Richard Stafford

Richard Stafford
Bournemouth University | BU · Life and Environmental Sciences

PhD Marine Ecology

About

90
Publications
23,785
Reads
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1,463
Citations
Introduction
I am an ecologist with specific interest in computational ecology and complex systems theory. I use a variety of statistical and computational tools to address ecological questions or analyse ecological data; including agent-based models, Bayesian networks, evolutionary algorithms and bootstrapping. I have worked on a range of organisms (from elephants and wolves to locusts and snails) and habitats (from gardens to open oceans), but much of my work is based in the marine environment.
Additional affiliations
December 2012 - November 2015
Bournemouth University
Position
  • Complex Systems Ecologist
December 2012 - November 2017
Bournemouth University
Position
  • Professor
June 2011 - November 2012
University of Bedfordshire
Position
  • Principal Lecturer

Publications

Publications (90)
Article
Full-text available
Given the current environmental crisis there have been multiple calls for a green recovery from COVID-19 which address environmental concerns and provide jobs in industries and communities economically damaged by the pandemic. Here, we holistically evaluate a range of recovery scenarios, evaluated on environmental and socio-economic equity metrics....
Article
Full-text available
Abstract Species that inhabit high‐shore environments on rocky shores survive prolonged periods of emersion and thermal stress. Using two Hong Kong high‐shore littorinids (Echinolittorina malaccana and E. radiata) as models, we examined their behavioral repertoire to survive these variable and extreme conditions. Environmental temperatures ranged f...
Article
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Abstract Environmental volunteering can benefit participants and nature through improving physical and mental well‐being while encouraging environmental stewardship. To enhance achievement of these outcomes, conservation organizations need to reach different groups of people to increase participation in environmental volunteering. This paper explor...
Article
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The severity of environmental threats, especially climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution, are well established, as is the urgent need for them to be addressed. These threats act both in isolation as well as synergistically to contribute to overall ‘environmental breakdown’. Debate exists around the most optimal governance and policy approa...
Article
Water availability and water management systems were critical for the success of past agricultural societies. One way to determine past water availability is through phytolith ratios as demonstrated by research conducted on modern C3 plants. In order to determine if phytolith ratios in C4 plants are similarly affected by plant water availability, t...
Article
We agree with Avery-Gomm et al. that we should not separate out environmental issues. We also agree with them over the relative threat of plastic to our oceans. However, recent evidence on the ‘spillover effect’ of pro-environmental behaviours and on public attitudes to threats to areas such as the Great Barrier Reef suggest common consumerist and...
Preprint
Ocean plastic is a contemporary focal point of concern for the marine environment. However, we argue there are bigger issues to address, including climate change and overfishing. Plastic has become a focus in the media and public domains partly through the draw of simple lifestyle changes, such as reusable water bottles, and partly through the pote...
Preprint
We agree with Avery-Gomm et al. that we should not separate out environmental issues. We also agree with them over the relative threat of plastic to our oceans. However, recent evidence on the ‘spillover effect’ of pro-environmental behaviours and on public attitudes to threats to areas such as the Great Barrier Reef suggest common consumerist and...
Article
Ocean plastic is a contemporary focal point of concern for the marine environment. However, we argue there are bigger issues to address, including climate change and overfishing. Plastic has become a focus in the media and public domains partly through the draw of simple lifestyle changes, such as reusable water bottles, and partly through the pote...
Article
Full-text available
Sexual size dimorphism is widespread among dioecious species, but its underlying driving forces are often complex. A review of sexual size dimorphism in marine gastropods revealed two common patterns: first, sexual size dimorphism, with females being larger than males, and, second, females being larger than males in mating pairs. Both patterns sugg...
Article
Ocean plastic is a contemporary focal point of concern for the marine environment. However, we argue there are bigger issues to address, including climate change and overfishing. Plastic has become a focus in the media and public domains partly through the draw of simple lifestyle changes, such as reusable water bottles, and partly through the pote...
Article
Full-text available
The concept of sustainable fishing is well ingrained in marine conservation and marine governance. However, I argue that the concept is deeply flawed; ecologically, socially and economically. Sustainability is strongly related, both historically and currently, to maximum long-term economic exploitation of a system. Counter-intuitively, in fisheries...
Article
Full-text available
Aim The distribution of the western house mouse (Mus musculus domesticus) around the world has been strongly influenced by the movement of humans. The close association between the house mouse and human phylogeography has been primarily studied in the peripheral distribution of the species. Here, we inferred the complex colonization history of Cypr...
