Principal Research Officer

About me

I am a research scientist with broad interests in conservation and ecology. These interests began with a childhood chasing insects, climbing trees, watching birds and trying to catch fish in the Oxfordshire countryside where I grew up. After an undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences at the University of Bristol, and a NERC-funded MSc at Queen Mary, University of London, I completed a NERC-funded PhD on Mute Swan foraging ecology, supervised by Dr Matthew O’Hare (Centre for Ecology & Hydrology). I then spent over two years as a postdoctoral researcher in Professor Richard Stillman’s Individual-based Ecology group at Bournemouth University, developing individual-based models to inform the conservation of waterbird populations. At WWT, I use my research to improve our understanding of the interactions between wetlands and people. This includes identifying anthropogenic pressures that threaten the health of wetland ecosystems, quantifying the benefits of wetlands for people, and informing conservation action to protect wetland ecosystems.

Work

As part of WWT’s Conservation Evidence team, I’m involved in developing and carrying out a wide range of research projects that provide the inter-disciplinary (ecological, social) evidence needed to inform the conservation actions of WWT and our partners. My current areas of research include improving our understanding of the benefits of wetlands, including their role in mitigating climate change through the storage of carbon (“blue carbon”), as well as understanding their provision of socio-cultural services to people and communities. I am particularly interested in understanding the factors that influence the provision of these ecosystem services by wetlands. My research also investigates anthropogenic threats to wetlands and their wildlife, as well as how species respond to conservation efforts. I have worked extensively on diagnosing the demographic and environmental causes of population declines in threated wetland species. Since 2017 I have been a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the journal Aquatic Botany.

Skills

  • Evidence synthesis: In addition to my own primary research, I use meta-analysis and reviews to synthesise the available evidence on key topics to strengthen the evidence-base for our conservation work.
  • Data analysis: Proficient in R, I carry out a wide range of statistical analyses, including linear and non-linear mixed-effects models, survival modelling using capture-mark-recapture/resight/recovery data, zero-inflated models, and moving average models.
  • Individual-based models: I develop individual-based models (also known as agent-based models) to predict how individuals and populations will respond to changes in their environment. These simulations can be used to guide conservation interventions.
  • Field ecology: I collect a range of ecological data, from counting animals, to measuring their behaviour (time-activity budgets), to measuring the abundance and community composition of aquatic plants.
  • Population biology: I analyse long-term datasets to estimate demographic rates including productivity and survival, and develop matrix population models to investigate how changes in demographic rates affect population dynamics.
  • Editorial work: A member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the journal Aquatic Botany since 2017, I have also served as Guest Editor for special issues of journals including Hydrobiologia and Wildfowl.

Publications

For full list see my Google Scholar profileand my ResearchGate profile.

Wood, K.A., Stillman, R.A., Newth, J.L., Nuijten, R.J.M., Hilton, G.M., Nolet, B.A. & Rees, E.C. (2021). Predicting avian herbivore responses to changing food availability and competition. Ecological Modelling, 441, 109421.

Wood, K.A. (2020). Negative results provide valuable evidence for conservation. Perspectives in Ecology and Conservation, 18, 235-237.

Nuijten, R.J.M., Wood, K.A., Haitjema, T., Rees, E.C. & Nolet, B.A. (2020). Concurrent shifts in wintering distribution and phenology in migratory swans: individual and generational effects. Global Change Biology, 26, 4263-4275.

Wood, K.A., Brown, M.J., Cromie, R.L., MacKenzie, C., Newth, J.L., Pain, D.J., Perrins, C.M. & Rees, E.C. (2019). Regulation of lead fishing weights results in mute swan population recovery. Biological Conservation, 230, 67-74.

Wood, K.A., Stillman, R.A. & Hilton, G.M. (2018). Conservation in a changing world needs predictive models. Animal Conservation, 21, 87-88.

Wood, K.A., O’Hare, M.T., McDonald, C., Searle, K.R., Daunt, F. & Stillman, R.A. (2017). Herbivore regulation of plant abundance in aquatic ecosystems. Biological Reviews, 92, 1128-1141.

Wood, K.A., Stillman, R.A. & Goss-Custard, J.D. (2015). Co-creation of individual-based models by practitioners and modellers to inform environmental decision-making. Journal of Applied Ecology, 85, 810-815.

Redpath, S.M., Gutierrez, R.J., Wood, K.A. & Young, J.C. (2015). Conflicts in Conservation: Navigating towards solutions. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.