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Geoff Squire

Staff picture: Geoff Squire
Ecological Sciences
Ecological Sciences
Honorary Associate
+44 (0)344 928 5428 (*)

The James Hutton Institute
Dundee DD2 5DA
Scotland UK

  • Global issues in sustainable systems, ecological resilience, food security and environmental impact (EU, Scottish Government)
  • Gene movement and persistence in higher plants (Defra, EU).
  • Energy cycling, trophic interations and biodiversity (Scottish Government, BBSRC, universities).
  • Integrating European knowledge sets on geneflow, pest management and ecological impact (EU SIGMEA, PURE, AMIGA, etc.).
  • International liaison and advice on food production, biodiversity, biotech crops and geneflow, for example, EFSA (Environmental Risk Assessment Guidelines), World Trade Organisation (GM dispute), European biosafety committees.
  • Coordination of research on Sustainable Crop Systems funded by the Scottish Government.
  • Coordination of the Agroecology research group at the Hutton.
  • EU member states - advice on research on environmental impacts (for example, France, the Netherlands).
  • Visiting Professor, SIMBIOS Centre.
  • UK, Scotland - advice to government and growers on optimising multiple outputs or ecosystem services (e.g. production and environment).
  • LEAF - Linking Environment and Farming through the Institute's LEAF Innovation Centre
  • The Living Field educational and outreach project - sustainable croplands

Current research interests

  • Sustainable systems
    The arable-grass ecosystems of the north-east Atlantic maritime - the ancient croplands around Scotland's coasts - formed the case study of a major project on sustainable food and agriculture (2006-2011) which continues under present government funding. The questions are -  'what is the present state of the system, and how can management ensure its continued existence?' We examine past change in the arable-grass maritime, the present state of soil, biota and agronomy; limitations through declining supplies of nitrogen and phosphorus, soil erosion and loss of biodiversity; and the options for balancing the health of the system with economic offtake. The work involves the most comprehensive status assessment of arable-grass production systems in Europe and has led to the establishment of the Institute's long term research platform - the Centre for Sustainable Cropping. Partners: many colleagues in the Institute; collaborators in SAC, BioSS, MLURI, and many European groups. Funding: Scottish Government; augmented by EU FP6 and FP7.
  • Organism biology
    The biological basis of systems is explored through experiment and modelling. An energy-based approach to carbon and nutrient flows is fused with a 'trait-based' approach to biodiversity and function. The aim is to build a theoretical and practical framework for system design, environmental risk assessment and landscape engineering. Modelling is collaborative with colleagues in the Agroecology Group at the Institute and at BioSS, local universities and european organisations such as the Josef Stefan Institute in Slovenia. Funding: Scottish Government, EU, research councils.

Past research

  • Geneflow and GM environmental risk assessment
    The Institute was among the first to emphasise the 'landscape' dimensions of geneflow among crops, volunteers, ferals and wild relatives. Between 1998 and 2008, and then 2013-2016, research grants supported a multidisciplinary group with the ecological, molecular and biometrical skills to take an international lead, notably through EU projecfts AMIGA (2013-2016) and SIGMEA (2004-07), the latter concentrating on GM coexistence. In parallel, between 1999 and 2005, we were part of the independent scientific consortium that conducted the Farm Scale Evaluations (FSEs) of GM herbicide tolerant crops. The FSEs exposed the urgent need for ecological baselines and criteria against which major innovations should be assessed. Advisory work in geneflow and GM risk continues through the European Food Safety Authority (2010 GM environmental risk assessment guidelines) and research committees on biosafety and GM risk (EU-wide, member states). Original funding: Defra, Scottish Government, research councils, EU.
  • Vegetation dynamics and cross-institute integration
    During the second half of the 1990s, the Scottish Government funded a series of integrative  projects that aimed to bring together the complementary skills and field sites of the Macaulay Institute, BioSS, SAC and SCRI. My responsibilities included coordinating the Vegetation Dynamics Group that brought together mathematical, physiological and molecular skills to achieve a concerted approach to understanding plant communities.  The research formed the basis of a scientific framework for examining the impacts of change on managed systems and led to the development of a 'systems' approach to sustainable agriculture and environment, 2000-2015. Funding: Scottish Government.
  • Tropical crops, food security and climate
    A framework for relating the phenology and growth of tropical crops to weather and climate was the achieved objective of a sustained period of research in the 1970s and 1980s. Periods in the Environmental Physics Group at Nottingham University were interspersed with study in the tropics, first in Malawi (early 1970s), then through visits to various countries of east and central Africa including Zimbabwe and Kenya, to Malaysia (early 1980s) and India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Output included some influential papers on physiological time and temperature and some of the earliest reports and papers on the effects of climate change on crop production in both temperate and tropical production systems. Funding: Nottingham University, Overseas Development Administration (1970s), various world and european funders (1980s).
  • Undergraduate and doctoral A BA in Botany at Oxford (general Biology in Year 1) followed by a PhD in cellular plant physiology at Lancaster University formed the basis of a career in research. The doctorate studies concentrated on the stomatal guard cells and other leaf epidermal cells, working in part with the microscopy group to capture some of the first micrographs of and through stomatal cells (example right of phase contrast microscopy).


