and Hong, Y. (2020)⁠ A foxtail mosaic virus-induced flowering (FoMViF) assay in monocotyledonous crops. Journal of Experimental Botany.

Lai,T., Wang, X., Ye, B., Jin, M., Chen, W., Wang, Y., Zhou, Y., Blanks, A., Gu, M., Zhang, P., Li, C., Wang, W., Liu, Y., Gallusci,P., Tör, M. and Hong, Y. (2020) Characterization of LeSPL-CNR and its functional relevance to cell death and fruit ripening in tomato. Journal of Experimental Botany.

Zhang, X., Kang, L., Zhang, Q., Meng, Q., Pan, Y., Yu, Z., Shi, N., Jackson, S., Zhang, X., Wang, H., Tör, M. and Hong, Y. (2020) An RNAi suppressor activates in planta virus-mediated gene editing. Functional and Integrative Genomics. DOI: 10.1007/s10142-019-00730-y.

Bilir, Ö., Telli, O. Norman, C., Budak, H., Hong, Y. and Tör, M. (2019) Small RNA inhibits infection by downy mildew pathogen Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis. MPP 20:1523-1534. doi: 10.1111/mpp.12863.

Zhang, X., Laia, T.,Zhanga, P., Zhangb, X., Yuana, C., Jina, Z.,Lia, H., Yua, Z., Qina, C., Tör, M., Mab, P., Cheng, Q., Hong, Y. (2019) Mini review: Revisiting mobile RNA silencing in plants. Plant Science 278: 113-117. 10.1016/j.plantsci.2018.10.025.

Devran, Z., Kahveci, E., Hong, Y., Studholme, D. J. and Tör, M. (2018) Identifying molecular markers suitable for Frl selection in tomato breeding. Theor Appl Genet. 131: 2099–2105. 10.1007/s00122-018-3136-0

Woods-Tör, A., Studholme, D. J., Cevik, V., Telli, O., Holub, E. B. and Tör, M. (2018) A Suppressor/Avirulence Gene Combination in Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis Determines Race Specificity in Arabidopsis thaliana. Front. Plant Sci. 9:265. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2018.00265

Chen, W., Yu, Z., Wang, H., Wu, C., Kong, J., Wang, Z., Zhen, Q., Shi, N., Zhang, P., Zhong, S., Hunter, P., Manning, K., Tör, M. and Hong, Y. (2018) Comparative WGBS identifies genes that influence non-ripe phenotype in tomato epimutant Colourless non-ripening. Sci. China Life Sci. 61: 244-252.

Qin ,C., Li, B., Fan, Y., Zhang, X., Yu, Z., Ryabov, E., Zhao, M., Wang, H., Shi, N., Zhang, P., Jackson, S., Tör, M., Cheng, Q., Liu, Y., Gallusci, P., and Hong, Y. (2017) Roles of Dicer-Like proteins 2 and 4 in Intra- and Intercellular Antiviral Silencing. Plant Physiol. 174: 1067–1081. doi: 10.1104/pp.17.00475.

Tör, M. and Baştaş, K. K. (2017) International Workshop: Plant Health: Challenges and Solutions.  Frontiers Media SA ISBN: ISBN 978-2-88945-218-7

Hicks, D.M., Ouvard, P., Baldock, K.C.R, Baude, M., Goddard, M.A., Kunin, W.E., Mitschunas, N., Memmott, J., Morse, H., Nikolitsi, M., Osgathorpe, L.M., Potts, S.G., Robertson, K.M., Scott, A.V., Sinclair, F., Westbury, D.B., and Stone, G.N. (2016) Food for pollinators: quantifying the nectar and pollen resources of urban flower meadows. PLOS One (11) 16.

Garratt, M.P.D., Breeze, T.D., Boreux, V., Fountain, M.T., McKerchar, M., Webber, S.M., Coston, D.J., Jenner, N., Dean, R., Westbury, D.B., Biesmeijer, J.C., and Potts, S.G. (2016). Apple pollination: Demand depends on variety and supply depends on pollinator identity. PloS one 11.

Hammond K.J., Humphries D.J., Westbury D.B., Thompson A., Crompton L.A., Kirton P., Green C., and Reynolds, C.K. (2014). The inclusion of forage mixtures in the diet of growing dairy heifers: Impacts on digestion, energy utilisation, and methane emissions. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 197, 88-95.


