Animal and Plant Science Research Group

We work to understand terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems, how these are impacted by humans, and how to better manage such impacts.

We study organisms that range from the largest – including whales and African mammals - to the microscopic, such as parasites and plankton. We explore patterns in biodiversity and how evolution has shaped the lives of animals and plants as they interact, through for example pollination. We investigate how individuals and species respond to environmental stressors, ranging from heavy metals to noise. We study the drivers that shape ecosystems, their resilience and the services these systems provide to humans, such as carbon sequestration, food and livelihood security, coastal protection, and recreational pleasure. We explore how damaged ecosystems can be restored and provide sound scientific information to policy makers.

Conservation and wise use of natural resources, respect for other species, sharing the wonders of scientific exploration and knowledge with students and the public are the values that underpin our research. We conduct our science in countries from the tropics to the arctic, and in the laboratory, the field and through virtual scenario- and modelling-based approaches. We have excellent, modern research facilities at our Sighthill Campus, such as the AquaLab (constant-temperature room for freshwater and marine research) and access to a 275m2 experimental saltwater aquarium at the nearby Scottish East Coast.

We have institutional links with the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland - Edinburgh Zoo, the Moredun Research Institute, the Scottish Consortium of Rural Research, the St Abbs Marine Station and The Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland. We also collaborate with many conservation charities and agencies, including The National Trust for Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage.

Research areas

Biodiversity and conservation

Explore our research