  • Squire, G.R. (2020) Modelling biodiversity., In: Bárberi, P. & Moonen, A.-C. (eds.) Reconciling agricultural production with biodiversity conservation. Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing, Cambridge, UK, Chapter 2.
  • Gordon, I.J.; Prins, H.H.T.; Squire, G.R. (eds.) (2016) Food production and nature conservation: conflicts and solutions., Routledge, London, 348pp.
  • Gordon, I.J.; Squire, G.R.; Prins, H.H.T. (2016) Conclusion: Re-engaging agriculture with nature., In: Gordon, I.J., Prins, H.H.T. & Squire, G.R. (ed.). Food Production and Nature Conservation: Conflicts and Solutions. Routledge, London, Chapter 16, 333-342.
  • Squire, G.R.; Hawes, C.; Ianetta, P.P.M.; Karley, A.J.; Begg, G. (2016) Ecosystem services from croplands., In: Brooker, R., Hester, A. & Pakeman, R. (eds.). Ecosystem Services. The James Hutton Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen, pp24-25.
  • Squire, G.R. (2016) Limits to crop production., In: Gordon, I.J., Prins, H.H.T. & Squire, G.R. (ed.). Food Production and Nature Conservation: Conflicts and Solutions. Routledge, London, Chapter 3, pp41-67.
  • Smith, P.; Ashmore, M.; Black, H.I.J.; Burgess, P.; Evans, C.; Hails, R.; Potts, S.; Quine, T.; Thomson, A.; Biesmeijer, K.; Breeze, T.; Broadmeadow, M.; Ferrier, R.C.; Freer, J.; Hansom, J.; Haygarth, P.; Hesketh, H.; Hicks, K.; Johnson, A.; Kay, D.; Kunin, W.; Lilly, A.; May, L.; Memmott, J.; Orr, H.; Pickup, R.; Purse, B.; Squire, G. (2011) Regulating services., In: UK National Ecosystem Assessment. Understanding Nature's Value to Society. Technical Report. Cambridge, UNEP-WCMC, Chapter 14, pp535-596.
  • Squire, G.R.; Lecomte, J.; Hosken, A.; Soukup, J.; Messuan, A. (2010) Contributions of pollen and seed to impurity in crops û a comparison of maize, oilseed rape and beet., Wiley Blackwell, Chichester.
  • Parish, D.M.B.; Hawes, C.; Iannetta, P.P.M.; Squire, G.R. (2009) The contribution of arable weeds to biodiversity., In: Kingely, R. (ed.). Weeds: Management, Economic Impacts and Biology. Nova Publishing, New York, USA, pp61-76.
  • Marshall, B.; Wright, G.M.; Neilson, S.; Wheatley, R.E.; Squire, G.R.; Malecki, S.; Athwal, K.; Taylor, D.; Morrison, J.; Carrie, J.; Anderson, C. (2005) The Living Field CD., Scottish Crop Research Institute, Dundee, 350pp.
  • Squire, G.R.; Charters, Y.; Robertson, A.; Mackay, G.R. (1998) Distribution, persistence and geneflow of oilseed rape in the Tayside study area., In: Frontiers in Environmental Chemistry: Perspectives in Environmental Chemistry. Oxford University Press, New York, 109-114
  • Marshall, B.; Squire, G.R. (1996) Implications of trait variability in resource capture for the spatial dynamics of vegetation., In: Modelling in Applied Biology: Spatial Aspects (eds. E.M. White, L.R. Benjamin, O. Brain, P.J.C. Hamer, M.A. Mugglestone, G. Russell, and C.F.E. Topp). Aspects of Applied Biology, pp181-186

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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.