Quantitative Ecologist – Natural Capital Research

Kew Gardens

Wakehurst, West Sussex

£38,200 – £42,000

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Fixed Term (FTA) 3 years

This new role is a compelling opportunity to connect people, science and landscape at Kew’s wild botanic garden, Wakehurst working across RBG Kew and the disciplines of science and land management.

Wakehurst is a 211 Ha (535 acre) site interwoven with designed and wild landscapes from formal horticulture to exotic collections and nature reserves. Established by RBG Kew as its temperate plant collection in 1965, over 50 years of high-quality land management has fostered favourable habitats, notable biodiversity and an internationally significant living plant collection.

You'll have the unique opportunity to explore, model and research the natural capital in this exceptional landscape.

RBG Kew is a world-famous centre for botanical and mycological knowledge. Our two inspiring gardens enchant our visitors with the wonder of the world’s plant diversity; and we reach beyond our garden walls to excite and educate individuals and communities. We aim to be the global resource for plant and fungal knowledge, building an understanding of the world’s plants and fungi upon which all our lives depend.

Wakehurst is Kew’s wild botanic garden: a 211 Ha (535 acre) site interwoven with designed and wild landscapes from formal horticulture to dramatic exotic collections and extensive nature reserves. Established by RBG Kew as its new temperate plant collection in 1965, over 50 years of high-quality land management has fostered favourable habitats, notable biodiversity and an internationally significant living plant collection.

Within the Science Directorate, the post holder will be part of the Natural Capital & Plant Health Department, collaborating extensively with the Spatial Analysis and Data Science teams. These groups research and develop geospatial techniques on plant and fungal diversity for conservation and to improve people’s livelihoods. Examples of expertise include:

  • Developing techniques in species distribution modelling and climate change projections, especially for useful and economically valuable species.
  • Investigating and developing methods for working with remotely sensed and UAV imagery for species identification, plant health and abundance estimation
  • Developing novel spatial algorithms for Kew’s critical work on extinction risk assessments, quantifying fragmentation and isolation, area of occupancy, dispersal and population metrics, to increase both numbers and quality of species assessments.
  • Understanding the ecological and evolutionary processes driving plant and fungal distribution, for example, demography, functional traits, biotic interactions, dispersal and genetic diversity.

Key recent team outputs include:

Pironon et al. 2017. The ‘Hutchinsonian niche’ as an assemblage of demographic niches: implications for species geographic ranges. Ecography 41 (7), 1103-1113.

Baena et al. 2017. Identifying species from the air: UAVs and the very high resolution challenge for plant conservation PloS ONE 12 (11), e0188714.

Davis et al. 2018. Coffee atlas of Ethiopia. (2018). RBG, Kew.

Pironon et al. 2019. Potential adaptive strategies for 29 Sub-Saharan crops under future climate change. Nature Climate Change (in press – link to paper).

Cuesta, F., …..Tovar, C. 2019. New land in the Neotropics: a review of biotic community, ecosystem, and landscape transformations in the face of climate and glacier change. Regional Environmental Change. DOI: 10.1007/s10113-019-01499-3

Borrell, J., et al. 2019 The climatic challenge: Which plants will people use in the next century?

The Quantitative Ecologist will lead research into Wakehurst’s exceptional landscape, creating natural capital asset and risk registers and research on key ecosystem services: carbon sequestration, hydrology, pollination service distribution and wellbeing. Rigorous research, innovative public engagement and development of metrics and methodologies valuable to policy makers will define this project.

Educated to doctoral level, you’ll be proficient in ecological modelling, remotely sensed data capture and analysis to model ecosystem services, with experience of public engagement. You’ll form effective partnerships with regional conservation partners, economists and social scientists and engage Wakehurst’s audiences to generate citizen science data. This will require proficiency in English to engage these stakeholders at a very high level.

Our fantastic benefits package includes opportunities for continuous learning, a generous annual leave entitlement, flexible working to help you maintain a healthy work-life balance, an Employee Assistance Programme and other wellbeing support such as cycle to work scheme and discounted gym membership. We also offer a competitive pension, an employee discount scheme and free entry into a wide range of national museums and galleries, as well access to our own beautiful gardens at Kew and Wakehurst.

If you are interested in this position, please visit our website for more information and to apply.

Closing Date: 03/02/2020

We are committed to equality of opportunity and welcome applications from all sections of the community. We guarantee to interview all disabled applicants who meet the essential criteria for the post.

No agencies please.


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