Conference Papers / Presentations

Telli, O., Hong, Y., McDowell, JM., Studholme, DJ and Tör, M. (2021) Evidence for synchronization of circadian rhythms between a downy mildew pathogen and its plant host. Plant Biology World Wide Summit, July 19-23.

Tör, M. (2019) Keynote Speaker. SIGS and HIGS: investigation into silencing genes in the obligate downy mildew pathogen. International Molecular Plant Protection Congress Adana TURKEY - April 10-13.

Tör, M., Bilir, Ö., Telli, O., John, S., Norman, C., Budak, H., and Hong, Y. (2019) Silencing genes in Arabidopsis downy mildew using exogenously applied small RNAs. In: XVIII International Congress on Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions, July, Glasgow, UK.

Jimenez-Quiros, C., Baysal, Ö., Nicholson, P., and Tör, M. (2019) Bacillus strains modulate immune response, biomass production and flowering time in Arabidopsis and Brachypodium distachyon. XVIII International Congress on Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions, July, Glasgow, UK.

Jimenez-Quiros, C., Baysal, Ö., Studholme, D. J., and Tör, M. (2018) Comparative genomic analysis of three species that have an antagonistic effect on Fusarium graminearum. BSPP Presidential Meeting 10-11 December, Warwick, UK.

Jimenez-Quiros, C., Baysal, Ö., Nicholson, P., and Tör, M. (2018) Determining the antifungal activity of Bacillus species against Fusarium graminearum. Phytopathology 108: 140-140 Supplement: S

Mateos-Fierro, Z., Garratt, M., Fountain, M.T., Ashbrook, K., and Westbury, D.B. (2018) Wildflower strip establishment for the delivery of ecosystem services in sweet cherry orchards. Aspects of Applied Biology: Ecosystem and Habitat Management: Research, Policy, Practice, 139. 179-186.

Telli, O., Studholme, D., and Tör, M. (2016) Role of the Biological Clock on Plant-Pathogen Interactions. 6th Plant Protection Congress, September, Konya, Turkey.

Tör, M. (2016) Invited speaker. Molecular plant-microbe interactions: systems for defence and strategies for attack. Plant Health Meeting, February, Antalya, Turkey.

Tör, M. (2016) Invited speaker. New tools for old profession: Molecular plant breeding. Biotechnology Institute, February, Ankara, Turkey.

Kim, D. S., Tör, M., Cevik, V. and Jones, J. D. G. (2016) Identification of ATR2Cala2 from Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis, an avirulent effector that triggers RPP2-mediated immunity. ICAR, June, Gyengju, South Korea.

Tör, M., Çevik,V., Telli, O., Holub, E.B., Studholme, D. J., and Woods-Tör, A. (2016) Heterozygosity plays a key role in pathogenicity of Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis. In: XVII International Congress on Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions, July, Portland Oregon, USA.


Books / Reports

Tör, M., and Woods-Tör, A. (2017) Fungal and Oomycete Diseases. In Brian Thomas, Brian G Murray and Denis J Murphy (Editors in Chief), Encyclopedia of Applied Plant Sciences, Vol 3, Waltham, MA: Academic Press, pp. 77–82.

Tör, M., and Woods-Tör, A. (2017) Genetic Modification of Disease Resistance: Fungal and Oomycete Pathogens. In Brian Thomas, Brian G Murray and Denis J Murphy (Editors in Chief), Encyclopedia of Applied Plant Sciences, Vol 3, Waltham, MA: Academic Press, pp. 83–87.

Sustainable Livelihoods


Our work explores the interdisciplinary social-ecological relationship between people, wetlands and landscapes throughout Africa, with a particular focus on how adaptive co-management can facilitate sustainable livelihoods and ecosystem services, producing win-win outcomes for the environment and development. Research findings have fed into the policies and practices of international NGOs and government departments, and has directly contributed to poverty alleviation and livelihood resilience across thousands of households in east and southern Africa.  This research cluster comprises colleagues drawn from the former 'Socio-ecological Systems and Sustainability Research Group', led by Dr Alan Dixon.


Current Projects

Dr Alan Dixon: Evaluating the contribution of the FLA to local institutional capacity building for sustainable wetland management in the Kafue sub-basin, Zambia. Funding: Self Help Africa.