Article
Full-text available
• Ellenberg indicator values (EIVs) are a widely used metric in plant ecology comprising a semi‐quantitative description of species’ ecological requirements. Typically, point estimates of mean EIV scores are compared over space or time to infer differences in the environmental conditions structuring plant communities—particularly in resurvey studie...
Poster
Full-text available
3DPARE will develop innovative artificial reefs for sustainable management of the marine ecosystems of the Atlantic Area. This common habitat requires measures to protect or recover natural resources. Biodiversity-oriented reefs will be shaped by large-scale 3D printing. Focus will be on innovative designs, low-impact, resistant and bio-receptive m...
Article
Microplastics are ubiquitous in the marine environment and are now consistently found in almost all marine animals. This study examines the rate of accumulation in a modelled filter feeder (mussels) both from direct uptake of microplastics and from direct uptake in addition to trophic uptake (via consuming plankton which have consumed microplastic...
Article
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has set targets for the total area of marine protected areas (MPAs), as well as targets to encourage a participatory approach to governance with equitable sharing of benefits of these areas to multiple stakeholders. These targets have contributed to a considerable volume of research in MPA governance, an...
Article
Descended from junglefowl of Asia and South-east Asia, the chicken was introduced into Europe during the first millennium BCE. As one of the most recently domesticated species, it makes an excellent case study for investigating the consequences of such introductions to past ecological communities. We present a unique application of a novel ecologic...
Article
Full-text available
While the effects of climate change on top predators are well documented, the role of predation on ecosystem level carbon production is poorly developed, despite it being a logical consequence of trophic dynamics. Trophic cascade effects have shown predator mediated changes in primary production, but we predict that predators should lower the overa...
Article
Full-text available
Water management was critical to the development of complex societies but such systems are often difficult, if not impossible, to recognise in the archaeological record, particularly in prehistoric communities when water management began. This is because early irrigation systems are likely to have been ephemeral and as such would no longer be visib...
Article
Full-text available
Complex computer models are used to predict how ecological systems respond to changing environmental conditions or management actions. Communicating these complex models to non-scientists is challenging, but necessary, because decision-makers and other end users need to understand, accept, and use the models and their predictions. Despite the impor...
Article
Assortative mating in the wild is commonly estimated by correlating between traits in mating pairs (e.g. the size of males and females). Unfortunately, such an approach may suffer from considerable sampling bias when the distribution of different expressions of a trait in the wild is nonrandom (e.g. when segregation of different size classes of ind...
Article
Evaluating potential effects of conservation and management actions in marine reserves requires an understanding not only of the biological processes in the reserve, and between the reserve and the surrounding ocean, but also of the effects of the wildlife on the wider political and economic processes. Such evaluations are made considerably more di...
Article
Full-text available
Studies of mating contests have reported how traits (e.g. body size) related to resource-holding potential (RHP) and strategies to assess RHP and resource value influence contest outcome in many taxa but are rare in the Gastropoda. The influence of male size (as an index of RHP) and female size (as a measure of resource value) on contest outcome wa...
Article
Full-text available
Marine protected areas can be designated for a number of reasons, but exactly how they provide benefits is only recently being understood. We assessed the effect of protection on the size and distribution of six common species of grouper in a coral reef ecosystem. Data on live coral cover, coral genus diversity, and coral colony structure type were...
Article
In the marine environment, humans exploit natural ecosystems for food and economic benefit. Challenging policy goals have been set to protect resources, species, communities and habitats, yet ecologists often have sparse data on interactions occurring in the system to assess policy outcomes. This paper presents a technique, loosely based on Bayesia...
Article
Different combinations and intensities of physical (e.g. thermal) and biological (e.g. competition or predation) stress operate on organisms in different locations. Variation in these stresses can occur over small to medium spatial scales (cm to 10s of metres) in heterogeneous environments such as rocky shores, due to differences in sun and wave ex...
Article
Full-text available
Teaching numeric disciplines to higher education students in many life sciences disciplines is highly challenging. In this study, we test whether an approach linking field observations with predictive models can be useful in allowing students to understand basic numeracy and probability, as well as developing skills in modelling, understanding spec...
Article
Full-text available
Urban gardens provide a rich habitat for species that are declining in rural areas. However, collecting data in gardens can be logistically-challenging, time-consuming and intrusive to residents. This study examines the potential of citizen scientists to record hedgehog sightings and collect habitat data within their own gardens using an online que...
Article
The neurotoxin, 6-hydroxy dopamine (6-OHDA)-induced oxidative stress causes alterations in intracellular signalling events and activates cellular and molecular mechanisms leading to the degeneration of the dopamine-containing neurons (DCNs). The cyclic-AMP response element-binding protein (CREB) modulates the transcription of mitochondrial and nucl...
