Biodiversity and ecosystems

The aim of the biodiversity and ecosystem subgroup is to understand how human driven global and local changes impact on the network of interactions between animals, microbes and plants in natural and semi-natural habitats to predict change and develop methods of sustainable management.

Our research is aimed at understanding how ecosystems function and the role that biodiversity plays and how biodiversity is affected by changes in land use and climate.

  • Characterisation and identification of important but knowledge deficient biodiversity groups using contemporary molecular techniques with a focus on fungi.
  • Using a trait based approach to understand how interactions between organisms control how management affects ecosystem function in semi-natural and intensively managed ecosystems.
  • Understanding the ecological impact of diseases (especially tree diseases such as ash die-back and oak decline) and disease vectors on biodiversity and ecosystem function.
  • Developing new methods for biodiversity monitoring.
  • Increasing the resilience of our semi-natural systems (for example, our DiversiTree project).
  • Investigating the effects of nitrogen deposition and climate change on Scottish semi-natural ecosystems (such as our NINE project).
  • Communicating and exchanging knowledge about forest resilience (for example our Tree of Knowledge project)

We work across most terrestrial and some aquatic systems in Scotland, including alpine, moorland, grasslands, arable, coastal, rivers and woodlands.

For further information

Plant Soil Ecologist
Based in Aberdeen
T: +44 (0)344 928 5428 (*)
Ruth Mitchell leads the Biodiversity and Ecosystems Group within the Ecological Sciences Department at the Institute. She also leads the Biodiversity Topic for the Scottish Government Rural Affairs, Food and Environment Strategic Research Programme. She is a plant and soil ecologist with 20 years experience of working on a wide range of applied ecological research projects. Her research focuses on the impact of pressures on above and below ground biodiversity and habitat restoration. Recently she has specialized in assessing the wider environmental impacts of  tree diseases and she is currently leading the Treescapes project DiversiTree. See more at Google Scholar, Research gate, ORCID.