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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 leads the Biodiversity and Ecosystems Group within the Ecological Sciences Department at the Institute. She also leads the Natural Assets Theme for Scottish Government Rural Affairs, Food and Environment Strategic Research Programme. She is a plant and soil ecologists 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.

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) and Acute Oak Decline.  She leads teams of reseachers who identify those species that are most closely associated with ash or oak and therefore are most at risk from a decline in these tree species.  In addition the team identifies the ecological functioning of ash and oak trees and how these compared to other native trees in the UK. The results are used to produced a range of tools to aid woodland managers in conserving ash and oak associated biodiversity.  The full report on ash associated biodiversity can be found here. The work on oak decline is part of the THABI project PuRpOsE and results from this project 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 a member of the British Ecological Society's Scotttish Policy Group and NatureScots Science Advisory Committee


  • 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.

Printed from /staff/ruth-mitchell on 29/05/22 01:05:14 AM

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.