Dr Peter Dennis
2006 - Lecturer in Grazing Ecology, Centre for Integrated Research in the Rural Environment, Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences, Aberystwyth University
2002 - 2006 Senior Postdoctoral Research Scientist, Macaulay Institute, Aberdeen
2000 - Honorary Lecturer, University of Aberdeen
1993 - 2002 Postdoctoral Research Scientist, Macaulay Land Use Research Institute, Aberdeen
1990 - 1993 Higher Scientific Officer, NERC Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, Edinburgh
1989 - 1990 Research Fellow, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research/ State Plant Protection Institute, Agricultural University of Norway, Ås, Norway
1985 – 1989

PhD (Farmland Ecology) University of Southampton/ Game Conservancy

Trust, Fordingbridge, Hampshire, UK

1982 – 1985 BSc Hons (Agricultural Zoology), University of Leeds, UK
Profile: Peter Dennis joined IBERS on 25 September after thirteen years of scientific research at the Macaulay Institute, Aberdeen, where he was a Wildlife and Landscape Ecologist, specializing in grazing ecology and entomology. Recent major research activities included the scientific co-ordination of the Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department, Grazing and Upland Bird (GRUB) project. This research addressed long-term ecological effects of changes in upland farming, with emphasis on factors affecting the breeding success of insectivorous birds. Peter was also an Honorary Lecturer at the School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen, teaching “Animal-Plant Interactions” to Honours and Masters Ecology students. He contributed to Local and National Biodiversity Action Plans and also oversaw the biological monitoring of two of the UK Environmental Change Network sites situated in Scotland, culminating in his recent contribution to the EC ALTER-Net (A Long-term Biodiversity, Ecosystem and Awareness Research Network), Network of Excellence Research Activity on “Biodiversity Assessment and Change”. He looks forward to extending his research interests on the interactions of grazing animals with habitats managed for nature conservation and agriculture, especially in the context of a rapidly changing environment, alongside incorporating his research experience into teaching at IBERS.


Responsibilities of current post:

Research collaboration with the University of Wales and Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Bangor as part of the Welsh Assembly Government funded Research and Enterprise Partnership - Centre for Integrated Research in the Rural Environment (CIRRE).

Supervision of PhD studentships:

Stephanie Pilborough “Long term impacts of environmental change on the soils and vegetation of Snowdon”, 2007-2010.

Nacho Villar “Grazing, voles and predation – consequences of land use change in the uplands”, 2005-2008.

Sarah Pendergrass “Developing an analytical framework for sustainable agro-tourism in Scotland”, 2006-2009.

Student personal tutorials.

Teaching in undergraduate modules contributing to conservation and agriculture courses at degree and HND level.

Dissemination of research output via journals, international conferences and end-user consultation.

Supervision of dissertation project students.

Editorial committee member for scientific journals and academic book series.

External examination of PhD and MSc students.

Peer review and editorial duties for scientific publications and research proposals.

Responsibilities in previous post:

Principal Investigator/ Scientific Co-ordinator for scientific research and development projects

Dissemination of research output via journals, international conferences and end-user consultation

Contribute to the strategic development of the MI Ecology of Grazed Ecosystems research programme

Recruitment, training and supervision of support staff and research students

Line manager for 3 PGRAs and 2 temporary research staff

Consultant for external contracts, e.g., Scottish Natural Heritage, English Nature, NTS and RSPB.

Institute representative on regional and national biodiversity committees  

Teaching on Plant-Animal Interactions course at School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen.

Research Interests:

Ecology of grazed ecosystems (especially uplands and savanna)

Insect-plant/ habitat interactions in upland, grazed ecosystems

Biodiversity and ecosystem function, especially moorland, forest and savanna ecosystems

Land use, landscape ecology and the distribution of biodiversity

Trophic interactions of grazing mammals within upland food webs

Recent Research Projects:

Using systematic review methodology to establish an evidence base for implementation of the Environment Agency Wales Climate Change Strategy (NERC KT).

Environmental interactions between alluvial soils, riparian zones and aquatic ecosystems (RIPAL) SEERAD.

Processes and biodiversity in the functioning of ecosystems (PROBECO) SEERAD.

Grazing and upland birds – disentangling habitat structure and food supply (GRUB) SEERAD.

Ecological traits of insects and their responses to changes in vegetation structure caused by grazing herbivores


Environmental Change Network – biological monitoring at Sourhope and Glensaugh Research Stations (ECN) SEERAD- NERC.

A Long-term Biodiversity, Ecosystem and Awareness Research Network (ALTERNET) EU FP 6 Network of Excellence “ALTER-Net Research Activity 2, Task Group 3 Biodiversity Monitoring in the Wider Landscape, co-ordinator”.

Recent consultations and successful tenders:

Economic Valuation of the Benefits of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, defra, 2007-2008.

The effects of cattle on the natural heritage of Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage, 2005.

Biodiversity Monitoring and Assessment, University of South Sumatra – training course, 2006.

Targeted monitoring of atmospheric pollution and climate change impacts on biodiversity, defra, 2005-2006.

Issues for the implementation of land management contracts in Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage, 2004-2005.

An assessment of the effects of cattle on the natural heritage, SNH, 2004-2005.

Design of research methodology to determine the impacts of grazing on lowland heathland, English Nature, 2002- 2003.

Defining farming standards for upland grazing systems, RSPB,  2002.

Options for local biodiversity management in protected areas: the case study of Bulgaria, Macaulay Development Trust, 2002.

Classification of land to reflect the environmental value and difficult farming conditions of upland grazing land, SEERAD, 2001.

EU/UK research on the reduction, regulation and control of the environmental impacts of agriculture, SEERAD, 2001–2002.

Habitat restoration project - Rum National Nature Reserve. Project monitoring and site condition, SNH, 2001–2003.

Production of a handbook on species monitoring methods, Scottish Natural Heritage, ECOSCOPE Conservation/SNH, 1998-1999.