Article
Full-text available
Within ecology, there are unanswered questions about species-habitat interactions, which could potentially be resolved by a pragmatic analysis of a long-term volunteer-collected dataset. Here, we analysed 18 years of volunteer-collected data from a UK dormouse nestbox monitoring programme to determine the influence of habitat variables on nestbox c...
Article
Full-text available
Ecological regime shift is the rapid transition from one stable community structure to another, often ecologically inferior , stable community. Such regime shifts are especially common in shallow marine communities, such as the transition of kelp forests to algal turfs that harbour far lower biodiversity. Stable regimes in communities are a result...
Article
Many studies have shown recent climate-induced changes in species distributions (e.g. poleward range shifts); however, currently there is no standardised method of determining whether these changes are statistically significant over time. Furthermore, presence-only or unequal sample effort data, commonly used in climate-distribution studies, presen...
Article
Snails are highly unusual among multicellular animals in that they move on a layer of costly mucus, leaving behind a trail that can be followed and utilized for various purposes by themselves or by other animals. Here we review more than 40 years of experimental and theoretical research to try to understand the ecological and evolutionary rationale...
Article
For intertidal invertebrates, reducing water loss during emersion is a fundamental challenge for survival (Test 1945; Davies 1970; Wolcott 1973). While there are numerous physiological adaptations to combat water loss, some behavioural responses are also thought to be benefi-cial, one of which is the formation of aggregations of individuals which s...
Article
Full-text available
In many ways, science has never been as popular as it is now. With an ever-increasing number of popular science books on everything from astronomy to climate change and evolution and entire TV channels devoted to science output, the public seems spoilt for choice. However, paradoxically, there is also an increasing disconnect between science—and sc...
Article
Full-text available
The analysis of presence-only data is a problem in determining species distributions and accurately determining population sizes. The collection of such data is common from unequal or nonrandomised effort surveys, such as those surveys conducted by citizen scientists. However, causative regression-based methods have been less well examined using pr...
Article
Full-text available
Despite recent papers on problems associated with full-model and stepwise regression, their use is still common throughout ecological and environmental disciplines. Alternative approaches, including generating multiple models and comparing them post-hoc using techniques such as Akaike's Information Criterion (AIC), are becoming more popular. Howeve...
Data
A ReadMe document that provides a practical introduction to REVS. It also describes how to run REVS on the sample data (File S2) and briefly interprets the results obtained by so-doing. (DOC)
Data
R code for the REVS procedure (requires R to open; download R software package from http://cran.r-project.org if necessary and ensure that the LEAPS package is installed). (R)
Data
Sample dataset for use the REVS procedure (CSV format). (CSV)
Article
Cooperative behaviours result in the evolution of cheats: individuals that benefit from the behaviour without sharing the costs required to generate the behaviour. Normally the proportion of cheats is small, as large numbers of cheats will result in the breakdown of the behaviour. Using empirical and simulation‐derived results we demonstrate a coop...
Article
Full-text available
Identifying individual animals is important in understanding their ecology and behaviour, as well as providing estimates of population sizes for conservation efforts. We produce identification keys from photographs of green sea turtles to identify them while foraging in Akumal Bay, Mexico. We create three keys, which (a) minimise the length of the...
Article
Highlights ► We develop a statistical procedure for multivariate analysis of ethogram data. ► We demonstrate the procedure on crab, elephant, dog and tiger ethograms. ► We show it is biologically meaningful and visually intuitive. ► We provide a sample dataset and R code for the technique.
Article
Knowledge of trophic interactions is of vital importance for understanding ecological community dynamics. While techniques such as direct observation of prey consumption and stomach content analysis are suitable for some species; for wide ranging carnivores, especially those of conservation concern, analysis of matter in faecal scats or regurgitate...
Article
Mate searching often involves chemical cues and is a key process in determining fitness in most sexually reproducing animals. Effective mate-searching strategies are, therefore, essential for individuals to avoid wasting resources as a result of misrecognition of mating partners. Marine snails in the genus Littoraria are among the most successful m...
Article
Full-text available
Estimation of small mammal population sizes is important for monitoring ecosystem condition and for conservation. Here, we test the accuracy of standard methods of population size estimation using Capture-Mark-Recapture (CMR) on a simulated population of agents. The use of a computer simulation allows complete control of population sizes and behavi...
Article
Full-text available
Group or population level self-organised systems comprise many individuals displaying group-level emergent properties. Current theory indicates that individual-level behaviours have an effect on the final group-level behaviour; that is, self-organised systems are sensitive to small changes in individual behaviour. Here we examine a self-organised b...
