Meet the Biological Flora Associate Editors

The Journal of Ecology team are delighted to present the new Biological Flora of the British Isles database! Accounts covering over 300 species have been published to date – find them all in the new database. You can read editor Tony Davy’s introduction to the database, and below, you can find out more about the Associate Editors who handle the papers. 


Peter Thomas, Keele University, UK

Peter Thomas

I’m a Reader in Plant Ecology at Keele University, UK, and also currently a Fellow at Harvard Forest, Harvard University, USA. My research focuses on trees but tends to be quite peripatetic, so when I work on a new plant, or want to know more about a species, the BFBI accounts are the place to get detailed background information on how that plant fits within its environment. And the standard structure makes it so much easier to know where to look for any particular information. I’ve written a number of accounts myself as a way of ‘storing’ information that I know I will forget in time, and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve gone back to these accounts to remind myself of things I once held in my head! Accounts on which I am an author: Betula nanaEuonymus europaeusFagus sylvaticaFraxinus excelsiorJuniperus communis, Ruscus aculeatusSorbus torminalisTaxus baccata and Ulmus glabraPlus another couple in progress!


Kevin Walker, Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland

Kevin WalkerI’m a plant ecologist employed by the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI) where I lead a small team collating and verifying the huge numbers of biological records collected by the BSBI’s national network of volunteer plant recorders. My main role is to develop and run national recording and monitoring schemes, but I also spend a fair amount of time analysing BSBI data as well as promoting its wider use. My interests extend from single species studies (rare species, invasive aliens) through to large-scale and long-term analyses of change in relation to major drivers and recording behaviour.  I’m also rather fond of sedges and grasses. As a field botanist I believe that accurate species identifications and observations are the key to good ecological science. The BFBI are the ‘gold standard’ in this regard providing authoritative accounts of the biology/ecology of plant species often including unpublished work that would normally be inaccessible to the field ecologist. They also offer a good ‘apprenticeship’ for young botanists, who like myself in the distant past, used it as a way of structuring my autecological investigations, although I’ve yet to finish the BFBI account that I started writing over two decades ago!


Michael Usher, University of Stirling

Michael UsherDuring my University of York career I was interested in soil biodiversity and wildlife conservation. Subsequently, as Chief Scientist in Scottish Natural Heritage, my environmental interests broadened so that I felt that I knew almost nothing about everything! In retirement I enjoy photographing insects, ferns and wild flowers, working with the Council of Europe on topics related to the Bern Convention, and editing books in Cambridge University Press’s series Ecology, Biodiversity and Conservation. I find it fascinating to see the compilation of so much information about single species – should there not be a Biological Fauna of the British Isles as well?


Mick Crawley, Imperial College London, UK

Mick CrawleyI am an Emeritus Professor of Plant Ecology at Imperial College London, with research interests in plant herbivore interactions and alien plants.  I am also a Trustee of the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland, and botanical recorder for Berkshire and East Sutherland.  For the last 10 years I have been gathering data towards the production of an Ecological Flora of London. The Biological Flora is simply the best way to find out what is known about the ecology of a plant, and hence to discover the most interesting unanswered questions about it.


Oliver Pescott, Biological Records Centre, UK

oliver-pescott.jpgI’m a researcher within the Biological Records Centre and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Wallingford. I provide expertise on plants and plant ecology within the organisation, often with a focus on conservation or the effects of environmental change. One of the my main roles is to liaise with the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland and the British Bryological Society to promote the use of volunteer-collected plant data in research, a topic closely linked to the ever-increasing interest in citizen science in ecology. In this area I am also the CEH lead on the National Plant Monitoring Scheme. Outside of work, I am a keen field botanist and bryologist, recording species’ distributions in Oxfordshire and Islay whenever possible. Bringing together information every published on a species like the BFBI does is an enormous challenge, but incredibly worthwhile from the point of view of progressing our understand of species and their ecologies. Considered together, information on all the fundamental aspects of a species suddenly take on new significant and our understanding of patterns and processes in communities and ecosystems can leap forward.


Chris Preston, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, UK

Chris Preston

Chris Preston is a botanist based at the Biological Records CentreCentre for Ecology & Hydrology, in Wallingford, Oxfordshire. An expert on bryophytes, Chris has published extensively in Field Bryology and the Journal of Bryology amongst other journals, as well as publishing several books related to botany. Chris’ further works include contributions the Bryophyte Recording Handbook for the British Bryological Society and The Hybrid Flora of the British Isles for the BSBI, which he wrote with Clive Stace and David Pearman.


Charlotte Seal, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK

Charlotte SealMy research at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, is focused on seed functional traits. I am particularly interested in species which grow in environments that are considered stressful, such as those affected by drought or salinity. Using seeds of different species, many of which are stored in Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank, I characterise and compare germination behaviour and assess how resilient germination will be to climate change in the future. My research is collaborative and I work with scientists from across the globe. As an editor of BFBI, I find the accounts an incredibly useful resource as they summarise multiple aspects related to the ecology of a species, from its geographical distribution through to seed germination and conservation. This “one-stop shop” of knowledge is essential in understanding how processes such as germination relate to the natural ecology of a species.


David Streeter, University of Sussex, UK

David StreeterI am currently Emeritus Reader in Ecology at the University of Sussex where I was a founding member of the School of Biological Sciences under John Maynard Smith back in 1965. Particular interests are landscape ecology and the relation between ecological theory and conservation practice and the ecology and biogeography of the British flora, including bryophytes and lichens. The BFBI is unique in that it gives the UK the most comprehensive information on its flora of any country. Previously I have served as president of the Sussex Wildlife Trust, and the council of the BES. I was also a member of the England Committee of the Nature Conservancy Council and a Countryside Commissioner, and served  as a member of the Historic Buildings and Land Panel of the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Conservation Panel of the National Trust.


Access the new BFBI database on the British Ecological Society website. 

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