Recently Completed Projects

Albert Mvula (PhD student), Dr Alan Dixon (Director of Studies) and Professor Ian Maddock 2017–2021. The social-ecological sustainability of Tiyeni’s deep bed conservation agriculture system in Malawi. Funding: The University of Worcester.

Dr Alan Dixon: 2018. Striking a Balance: Developing a green economy around Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda. Development of training resources for Self Help Africa.

Dr Alan Dixon: 2015. 20 years of wetland management research and policy development in Ethiopia. Funding: University of Worcester.

Dr Alan Dixon and Dr Rachael Carrie: Healthy streams for healthy people: a socio-ecological index for Belize. Funding: Darwin Initiative Scoping Award (with Dr Rachael Carrie).

Dr Alan Dixon: 2014-2017. Social-ecological sustainability of the Functional Landscape Approach in northern Malawi. Funding: University of Worcester.

Dr Alan Dixon: 2014. Functional Landscape Approach (FLA) Training for Self Help Africa / Wetland Action, Northern Province, Zambia.

Dr Alan Dixon: 2012 Functional Landscape Approach (FLA) Training for DISCOVER Programme, Kasungu, Malawi.


Peer-Reviewed Journal Papers

Mvula, A. and Dixon, A.B. (2021) Farmer experiences of Tiyeni’s ‘deep-bed farming’ conservation agriculture system in Malawi. Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems 45, 2, 175-196

Dixon, A.B., Wood A.P. and Hailu, A. (2021) Wetlands in Ethiopia: lessons from 20 years of research, policy and practice. Wetlands, 41 (20). Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems 45, 2, 175-196.

Dixon, A.B., Mvula A and Carrie RC (2020) A Functional Landscape Approach to managing wetland social-ecological systems: Experiences from the Kankhulukulu project in Malawi. Working Paper, The University of Worcester and Wetland Action.

Dixon, A.B. and Carrie, R. (2015) Creating local institutional arrangements for sustainable wetland social-ecological systems: lessons from the ‘Striking a Balance’ project in Malawi. International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology 23, 1, p40-52. 

Conference Papers / Presentations

Dixon, A.B. and Wood A.P. (2018) Implementing a social-ecological landscape approach for wetland management: experiences with sustainable/green infrastructure from east and southern Africa. Keynote presentation at World Water Week, Stockholm, 29th August 2018.

Carrie, R. and Dixon, A.B. (2015) ‘The ‘Functional Landscape Approach’: Building a social-ecological evidence base for its contribution to adaptation and resilience in wetland catchments’. European Geosciences Union, Vienna, 12-17th April 2015.

Books / Reports

Dixon, A.B. (2018) Wetlands. In: Binns, J.A., Lynch, K., and Nel, E. (Eds) The Handbook of African Development. Routledge, London.

Dixon, A.B. (2017) Indigenous management of wetlands: experiences from Ethiopia. Routledge, London.

Wood, A.P., Sutcliffe, P., and Dixon, A.B. (2016) ‘Wetlands of the Baro-Akobo River System in Ethiopia’. In:  Finlayson, C.M., McInnes, R., and Everard, M. (Eds) The Wetland Book, Springer, Netherlands.  

River Science and Uncrewed Aerial Vehicle surveys


Focusing on environmental monitoring and assessment of river systems, the primary interest of our research and consultancy is on methods for measuring, mapping and monitoring the hydromorphological characteristics of rivers. This research cluster comprises colleagues drawn from the former 'River Science Research Group' led by Prof. Ian Maddock.

We specialise in the use of drones (Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles, UAVs) & Terrestrial Laser Scanners (TLS) for ultra-high-resolution remote sensing of river morphology, river discharge and for monitoring soil erosion and sediment delivery to water courses. Surveys are conducted for habitat assessment, river restoration and natural flood management (NFM) projects.

We were one of the first University Departments to use UAVs for environmental remote sensing and have had UK Civil Aviation Authority approved Remote Pilot Qualifications – small (RPQ-s) and a Permission for Commercial Operation (PfCO) since 2011. We use drone imagery with Structure-from-Motion (SfM) photogrammetry to generate landscape surveys and Digital Surface Models (DSMs) and conduct repeat surveys to map and measure landscape change.