Article
Full-text available
An artificial, and generally unhelpful, divide between lecturers and students frequently occurs in higher education, especially among recent school-leavers. Bridging that divide allows lecturers and students to develop collaboratively to the benefit of both parties. Residential field courses provide an important forum to develop more mature relatio...
Article
Full-text available
Capsule Between 1990 and 2004 changes in first-egg date (FED) differed in co-occurring populations of Blue Tits and Great Tits. In Blue Tits mean FED advanced by five days but the within-year variability in FEDs did not change, while in Great Tits mean FED did not change but there was a significant increase in within-year variability.
Article
Full-text available
Photographic identification of individual organisms can be possible from natural body markings. Data from photo-ID can be used to estimate important ecological and conservation metrics such as population sizes, home ranges or territories. However, poor quality photographs or less well-studied individuals can result in a non-unique ID, potentially c...
Article
Full-text available
Perfect behaviours that are optimal to the environment an agent operates within rarely exist in real animals or in robotic systems. The costs (be they biological or economic) of building sensors and processing the information they capture become excessive compared to the small advantages that occur from the modifications of behaviour. Many self-org...
Data
Python code used to interface with the Flickr API and search by tag for unprocessed photographs (0.02 MB TXT)
Article
Full-text available
Monitoring change in species diversity, community composition and phenology is vital to assess the impacts of anthropogenic activity and natural change. However, monitoring by trained scientists is time consuming and expensive. Using social networks, we assess whether it is possible to obtain accurate data on bee distribution across the UK from pho...
Article
Full-text available
Despite the recent plethora of studies investigating biotic implications of climate change, most research has been undertaken without the need for change being quantified. Failure to link observed responses to selection pressure is a fundamental omission because whether change is appropriate cannot then be determined. We use almost 7,000 records to...
Article
Full-text available
Research using biometric data relies on consistent measurements within, and often among, observers. However, research into the relative importance of intra- and inter-observer variability is limited. More importantly, the influence of biometric variability on accurate quantification of biometric-based condition indices has not been analysed: it is...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Social network sites can provide useful resources for scientific research, especially in engaging citizen scientists in research. However, much citizen science work in biodiversity can be inaccurate due to poor identification and misreporting of information. Here we present an outline of a method that uses the photo-sharing website Flickr for mappi...
Article
Full-text available
Designing manipulative ecological experiments is a complex and time-consuming process that is problematic to teach in traditional undergraduate classes. This study investigates the effectiveness of using a computer simulation — the Virtual Rocky Shore (VRS) — to facilitate rapid, student-centred learning of experimental design. We gave a series of...
Article
Full-text available
Evolution is often considered a gradual hill-climbing process, slowly increasing the fitness of organisms. Here I investigate evolution of homing behaviour in simulated intertidal limpets. While the simulation of homing is only a possible mechanism by which homing may have evolved, the process allows an investigation of how evolution may occur over...
Article
Darwin's On the Origin of Species [1 • Darwin C.R. On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. John Murray, London1859 • Google Scholar ] introduced the world to the most fundamental concept in biological sciences — evolution. However, in the 150 years following publicati...
Article
Open source software has dramatically reduced the cost of computing. Initiatives to replicate this cost reduction in educational software have initially been slow to take off. Here the development and release of open educational resources are considered and the problems of overcoming issues of shared copyright with, and liability of, the institutio...
Article
Full-text available
Biological organisms do not evolve to perfection, but to out compete others in their ecological niche, and therefore survive and reproduce. This paper reviews the constraints imposed on imperfect organisms, particularly on their neural systems and ability to capture and process information accurately. By understanding biological constraints of the...
Article
Full-text available
Multivariate statistical analysis is a powerful method of examining complex datasets, such as species assemblages, that does not suffer from the oversimplification prevalent in many univariate analyses. However, identifying whether data points on a multivariate plot are clustered is subjective, as there is no determination of significant difference...
Article
Full-text available
Many ecological communities exist in a stable state where, if undisturbed, no net change will occur in the populations or in the interactions between the component parts of the system. In this paper we present computational methods (evolutionary algorithms and random searches) to parameterize mathematical models that describe communities in stable...
Article
Full-text available
Evolution is often considered a gradual hill climbing process, slowly increasing the fitness of organisms. I investigate the evolution of homing behaviour in simulated intertidal limpets. In order to evolve path integration as a homing mechanism, a temporary reduction in an organism’s fitness is required – since high developmental costs occur befor...