James Clarke

James Clarke


I am a research ecologist who specialises in population and statistical ecology. My undergraduate degree was carried out at Queen’s University Belfast where I obtained a first class honours in BSci Environmental Biology. My undergraduate final year project wasn’t directly associated with my current specialisations but involved investigating the impact of pesticide use on the diversity and abundance of invertebrates in commercial orchards.

After this I took a year out when I volunteered at Murlough NNR in Northern Ireland. Here I led the UKBMS (butterfly) surveys, which I performed every week across the survey season, whenever possible. For my PhD project I will now be working the dataset from this survey to help improve conservation delivery for UK butterflies.

Following this volunteer position, I then completed an MRes in Environment and Ecology at the University of Sheffield. My project here investigated the effect of temperature on the body-size dynamics of the Tiger Flathead fish species (Neoplatycephalus richardsoni). For this project I developed a series of Bayesian hierarchical piecewise linear regression models to describe the growth of species. An integral projection model was then developed to determine the effects of temperature on growth.

James Clarke

Ecology and Biodiversity

University of Kent, National Centre for Statistical Ecology

PhD title: Modelling butterfly abundance at varying spatial scales to inform conservation delivery

My PhD project is modelling butterfly abundance at varying spatial scales to inform conservation delivery. I will be working with the long-term UKBMS dataset to develop a better understanding on the factors that are affecting the butterfly abundances for UK butterflies, many of which are under threat from the effects of habitat and climate changes.

We hope to determine population trends at a variety of spatial scales, such as in specific habitats and even individual sites. This will improve our understanding of lifespans, as well as allowing us to assess the threatened status of UK butterfly species. Our modelling will assess spatial variation, the influence of external factors, lifespan and variation in detection on butterfly abundance estimates. This should help inform conservation delivery at a site specific and regional level. It will also help to influence changes in the surveying protocol for the long-running UKBMS, to enhance the knowledge about butterfly abundances we can gain from this.