Our international experience includes research & consultancy in Chile, Slovenia, Switzerland, USA (California & Alaska) and Australia. We have provided research & scientific policy support to government organisations (e.g. Environment Agency), research institutions (e.g. CEH) & environmental consultancies.


Current Projects

Professor Ian Maddock: 2019-2021. Using drone surveys to assess soil erosion and delivery to river systems in the Wye catchment. Funding: Environment Agency.

Professor Ian Maddock: 2020-2021. High resolution drone surveys of the Wilde Brook, Shropshire. Funding: Slow the Flow Shropshire NFM scheme (a multi-agency consortia).

Sophie Pearce (PhD student), Professor Ian Maddock (Director of Studies), Dr Mark Corbett and Nick Everard (Environment Agency). 2017-2021. Evaluating the use of video imagery from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and fixed sensors for river flow monitoring. Funding: PhD studentship funded by the University of Worcester.

Josie Lynch (PhD student), Professor Ian Maddock (Director of Studies). 2020 -2023. The use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and other remote sensing techniques for soil erosion monitoring and the implementation of natural flood management techniques.

Amritha Nair (PhD student), Dr Fleur Visser (Director of Studies), Professor Ian Maddock and Dr Jonas Schoelynck (University of Antwerp). 2021-2024. Mapping plant stress in submerged aquatic vegetation using very-high and ultra-high resolution multi-spectral imagery and Structure from Motion photogrammetry. Self-funded.

Rebecca Collins (PhD student), Professor Ian Maddock (Director of Studies), Dr Fleur Visser. An evaluation of the use of terrestrial laser scanning for the assessment of riverbank erosion. Self-funded.

Professor Ian Maddock and Sophie Pearce: 2018-2023. UK representatives in the COST16219 Action on Harmonization of UAS techniques for agricultural and natural ecosystems monitoring. Funding: European Union COST Action.

Dr Fleur Visser: 2017 - Developing techniques for mapping of submerged aquatic vegetation in small clear water streams. Funding: University of Worcester.

Dr Fleur Visser co-investigator for Worcestershire Earth Heritage Trust, Herefordshire Wildlife Trust and Herefordshire Amphibian and Reptile Team: 2019 - Conserving Herefordshire’s Ice Age Ponds Project. Funding: National Lottery.

Recently Completed Projects

Professor Ian Maddock and Megan Robertson: 2018-2019. Using drone surveys to assess the effectiveness of Natural Flood Management (NFM) schemes, Herefordshire. Funding: Environment Agency.

Dr Fleur Visser et al.: 2018. Data collection for global collaboration led by Exeter University on ‘Drone photogrammetry for measuring vegetation biomass’. Un-funded.

George Bunting (PhD student), Dr Tory Milner (Director of Studies), Professor Ian Maddock, and Dr Iwan Jones (QMUL): 2015- 019. The influence of fine sediment intrusion on macroinvertebrate communities. Funding: University of Worcester. 


Peer-Reviewed Journal Papers

Dal Sasso, S.F., Pizarro, A., Pearce, S., Maddock, I.P. and Manfreda, S. (2021) Increasing LSPIV performances by exploiting the seeding distribution index at different spatial scales. Journal of Hydrology. 598: 126438.

Perks, M. T., Dal Sasso, S. F., Hauet, A., Pearce, S., Peña-Haro, S., Tauro, F., Grimaldi, S., Hortobágyi B., Jodeau, M., Le Coz, J., Maddock, I.P., Pénard, L. & Manfreda S. (2020) Towards harmonization of image velocimetry techniques for river surface velocity observations. Earth System Science Data. 12: pp.1545-1559.

Cunliffe, A., Anderson, K., Boschetti, F., Brazier, R., Graham, H., Myers-Smith, I., Astor, T., Boer, M., Calvo, L., Clark, P., Cramer, M., Encinas-Lara, M., Escarzaga, S., Fernández-Guisuraga, J., Fisher, A., Gdulová, K., Gillespie, B., Griebel, A., Hanan, N., Hanggito, M., Haselberger, S., Havrilla, C., Heilman, P., Ji, W., Karl, J., Kirchhoff, M., Kraushaar, S., Lyons, M., Marzolff, I., Mauritz, M., McIntire, C., Metzen, D., Méndez-Barroso, L., Power, S., Prošek, J., Sanz-Ablanedo, E., Sauer, K., Schulze-Brüninghoff, D., Šímová, P., Sitch, S., Smit, J., Steele, C., Suárez-Seoane, S., Vargas, S., Villarreal, M., Visser, F., Wachendorf, M., Wirnsberger, H. and Wojcikiewicz, R. (2021) Global application of an unoccupied aerial vehicle photogrammetry protocol for predicting aboveground biomass in non-forest ecosystemsRemote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation. ISSN Electronic: 2056-3485

