Dr Kate Ashbrook


Senior Lecturer in Biology

School of Science and the Environment

Biological Sciences

Contact Details

email: k.ashbrook@worc.ac.uk

Dr Kate Ashbrook joined the University of Worcester in January 2015 after four years of post-doctoral studies at the University of Bath. Her research interests focus on using modelling to understand the dynamics of ecological systems and inform conservation management. She works with conservation partners, such as the Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BBCT), to develop evidence-based conservation management strategies and monitoring protocols. Kate is currently supervising two PhD researchers who are using Earth Observation image analysis techniques, including Sentinel-2 satellite data analysis, to investigate animal habitat preferences, from pollinators in UK wildflower meadows to brown bears in Eastern Europe. Her research interests also include promoting biodiversity in managed systems and she works with Dr Duncan Westbury on projects relating to enhancing ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes.

Whilst at the University of Bath, Kate worked with the RSPB, Natural England and the Great Bustard Group in a trial reintroduction of a globally-threatened bird, the Great Bustard, to the UK. Her research during this time ranged from the development of improved captive-rearing and release strategies to using species distribution modelling with remote sensing to inform targeted habitat management.

Her first degree was in Zoology, followed by a period as a field researcher for the Canadian Wildlife Service where she contributed to long-term monitoring of a seabird colony in Nunavut, Canada. Afterwards, she worked for the Department of Psychology at the University of Newcastle as a researcher, investigating learning of foraging cues in birds. For her PhD and in collaboration with the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Kate studied changes in the social interactions and population dynamics of colonial seabirds in response to recent declines in food availability.

Kate is also interested in developing links between the scientific community and the general public and takes part in a variety of biological recording events nationwide, helping to promote education and enjoyment of wildlife for families and children.


News Items

Teaching & Research


Kate teaches on several modules across the BSc Biology programme, including modules covering biological diversity, animal physiology, data analysis and research project design, and parasitology. 


Kate’s current research interests focus on understanding the impacts of habitat change, climate change and species interactions on ecological systems. Kate is a member of the Sustainable Environments Research Group.

Key research areas include:
  • Conservation of threatened species in the UK, particularly invertebrates and birds
  • Invasive alien species
  • Enhancing ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes
  • Impacts of social behaviour on population dynamics under changing environmental conditions 
Member of the Sustainable Environments Research Group:

Postgraduate research

PhD Studentships available at the University of Worcester are advertised on FindAPhD.com. I also welcome any approach from self-funded high achieving graduates that would like to study for a PhD in Behavioural Ecology at the University of Worcester. Topics of particular interest would focus on conservation management of invertebrates, habitat management and the delivery of ecosystem services.

Current postgraduate students:
  • Joe Leaper (PhD student) - Enhancing the environmental sustainability of UK grape growing (Director of Studies)
  • Holly Roberts (MPhil student) - Microplastic pollution levels and ingestion by aquatic invertebrates in UK lakes (Director of Studies)
  • Andrea Tapia (PhD student) - Understanding bumblebee wildflower meadow habitat preferences using multi-scale remote sensing data (Director of Studies)
  • Augustinas Bacys (PhD student) - Potential for recovery of brown bear (Ursus arctos) populations in Lithuania
Completed postgraduate students:
  • Alice Mockford: Enhancing pest regulation by natural enemies in Spanish orange groves
  • Zeus Fierro (PhD student): Sustainable production of sweet cherry: maximizing benefits from ecosystem services
  • Chris Clarke (MRes student): Evaluation of potential release sites for Great Bustard (Otis tarda) around Salisbury Plain


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, 60 (6), pp. 1044 - 1055. [Download]

Mockford, A., Urbaneja, A., Ashbrook, K. & Westbury, D.B. (2023). Developing perennial wildflower strips for use in Mediterranean orchard systems. Ecology and Evolution, 13 (7), e10285. [Download]

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. [Download]

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, 146 (4), pp. 361 - 371. [Download]

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, 317, 107485. [Download]

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

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

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

Comont, R.F. & Ashbrook, K., (2016). Evaluating promotional approaches for citizen science biological recording: bumblebees as a group versus Harmonia axyridis as a flagship for ladybirds. BioControl, 62 (3), pp. 309 - 318 [Download]

Ashbrook, K., Taylor, A., Jane, L., Carter, I. & Székely, T. (2015). Impacts of survival and reproductive success on long-term population viability of reintroduced great bustardsOryx. 50 (4): 583-592    

Gooch, S., Ashbrook, K., Taylor, A. & Székely, T. (2015). Using dietary analysis and habitat selection to inform conservation management of reintroduced Great Bustards Otis tarda in an agricultural landscape. Bird Study. 62:298 - 302

Ashbrook, K., & Székely, T. (2014). Using evidence-based conservation and public engagement in the reintroduction of Great Bustard into the UK. Research Excellence Framework Impact Case Study. Department of Biology & Biochemistry, University of Bath

Williams, T., Taylor, A. Ashbrook, K., Rose, H. & Waters, D. (2013). LIFE+ Project “Reintroducing the Great Bustard Otis tarda to Southern England (LIFE09/NAT/UK/020): Year 3 Summary

Williams, T., Taylor, A. Ashbrook, K., Rose, H. & Waters, D. (2012). LIFE+ Project “Reintroducing the Great Bustard Otis tarda to Southern England (LIFE09/NAT/UK/020): Year 2 Summary

Williams, T., Taylor, A. Ashbrook, K., Rose, H. & Waters, D. (2011). LIFE+ Project “Reintroducing the Great Bustard Otis tarda to Southern England (LIFE09/NAT/UK/020): Year 1 Summary

Ashbrook, K., Wanless, S., Harris, M.P., & Hamer, K.C. (2011). Kleptoparasitism in Common Guillemots Uria aalge at two colonies during a period of poor food availabilitySeabird 24: 83-89

Ashbrook, K., Wanless, S., Harris, M.P., & Hamer, K.C. (2010). Impacts of poor food availability on positive density-dependence in a highly colonial seabird. Proceedings of the Royal Society Biological Sciences: B 277: 2355-2360

Ashbrook, K., Wanless, S., Harris, M.P., & Hamer, K.C. (2008). Hitting the buffers: conspecific aggression undermines benefits of colonial breeding under adverse conditions. Biology Letters 4: 630-633