Rothamsted Research

where knowledge grows

Agroecology

Our mission is to understand the ecological mechanisms that deliver sustainable crop production. We have expertise in movement and spatial ecology of pests and pollinators, above and below-ground functional biodiversity and weed ecology.

The Department specialises in experimental and quantitative ecology and produces high impact research from plot to continental scales. Our science is supported by a unique combination of facilities including the Rothamsted Insect Survey (National Capability), eight 'Classical' experiments as well as a 330 ha research farm, unique Vertical Looking and Harmonic Radars and insect behaviour and field labs.

Over 30 staff and students are clustered into five research groups.

Head of Department: Dr Angela Karp

Departmental Secretary: Karen Wright

Research Teams

Weed Ecology and Evolution

Globally, weeds are a major constraint to crop production and food security. Research within the weed ecology and evolution group at Rothamsted is focused on understanding the ecological and evolutionary forces that underpin the establishment, persistence and spread of weedy (and invasive) plant populations in agro-ecosystems.

Pollination Ecology Group

Studying the movement and ecology of insect pollinators in agricultural landscapes and the consequences for their population dynamics and crop and wildflower pollination.

Perennial Biomass Crops

Focussing on optimising the sustainable yield and biomass composition of perennial non-food crops (especially willows) for bioenergy, biofuels and other industrial products.

Rothamsted Insect Survey

Rothamsted is proud to celebrate 50 years of monitoring aphid and moth populations. In the spirit of openness and collaboration, the resulting data openly available to scientists, farmers and the public. 

Insect Migration and Spatial Ecology

Using entomological radars, tethered-flight systems and large-scale field sampling programs to study the movement ecology and population dynamics of insects over large scales.

Radar Entomology Unit

A specialised radar entomology unit that provides technological solution performs cutting edge research in agricultural sciences, particularly in insect movement and spatial ecology.

Department Press Releases

Radar tracking reveals the ‘life stories’ of bumble bees

Scientists have tracked the flight paths of a group of bumble bees throughout their entire lives in what is thought to be the first lifetime tracking study of any animal in such detail. The new study used a radar to show how individual bees explore their environment and search for food. The findings showed that individual bumble bees differ greatly in the way they fly around the landscape when foraging for nectar and pollen.

Inside knowledge - how do bacteria living within wheat plants affect their hosts?

Most plants have harmless bacteria living inside their tissues, known as ‘endophytes’, which can benefit plants by providing nutrients and suppressing diseases.  Scientists have developed a new technique to grow wheat plants without any endophytes, allowing them to introduce different bacterial species into them, which will reveal more about this interaction. The researchers hope that the method could give insights enabling the production of cereal plants with increased yields.

Exceptionally high numbers of diamondback moths are arriving in the UK

This is a special announcement regarding the diamondback moth and covers observations up until the 10th June 2016. Diamondback moths are an important migratory pest of brassicas, causing feeding and cosmetic damage that can lead to severe losses in cruciferous crops. The diamondback moth (Plutella xylostella) is a species often described a 'super-pest' because they have been found to be resistant to most insecticides, including pyrethroids and diamide.

How do soil bacteria affect agriculture and global climate?

Soils are teeming with bacteria whose effects we are just beginning to understand. One of the most abundant and active groups of bacteria in soils is called Bradyrhizobium. For the first time from European soils, scientists have sequenced the genome of Bradyrhizobium, giving a glimpse into their activity and revealing differences with strains from other parts of the world.

Good news for biodiversity from the world’s oldest ecological experiment at Rothamsted Research in Harpenden

Running continuously since 1856, Park Grass is the world’s oldest ecological experiment and this year marks its 160th anniversary. To celebrate the anniversary and recent findings from the experiment, Rothamsted Research hosted an event on Tuesday 18th May for the public to discuss the global importance of the Park Grass Experiment and to visit the site.

Towards an updated recommended list for willow varieties: a comparative yield trial begins

Willows (Salix spp.) are among the fastest growing trees in temperate latitudes and many species are amenable to growth in highly productive short rotation coppice (SRC) cycles. Rothamsted Research, which receives strategic funding from BBSRC, breeds willows a perennial non-food crop, as a source of renewable woody feedstock for bioenergy and the emerging bioeconomy.

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Studentships vacancies

  • Getting to the roots of black-grass control: Crop-weed allelopathic interactions in Alopecurus myosuroides

    Alopecurus myosuroides (black-grass) is a major threat to UK crop production. The evolution of resistance to herbicides in black-grass means there is an urgent need to develop novel control strategies. There is much interest in the potential for allelopathic interactions (the production of biologically active compounds by plants to inhibit growth of their competitors) to provide novel solutions for black-grass control. You will work with an interdisciplinary team to explore plant ecological and evolutionary interactions, chemical ecology and soil ecology. You will develop skills in plant, chemical and soil ecology underpinned by modern approaches in quantitative biology, analytical chemistry and soil metagenomics. You will develop fundamental scientific knowledge about basic ecological interactions, applying this knowledge to one of the most pressing issues in UK crop production. You will have the opportunity to work with one of the UK’s leading farm management consulting companies to realise the potential of your findings in agronomic field trials.