Pearce, S., Ljubičić, R., Peña-Haro, S., Perks, M., Tauro, F., Pizarro, A., Dal Sasso, S.F., Strelnikova, D., Grimaldi, S., Maddock, I.P., and Paulus, G. (2020) An Evaluation of Image Velocimetry Techniques under Low Flow Conditions and High Seeding Densities Using Unmanned Aerial Systems. Remote Sensing, 12, p.232-256.

Visser, F., Woodget, A., Skellern, A., Forsey, J., Warburton, J., and Johnson, R. (2019) An Evaluation of a Low-cost Pole Aerial Photography (PAP) and Structure from Motion (SfM) Approach for Topographic Surveying of Small Rivers. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 40 (24). pp. 9321-9351. ISSN Print: 0143-1161, Online: 1366-5901

Schoelynck, J., Creëlle, S., Buis, K., De Mulder, T., Emsens, W., Hein, T., Meire, P., Okruszko, T., Preiner, S., Roldan Gonzalez, R., Silinski, A., Temmerman, S., Troch, P., Van Oven, T., Verschoren, V., Visser, F., Wang, C., Wolters, J., and Folkard, A. (2018) What is a macrophyte patch? Patch identification in aquatic ecosystems and guidelines for consistent delineation. Ecohydrology & Hydrobiology, 18 (1). pp. 1-9. ISSN 1642-3593.

Visser F., Buis K., Verschoren, V and Schoelynck J. (2018) Very high resolution remote sensing and Object Based Image Analysis for monitoring of submerged aquatic vegetation in rivers. Hydrobiologia, 812 (1). pp. 157-175. ISSN 0018-8158 Online: 1573-5117.

Wilkes, M.A., Enders, E.C., Silva, A.T., Acreman, M. and Maddock, I.P. (2017) Position choice and swimming costs of juvenile Atlantic salmon salmo salar in turbulent flow. Journal of Ecohydraulics, 2: 16-27.

Woodget, A.S., Austrums, R., Maddock, I.P. and Habit, E., (2017) Drones and digital photogrammetry: From classifications to continuums for monitoring river habitat and hydromorphology. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Water.

Nestler, J.M, Baigun, C. and Maddock, I.P. (2016) Achieving the aquatic ecosystem perspective. Integrating interdisciplinary approaches describe instream ecohydraulic processes. In, Gilvear, D., Greenwood, M. Thoms, M & Wood, P. (Eds) River Science: Research and Applications for the 21st Century. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 84-102.

Wilkes, M.A., Maddock, I.P., Link, O. & Habit, E. (2016) A community-level, mesoscale analysis of fish assemblage structure in shoreline habitats of a large river using multivariate regression trees. River Research and Applications. 32: 652-665.

Woodget A.S., Visser F., Maddock I.P. and Carbonneau P.E. (2016) The accuracy and reliability of traditional surface flow type mapping: Is it time for a new method of characterizing physical river habitat? Rivers Research and Applications 32(9): 1825–1995. DOI: 10.1002/rra.3047


Conference Papers / Presentations

Visser, F. (2018) Remote Sensing Magic: developing tools to make the invisible visible for a range of audiences. RSPSoc Annual Conference, September, Birmingham, UK.

Visser, F., Woodget, A., Skellern, A., Forsey, J., Warburton, J., and Johnson, R. (2017) A multi-platform surveying data comparison: is a ‘camera-on-a-stick’ the new must-have tool for geomorphologists? RSPSoc Annual Conference, September, London, UK.

Visser, F., Buis K., Verschoren, V., and Schoelynck J. (2016) Development of a knowledge driven rule set for classification of submerbed aquatic vegetation (SAV) in a clear water stream: where do you draw the boundaries…? Proceedings of GEOBIA 2016: Solutions and Synergies, 14 - 16 September 2016, University of Twente Faculty of Geo-Information and Earth Observation (ITC).

