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Scholarly biography

Chris Joyce is Professor of Ecology in the School of Applied Sciences. He is Director of the Centre for Aquatic Environments. Professor Joyce has 30 years of ecological research experience focusing on wetland ecology, management and restoration. He has conducted his research throughout Europe, especially in the UK, Czech Republic and Estonia, and in the USA. In 2020, he was awarded a 40th Anniversary Award by the international Society of Wetland Scientists for “high level and sustained contribution to wetland research and education.” He received an Honorary Doctorate from the Estonian University of Life Sciences in 2021 for being "an internationally recognised scientist and expert in the field of ecology who has contributed considerably to promoting international co-operation.”    

Professor Joyce has attracted funds worth over £1.5 million for his research, including grants from the Darwin Initiative, Earthwatch Institute, European Union, Natural England, Environment Agency and Research Councils. He has successfully supervised 14 Doctorate (PhD) research degrees and is currently supervising a further five PhD candidates.

Professor Joyce has authored around 50 peer-reviewed publications and more than 35 conference papers. He has co-authored two books and edited three special issues of journals. He has presented his work to academics, practitioners, politicians and the general public and been invited to give keynote lectures throughout Europe and in the USA.

Professor Joyce has also conducted over 20 major ecological consultancy projects, specialising in botanical and wildlife surveys, preparing management plans, biodiversity audits, and ecological impact assessment. He has advised Government bodies, universities, non-governmental organisations and industry on ecology, biodiversity and environmental management. He was an Associate Editor of the international journal ‘ Hydrobiologia’ from 2012-2022, is on the Editorial Board for the journal ‘ Wetland Science and Practice’, and serves on the Publications Committee for the Society of Wetland Scientists.

Approach to teaching

I am passionate about fieldwork and try to integrate it into my teaching whenever appropriate. I am particularly keen on teaching field-based ecological skills, such as plant and wildlife identification, ecological surveys and sampling, habitat mapping, and interpreting the landscape. I have taught such skills in many habitats, including ponds, rivers, sea shores, salt marshes, floodplains, grasslands, woodlands and urban environments, and during residential field courses in the UK, Switzerland, Spain, Estonia, and Sicily. I also like to make use of the local area for teaching. For example, students and I visit Cuckmere Haven as part of my ‘Rivers, Coasts and Wetlands’ module in order to discuss wetland ecosystems and management.

I think it is important to recognise the critical role humans play in shaping ‘natural’ systems through their relationships with nature conservation. This is a key theme in my research but also in my teaching, which often involves students discussing contemporary conservation issues, for example in mock consultancy exercises or conventions. It also underpins my teaching on biogeography and environmental management on undergraduate courses, and on ecological evaluation and mitigation at Masters level.

I am afraid that I am also keen on teaching data analysis and presentation, at least so that students are not scared of statistics! In particular, I inflict multivariate analysis on students in the hope that their final year projects will reap the rewards!

Research interests

Professor Joyce is the Director of the Centre for Aquatic Environments and Professor of Ecology, specialising in wetlands. His research improves understanding and management of internationally important transitional wetlands, especially wet grasslands, coastal wetlands, and river floodplains, which depend upon human management to maintain their vital ecosystem services and biodiversity. He was the first person to quantify the sensitivity of wet grasslands to management changes such as altered water levels, intensive fertilisation or land abandonment. He has also developed surveying, assessment and monitoring techniques for wetlands that have been adopted by governments, practitioners and academics.

His current main research themes are:

  1. assessing the effects of climate change, including extreme events such as floods and droughts, on wetlands in order to develop resilient wetland systems,
  2. determining the impacts of invasive non-native aquatic plant species on native wetland biodiversity, and to develop sustainable methods for controlling and monitoring invasive aquatic plants, and
  3. investigating and monitoring the creation, restoration and management of coastal wetlands for nature-based solutions, such as carbon storage. 

Ongoing projects include: experiments on the impacts of predicted climate change on Baltic wetland plant communities; developing methods for the management and monitoring of invasive aquatic plants on the Pevensey Levels, England; and assessment of salt marsh and other coastal wetland habitat creation in southern England. 

Supervisory Interests

I am interested in supervising postgraduate research students (PhD and MRes) in the following areas: wetland ecology and climate change; wetland creation and restoration; invasive wetland plants; wetlands for nature-based solutions; wetlands and environmental change.  Current or recent PhD projects include: Responses of Floodplain Grassland Plants to Extreme Climate Events; Blue Carbon’ in Seagrass meadows; Effective management of the invasive aquatic plant Australian swamp stonecrop (Crassula helmsii) in wetlands; The impact of the non-native invasive species Hydrocotyle ranunculoides (Floating Pennywort) on macrophyte communities; Impacts of climate change on Baltic coastal plant communities; and Developing a rapid assessment tool for salt marsh restoration. 

Knowledge exchange

I have led over 20 major ecological consultancy projects, specialising in plant and wildlife surveys, preparing management plans, biodiversity audits and action plans, and ecological impact assessments.  I have worked with industry, charities and Government organisations including: the National Health Service, the Environment Agency, Toyota, Transport for London, Southern Water, Natural England and the National Trust.

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, Estonian University of Life Sciences

Award Date: 5 Nov 2021

Bachelor, Loughborough University

PhD, Loughborough University

External positions

Doctoral supervisor, Estonian University of Life Sciences

2017 → …

Keywords

  • GE Environmental Sciences
  • Wetlands
  • Ecology
  • Management
  • Restoration
  • Creation
  • Vegetation
  • Plants
  • Biodiversity
  • Birds
  • Invertebrates

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