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Department People

title First Name Last Name Department Location
View Ms Maider Abadie Agroecology Harpenden
View Mrs Lynda Alderson Agroecology Harpenden
View Mr Timothy Barraclough Agroecology Harpenden
View Dr James Bell Agroecology Harpenden
View Miss Madeleine Berger Biological Chemistry and Crop Protection, Agroecology Harpenden
View Dr Aimeric Blaud Agroecology Harpenden
View Mr Dan Blumgart Agroecology Harpenden
View Mr March Castle Agroecology, Plant Biology and Crop Science Harpenden
View Dr Sergio Cerezo Medina Agroecology
View Prof Lars Chittlea Agroecology Harpenden
View Mr Ian Clark Agroecology Harpenden
View Dr David Comont Agroecology Harpenden
View Dr Sam Cook Agroecology Harpenden
View Mr Duncan Coston Agroecology Harpenden
View Miss Laura Crook Agroecology Harpenden
View Mr Tom David Agroecology
View Dr Femke De Jong Agroecology Harpenden
View Dr Andrea Dixon Agroecology
View Mrs Imogen Durenkamp Plant Biology and Crop Science, Agroecology Harpenden
View Mr Steve Freeman Agroecology, Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Mr Peter Fruen Agroecology Harpenden
View Dr Qingling Fu Agroecology
View Mr Philip Gould Agroecology
View Mr Alex Greenslade Biological Chemistry and Crop Protection, Agroecology Harpenden
View Mr Mike Hall Agroecology, Plant Biology and Crop Science Harpenden
View Dr Steven Hanley Agroecology Harpenden
View Dr Richard Harrington Agroecology Harpenden
View Dr Alison Haughton Agroecology Harpenden
View Dr Penny Hirsch Agroecology Harpenden
View Dr Gao Hu Agroecology Harpenden
View Mr Richard Hull Agroecology Harpenden
View Dr Chris Jones Agroecology Harpenden
View Miss Frances Jones Agroecology Harpenden
View Dr Angela Karp Agroecology Harpenden
View Mrs Tracey Kruger Plant Biology and Crop Science, Agroecology Harpenden
View Dr Jason Lim Agroecology Harpenden
View Miss Claudia Lowe Agroecology Harpenden
View Mr William Macalpine Agroecology Harpenden
View Dr James Makinson Agroecology
View Mr Andrew Martin Agroecology Harpenden
View Dr Timothy Mauchline Agroecology Harpenden
View Miss Helen Metcalfe Agroecology Harpenden
View Miss Melissa Minter Agroecology Harpenden
View Dr Ramiro Morales-Hojas Agroecology Harpenden
View Mr Andrew Moss Computational & Systems Biology, Plant Biology and Crop Science, Agroecology, Business Information Services, Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems, Biological Chemistry and Crop Protection Harpenden
View Mr Darren Murray Agroecology Harpenden
View Ms Vanessa Nessner Kavamura Noguchi Agroecology
View Dr Paul Neve Agroecology Harpenden
View Miss Lieselot Nguyen Agroecology Harpenden
View Mrs Susan Parker Agroecology
View Miss Aislinn Pearson Agroecology Harpenden
View Mr Oscar Ramos Rodriguez Agroecology Harpenden
View Dr Donald Reynolds Agroecology, Computational & Systems Biology Harpenden
View Ms Alice Roberts Agroecology Harpenden
View Miss Rachel Rossiter Agroecology Harpenden
View Miss Heather Ruscoe Agroecology Harpenden
View Ms Susanne Schreiter Agroecology
View Dr Ian Shield Agroecology Harpenden
View Mr Christopher Shortall Agroecology Harpenden
View Mr Matthew Skellern Agroecology Harpenden
View Mr David Steele Plant Biology and Crop Science, Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems, Agroecology Harpenden
View Mr Philip Stepanian Agroecology Harpenden
View Dr Jonathan Storkey Agroecology Harpenden
View Miss Jennifer Swain Agroecology Harpenden
View Mr Mark Taylor Agroecology Harpenden
View Mr Martin Torrance Agroecology Harpenden
View Mr Paul Verrier Agroecology Harpenden
View Dr Martin Vila-Aiub Agroecology
View Dr Charlotte Wainwright Agroecology
View Mr Shang Wang Agroecology
View Mr Nigel Watts Agroecology Harpenden
View Miss Trish Wells Agroecology Harpenden
View Dr Carly Whittaker Agroecology Harpenden
View Dr Joe Woodgate Agroecology Harpenden
View Miss Karen Wright Agroecology Harpenden
View Ms Nicola Yates Agroecology Harpenden