Woodget, A.S., Visser, F., Maddock, I.P., and Carbonneau, P. (2016) Quantifying fluvial substrate size using hyperspatial resolution UAS imagery and SfM-photogrammetry. Proceedings of the 11th International Symposium on Ecohydraulics, 7-12 February 2016, Melbourne, Australia.

Visser, F., Verschoren, V., Schoelynck, J., and Buis, K. (2016) Visible light imagery versus near infrared imagery for the detection of Submerged Aquatic Vegetation in rivers using Object Based Image Analysis. RSPSoc Annual Conference, September, Nottingham, UK.

Visser, F., Verschoren, V., Schoelynck, J., and Buis, K. (2016). Development of a knowledge driven Rule Set for Classification of Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV) in a Clear Water Stream: Where do you draw the boundaries...? GEOBIA 2016, September, ITC Twente, the Netherlands

Woodget, A.S., Austrums, R., Visser, F., Maddock, I.P., and Carbonneau, P. (2016) Quantifying fluvial substrate size using UAS-SfM derived point clouds. Small Unmanned Aerial Systems for Environmental Research, June, University of Worcester, UK.

Conservation and management of habitats and species


Environmental change due to both land use change and climate change is driving forward the substantial loss of habitats and species. Underpinning the long-term existence and sustainability of many terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems is the appropriate conservation and management of habitats and species, including non-native invasive species. Our research includes species modelling to inform the conservation management of vulnerable bee species, modelling to investigate the dispersal of non-native species, developing habitat creation options under agri-environment schemes, and investigating wild boar ecology and human interactions/conflicts. This research cluster comprises colleagues drawn from the former 'Ecology and Environment Research Group' led by Dr Duncan Westbury.


Current Projects

Holly Roberts (MPhil student), Dr Kate Ashbrook (Director of Studies), and Dr Duncan Westbury 2022-2024. A comparison of microplastic pollution levels and aquatic invertebrate ingestion in UK lakes. Self-funded.

Dr Mike Wheeler: 2021. Sequencing and phylogenetic analysis of Kentish Glory moth (Endromis versicolora) specimens to help with a reintroduction project in the Wyre Forest. Requested by West Midlands Butterfly Conservation. Funding: University of Worcester.

Andrea Tapia (PhD student), Dr Kate Ashbrook (Director of Studies), Dr Fleur Visser, and Dr Richard Comont (Bumblebee Conservation Trust, BBCT) 2021-2024. Understanding bumblebee wildflower meadow habitat preferences using multi-scale remote sensing data. Funding: University of Worcester & BBCT.

Augustinas Bacys (PhD student), Dr John Dutton (Director of Studies), Dr Fleur Visser and Dr Kate Ashbrook: 2020-2023. Potential for recovery of brown bear (Ursus arctos) populations in Lithuania. Self-funded.

Dr Duncan Westbury with the RSPB: 2018-2022 Refining seed plots for turtle doves. Funding: RSPB and Natural England.

Recently Completed Projects

Samantha Law (PhD student), Dr John Dutton (Director of Studies) and Dr Susanne Prankel: 2011- 2019.  An Assessment of the Suitability of Polyspecific Housing for Captive Ring-tailed Lemur (Lemur catta). Self-funded.

Robin Shotton (MRes student), Dr Duncan Westbury, and Dr David Buckingham (RSPB). 2019. The use of solar farms by farmland birds. Funding: Self-funded and RSPB.


Peer-Reviewed Journal Papers

Hunt, R.L., Whiteside, H. & Prankel, S. (2021) Effects of environmental enrichment on dog behaviour: pilot study. Animals, 12, 141.

Law, S., Prankel, S., Schwitzer, C. & Dutton, J. (2021) Inter-specific interactions involving Lemur catta housed in mixed-species exhibits in UK zoos. Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research, 9 (4). 247-258.

Brand, Z. Cloete, Z.W.P & Brown, C.R. (2020) Hatch traits of artificially incubated ostrich eggs as affected by setting position, angle of rotation and season. South African Journal of Animal Science, 50 (4). 607-612.   

