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Ruth Mitchell

Staff picture: Ruth Mitchell
Ecological Sciences
Ecological Sciences
Plant Soil Ecologist
+44 (0)344 928 5428 (*)

The James Hutton Institute
Aberdeen AB15 8QH
Scotland UK


Ruth Mitchell is a plant/soil research scientist within the Ecology Sciences Group at the Institute with 15 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.

See more at Google Scholar, Research gate, ORCID.

Current research interests

Ruth's research focuses on the impact of abiotic and anthropogenic factors on above and below-ground biodiversity and habitat restoration. Most recently Ruth has been working on the potential ecological impacts of the tree disease ash dieback (also known as Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus or Chalara fraxinea).  She lead a team of reachers who identified those species that are most closely associated with ash and therefore are most at risk from ash dieback.  In addition the team identified the unique ecological functioning of ash trees compared to other native trees in the UK and produced a range of tools to aid woodland managers in conserving ash associated biodiversity.  The full report can be found here. Ruth is currently working on the impacts of a decline in Oak Tree health as part of the THABI project PuRpOsE. Additional information on Ruth's work on the ecological impacts of tree diseases and related publications can be found here.

 Ruth has a long standing interested in successional processes and her work on plant-soil interactions studies how changes in land-use (principally tree colonisation on moorland) affects the vegetation, soil chemistry, soil fauna and ecosystem functioning. She co-ordinates a large, long-term experiment studying the impact of tree colonisation on moorland biodiversity and ecosystem processes (MOORCO). Ruth's research on the impact of pressures on biodiversity has focussed on grazing, pollution and climate change. She has worked on over-grazing issues in both moorlands and Atlantic oakwoods and assessed the impact of nitrogen deposition on heather-dominated moorland and on epiphytic lichens and bryophytes in Atlantic oakwoods. Ruth has carried out research on the restoration of a range of habitats resulting in techniques for re-establishment of heathland (both soils and vegetation) following scrub invasion, the establishment of heather on over-grazed moorlands, the restoration of Atlantic Oakwoods and the recovery of epiphytic bryophytes following a reduction in nitrogen pollution.

Ruth is Chair of the British Ecological Society's Scotttish Policy Group


  • Britton, A.; Mitchell, R.; Taylor A., (2016) Cascading effects of nitrogen pollution on biodiversity and ecosystem function in alpine systems., In: Irvine, R.J. (ed.) Biodiversity and Upland Management. The James Hutton Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen, Chapter 10, pp22-23.
  • Mitchell, R.; Hewison, R.; Britton, A.; Pakeman, R.J.; Hester, A., (2016) Long-term changes in Scottish grassland plant communities., In: Pakeman, R.J. (ed.). Grassland Biodiversity. The James Hutton Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen, pp4-5.

