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Susan Cooksley

Staff picture: Susan Cooksley
Ecological Sciences
Ecological Sciences
Catchment Scientist
+44 (0)344 928 5428 (*)

The James Hutton Institute
Aberdeen AB15 8QH
Scotland UK


Current research interests

Susan is a catchment scientist and practitioner. She specialises in understanding anthropogenic impacts on water and habitat quality in order to support the sustainable management of river systems.

Susan coordinates a programme of water-energy research in support of the sustainable planning, development and management of Scotland's hydropower resources. The work is investigating the implications of continued reliance on hydropower, with a focus on future water scenarios, competing water demands, and tradeoffs with other ecosystem services. Within this programme Susan is leading research that is investigating the envoionmental impacts of large and small scale hydropower schemes with the aim of supporting their sustainable management and operation.

Susan's research is fully integrated with implementation on the ground. She has been the Partnership Manager for the Dee Catchment Partnership, one of Scotland's foremost catchment management partnerships, since 2005. This initiative is coordinating local stakeholders in the common aim of restoring habitat and water quality throughout the Dee catchment. Following the launch of the Dee Catchment Management Plan in 2007, current projects include: remeandering of the Logie burn, flooplain restoration in the upper catchment, large scale restoration of riparian woodland, a rolling programme of buffer strip installation in the middle catchment, the promotion of new guidance for the use of buffer strips during development works, and the production of UK guidance for septic tanks. The Partnership delivers a wide range of outreach activities, working with schools, communities and local groups and organisations.

Susan is a member of the National Advisory Group for River Basin Planning, as well as the North East Area Advisory Group for River Basin Planning and Local Advisory Group for Flood Risk Management.


Past research

Susan trained as an ecologist at Aberdeen University. Her PhD focussed on foraging theory, using Scottish red wood ants as a model species. This led to a long-term study of the impacts of pinewood regeneration on population structure commissioned by SNH. A growing interest in species with a role in structuring habitat led to work on freshwater pearl mussel ecology and a range of projects relating to catchment-scale impacts on instream habitats. A visit to Otago University further developed her skills in freshwater ecology and returning to the UK Susan undertook a NERC postdoc investigating the role of the freshwater ecologist as an ecosystem engineer and the consequences of population extinctions for freshwater communities.

Susan has been undertaking and leading pearl mussel research, monitoring and surveys throughout Scotland for over 15 years.  She has collaborated in the development of standard monitoring protocols for this critically endangered species, management prescriptions for SACs in Scotland and applications of extensive survey techniques to describe pearl mussel distribution and macrohabitat.


Scientific Posters / Conferences

Printed from /staff/susan-cooksley on 30/03/23 03:32:06 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.