Siljamo, P., Ashbrook, K., Comont, R.F., and Skjøth, C.A. (2020) Do atmospheric events explain the arrival of an invasive ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) in the UK? PLoS ONE 15(1): e0219335.

Slater, T.S., Ashbrook, K., and Kriwet, J. (2020) Evolutionary relationships among bullhead sharks (Chondrichthyes, Heterodontiformes). Papers in Palaeontology.  6 (3). pp. 425-437. ISSN 2056-2802

Machaka-Houri, N., Houri, A., Knio, K.M., and Westbury, D.B. (2018) Ecological interactions of the sexually deceptive orchid Orchis galilaea. Journal of Plant Interactions, 13 (1). 315-320.

Comont, R.F. and Ashbrook, K. (2017) Evaluating promotional approaches for citizen science biological recording: bumblebees as a group versus Harmonia axyridis as a flagship for ladybirds. BioControl 62, 309–318.

Westbury, D.B., Woodcock, B.A., Harris, S.J., Brown, V.K., and Potts, S.G. (2017) Buffer strip management to deliver plant and invertebrate resources for farmland birds in agricultural landscapes. Agriculture, Ecosystems, and Environment, 240, 215-223.


Conference Papers / Presentations

Machaka-Houri, N., Houri, A., Westbury, D.B., and Ibrahim, M. (2018) Predicting the potential distribution of Orchis Galilaea in Lebanon using GIS. Proceedings of the 18th International Multidisciplinary Scientific Geoconference, SGEM 2018, Vienna, Austria, pp. 749-756.

Westbury, D.B., Harris, S.J., Brown, V.K., and Potts, S.G. (2018) The influence of seed mix and management on the performance and persistence of sown forbs in buffer strips. Aspects of Applied Biology: Ecosystem and Habitat Management: Research, Policy, Practice, 139. 23-31.

Dutton, J.S. (2018) Wild Boar: issues associated with their re-emergence in the Forest of Dean. Mammal Society Student Conference.

Dutton, J.S. and Clayton H.T. (2014) Managing wild boar, use of evidence and the precautionary principle. BES/FSC Symposium on Conservation Evidence.

Smith D. and Dutton J.S. (2014) Surveying for dormice Muscardinus avellanarius in the canopy of broadleaf woodland. Mammal Society 60th Spring Conference (Poster Presentation).


Reports and Books

Dutton, J.S., Clayton, H.T., and Evans, S.M. (2015) The social aspects of wild boar in the Forest Of Dean. Unpublished report for the Forestry Commission by the University of Worcester. 

Sustainable Places

Aerial view of gardens and walkways

This research area is particularly focused on sustainable rural and urban communities, including the link between infrastructure and human health and well-being. A key aspect of this research is the value of green infrastructure in urban and rural environments due to its role in supporting positive sustainable development outcomes for people and the environment.

We are also engaged with local partnership approaches to the planning and management of cities to support transitions to less environmentally damaging, healthier and more equitable forms of urban living.  For example, a recent project has explored the development of bike-sharing systems to promote cycling as a viable and accessible means of transport in cities, whilst supporting the transition to low-carbon mobility.

We are also exploring the most appropriate ways to promote behavioural and cultural change within organisations to support sustainability. An important aspect of this is to foster links between “campus and community” through the promotion of sustainable activities, and how they can be incorporated into the university curriculum.

Current projects

Dr John Dutton (2020-2021) - An investigation into the nature of urban green infrastructure and its use by terrestrial mammals.

Dr Heather Barrett and Katy Boom (2019 +) - “Woo Bikes”, bike-sharing scheme between Worcester City Council and the University of Worcester.

Dr Alan Dixon (2010 +) - Participatory action research with rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa exploring ways of enhancing green infrastructure through the co-development of a ‘Functional Landscape Approach’.



Barrett, H. and Boom, K. (2019) Woo Bike Share​ - demonstrating​ collaboration between​ curriculum, campus and​ community​, Paper presented at the 4th Sustainability in Higher Education Conference, University of Wales Trinity St David.

Adams, R., Martin, S. and Boom, K. (2018) University culture and sustainability: Designing and implementing an enabling framework. Journal of Cleaner Production171, pp.434-445.