  • Pakeman, R.J.; Gimona, A.; Glendell, M.; Yeluripati, J.; Addy, S.; van Hulst, F.; Matthews, K.; Mitchell, R.; Rivington, M., (2018) Climate change, natural capital and adaptation in Scotland’s marginal lands., Report to ClimateXChange, 17pp.
  • Brooker, R.; Mitchell, R.J.; Iason, G.; Stone, D., (2017) The application of resilience to conservation of the natural environment., Resilience 2017 Edinburgh Workshop, Silvan House, Edinburgh, 26 October 2017. Final meeting notes circulated to Workshop attendees and also made available via Theme 1 web pages.
  • Blackstock, K.L.; Brooker, R.; Pakeman, R.J.; Ellis, C.; George, T.; Iason, G.; Gilbert, L.; Artz, R,.R.E.; Irvine, R.J.; McVittie, A.; Newey, S.; Mitchell, R.; Gimona, A.; Fischer, A.; Begg, G.; Maxwell, J., (2017) Ecosystems and Land Use Stakeholders Engagement Group (ELSEG) Workshop Report., Workshop, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh, 20 November 2017.
  • Broome, A.; Mitchell, R.J., (2017) Ecological impacts of ash dieback and mitigation methods., Forestry Commission, Research Note FCRN029.
  • Mitchell, R.J.; Beesley, L.; Donald, C.; Green, G.; Hewison, R.L.; Owen, I.J.; Newman, G.; Sturgeon, F.; White, D.; Williams, E.; Black, H.I.J., (2016) Applying soil indicators at biomonitoring sites., Scottish Environment Protection Agency Commissioned Report No. TT1508, 51pp.
  • Humphreys, E.M.; Gilbert, L.; Furness, R.W.; Littlewood, N.; Mitchell, R.J.; Pakeman, R.; Fuller, R.J.; Calladine, J., (2015) Scoping report to Uist Wader Research: Suggested research programme 2012-2014., Scottish Natural Heritage Commissioned Report No. 497.
  • Calladine, J.; Gilbert, L.; Humphreys, E.M.; Fuller, R.J.; Robinson, R.A.; Littlewood, N.A.; Mitchell, R.J.; Pakeman, R.J.; Furness, R.W., (2015) Predation studies on breeding waders of the Uist machair: Final report covering fieldwork undertaken in 2012-2014., Scottish Natural Heritage Commissioned Report No. 811.
  • Jones, L.; Hall, J.; Strachan, I.; Field, C.; Rowe, E.; Stevens, C.J.; Capor, S.J.M.; Mitchell, R.; Britton, A.; Smith, R.; Bealey, B.; Masante, D.; Hewison, R.; Hicks, K., (2015) Developing a decision framework to attribute atmospheric nitrogen deposition as a threat to or cause of unfavourable habitat condition on protected sites 'AND-UP'. Final Report., JNCC Contract Report, February 2015
  • Mitchell, R.J.; Lilly, A.; Bell, J.S.; Cameron, C.; Donald, C.; Fielding, D.; Green, G.; Hewison, R.H.; McIntyre, S.; Newman, G.: Nolan, A.; Owen, J.; Smith, D.; Sturgeon, F.; Thompson, C.; Towers, W.; Williams E., (2014) Ecosystem effects of long-term herbivore exclusion., SNH Contract Report.
  • Mitchell, R.J.; Broome, A.; Harmer, R.; Beaton, J.K.; Bellamy, P.E.; Brooker, R.W.; Duncan, R.; Ellis, C.J.; Hester, A.J.; Hodgetts, N.G.; Iason, G.R.; Littlewood, N.A.; Mackinnon, M.; Pakeman, R.J.; Pozsgai, G.; Ramsey S.; Riach, D.; Stockan, J. A.; Taylor, A.F.S.; Woodward, S., (2014) Assessing and addressing the impacts of ash dieback on UK woodlands and trees of conservation importance (Phase 2)., Natural England Report.
  • Calladine, J.; Furness, B.; Gilbert, L.; Humphreys, L.; Fuller, R.; Littlewood, N.; Mitchell, R.J.; Pakeman, R.J., (2013) Predation studies on breeding waders of the Uists machair: second interim report describing fieldwork undertaken in 2012-2013., Interim Report to Scottish Natural Heritage, November 2013.
  • Mitchell, R.J.; Bailey, S.; Beaton, J.K.; Bellamy, P.E.; Brooker, R.W.; Broome, A.; Chetcuti, J.; Eaton, S.; Ellis, C.J.; Farren, J.; Gimona, A.; Goldberg, E.; Hall, J.; Harmer, R.; Hester, A.J.; Hewison, R.L.; Hodgetts, N.G.; Hooper, R.J.; Howe, L.; Iason, G.R.; Kerr, G.; Littlewood, N.A.; Morgan, V.; Newey, S.; Potts, J.M.; Pozsgai, G.; Ray, D.; Sim, D.A.; Stockan, J.A.; Taylor, A.F.S.; Woodward, S., (2013) Ash dieback: impacts on other species and understanding the ecology of ash., Report to JNCC.
  • Brooker, R.; Aalders, I.H.; Ballingall, K.; Begg, G.; Birch, A.N.E.; Elliott, G.; Ellis, C.; Freitag, T.; Hawes, C.; Holland, J.; Holmes, B.; Hough, R.L.; Karley, A.; McCracken, D.; Mitchell, R.; Stockan, J.; Zadoks, R.; Albon, S.A.; Hester, A.J.; Pakeman, R.J., (2013) Biotic and biophysical underpinning of ecosystem services in the Scottish context: a review., Published online as an outputs from WP 1.1 of the Ecosystem Services Theme of the SRP.
  • Mitchell, R.J.; Beesley, L.; Briggs, R.; Cuthbert, A.; Dawson, J.J.C.; Helliwell, R.C.; Hewison, R.L.; Kerr, C.; Leith, I.D.; Owen, I.J.; Potts, J.M.; Newman, G.; Smith, D.; Shephard, L.J.; Sturgeon, F.; Taylor, A.F.S.; White, D.; Williams, A.; Williams, E.; Black, H.I.J., (2013) Testing soil quality indicators., Report to SEPA.
  • Britton, A.J.; Mitchell, R.J.; Potts, J.M.; Genney, D.R., (2013) Development of a surveillance scheme for priority lichens in Scotland., Scottish Natural Heritage Commissioned Report No.567, 177pp.
  • Rowe, E.C.; Jones, L.; Stevens, C.J.; Vieno, M.; Dore, A.J.; Hall, J.; Sutton, M.; Mills, G.; Evans, C.D.; Helliwell, R.C.; Britton, A.J.; Mitchell, R.J.; Caporn, S.J.; Dise, N.B.; Field, C.; Emmett, B.A., (2013) Measures to evaluate benefits to UK semi-natural habitats of reductions in nitrogen deposition., Final Report on REBEND Project. Defra Tender Reference: AQ0823. CEH Project: NEC04307.
  • Calladine, J.; Furness, B.; Gilbert, L.; Humphreys, L.; Fuller, R.; Littlewood, N.; Mitchell, R.J.; Pakeman, R.J., (2012) Scoping report to Uist Wader Research - suggested research programme 2012-2014., Scottish Natural Heritage Report , January 2012.
  • Miller, D.R.; Morrice, J.; Aspinall, P.; Brown, K.M.; Cummins, R.; Dinnie, E.; Gilbert, A.; Hester, A.J.; Horne, P.; Mitchell, R.; Morris, S.; Roe, J.; Thompson, C.W., (2012) Contribution of green and open space in public health and well-being., Scottish Government, Green Health Progress Report, 2012. Project No. MLU/ECA/UGW/847/08
  • Miller, D.R.; Morrice, J.; Aspinall, P.; Brewer, M.; Brown, K.; Cummins, R.; Dinnie, E.; Donaldson-Selby, G.; Hester, A.J.; Horne, P.; Mitchell, R.; Morris, S.; Munoz-Rojas, J., (2012) GreenHealth progress report., Project Progress Report May 2012.
  • Artz, R.R.E.; Donnelly, D.; Andersen, R.; Mitchell, R.; Chapman, S.J.; Smith, J.; Smith, P.; Cummins, R.; Balana, B.; Cuthbert, A., (2012) Managing and restoring blanket bog to benefit biodiversity and carbon balance - a scoping study., Scottish Natural Heritage Commissioned Report.

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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.