Adams, R., Martin, S. and Boom, K. (2018) A conceptual framework for designing, embedding and monitoring a university sustainability culture. In: Handbook of Sustainability and Social Science Research. World Sustainability. Springer International Publishing, Cham, pp. 465-482. ISBN Print 978-3-319-67121-5; Online 978-3-319-67122-2

Li, P., Boom, K. and Davis, P. (2015) How do limbo dancing, landlords and students’ energy habits link to EfSD: a Student Green Fund case study

Boom, K. and Corbett, W. (2014) Digital Learning for Sustainability - An interactive magazine for students, academics and expert practitioners


SERG Members

NameArea(s) of Distinction

Dr Duncan Westbury

Food Security / 
Conservation and management of habitats and species

Prof. Mahmut Tör

Food Security

Dr Emeka Okechukwu

Food Security

Dr Rob Herbert

Food Security

Dr Chris Brown

Conservation and management of habitats and species

Dr Kate Ashbrook

Conservation and management of habitats and species

Dr John Dutton

Conservation and management of habitats and species / 
Sustainable Places

Dr Susanne Prankel

Conservation and management of habitats and species

Dr Alan Dixon

Sustainable Livelihoods / Food Security / Sustainable Places

Prof. Ian Maddock

River Science and Uncrewed Aerial Vehicle surveys

Dr Fleur Visser

River Science and Uncrewed Aerial Vehicle surveys

Dr Heather Barrett

Sustainable Places

Katy Boom

Sustainable Places

Dr Sian Evans

Sustainable Places


Associate Members

NameArea(s) of Distinction

Dr Beverley Adams-Groom

Sustainable Places / Food Security

Dr Mike Wheeler

Conservation and management of habitats and species

Dr Mary Hanson

Food Security

Dr Richard Comont (BBCT)

Conservation and management of habitats and species

Prof. Stephen Martin (Honorary Professor, UW)

Sustainable Places


Research Students

NameProject Title

Amritha Nair

Mapping stress in submerged aquatic plants using multispectral imagery and Structure from Motion photogrammetry. 

Andrea Tapia-Arenas 

Evaluating remote sensing technology to assess bumblebee habitat quality in open grasslands.

Augustinas Bacys

Potential re-emergence of Brown Bears Ursus arctos in Lithuania and the possible impact on wildlife and people.

Chris Norman

Deciphering the inter-kingdom RNA exchanges in Alternaria-tomato pathosystem.

Daljinder Kaur

Role of small RNAs in Arabidopsis-downy mildew interaction.

Holly Roberts

Comparing microplastic pollution levels and aquatic invertebrate ingestion rates in lakes across the UK.

Josie Lynch

A methodological study testing the accuracy of Uncrewed Aerial Systems (UAS) for monitoring the effects of conservation tillage on soil erosion.

Rebecca Collins

A very high-resolution analysis of the evolution of bank roughness and its influence on river bank erosion and channel change.
Sophie Pearce 

An evaluation of Uncrewed Aerial Systems for river flow measurements.

Recently Completed Research Students

NameThesis Title

Dr Alice Mockford

The use of habitat interventions to enhance natural pest regulation services in Spanish orange orchards

Dr Albert Mvula

The social-ecological sustainability of Tiyeni's deep-bed farming conservation agriculture system in Malawi

Dr Zeus Mateos-Fierro

Sustainable production of sweet cherry: maximising benefits from ecosystem services

Dr Catherine Jimenez-Quiros

Controlling mycotoxin producing fungal pathogen Fusarium graminearum using beneficial microorganisms

Dr Osman Telli

Circadian regulations of effectors in the oomycete pathogen Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis

Dr Megan McKerchar

The effects of wildflowers in apple orchards on pollination and pest regulation services



Current Opportunities

PhD Research

Fully-funded PhD studentships within SERG will be advertised here, but also on


Approaches from self-supporting PhD students are accepted all year round. Topics of interest to SERG focus on our five Areas of Distinction.

Please contact Dr Dixon to express an interest along with an outline of your research ideas.

Visiting Researchers

The University of Worcester runs a scheme for Visiting Researchers. The scheme is aimed at postdoctoral researchers currently based at another (normally overseas) Higher Education Institution, although it may be extended to PhD students if appropriate. SERG welcomes the opportunity to host visiting researchers, particularly when this will complement research activities of the group. Please contact Dr Dixon to express an interest along with an outline of the research you would like to pursue.