Former Oxford Brookes PhD student is leading author on latest butterfly research publication

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Butterfly PhD

Dr Joe Middleton-Welling completed his PhD ‘New approaches to understanding functional traits and butterfly responses to environmental change in Europe‘ at Oxford Brookes in 2019, supervised by Professor Tim Shreeve, within The Department of Biological and Medical Sciences. Joe is the first author on a multiauthor publication on ‘A new comprehensive trait database of European and Maghreb butterflies, Papilionoidea’ (Scientific Data (2020) 7:351). This paper has drawn on the expertise of 16 European researchers from 11 research centres in 7 European countries, a collaboration supported by sDiv, the Synthesis Centre of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle‐Jena‐Leipzig, Germany.  Joe explained;

“This publication is important for the future of conservation. It provides a new open-access resource, which assembles the existing information on the life-history, ecology and resource use of all the European and Maghreb butterflies to allow researchers to understand the variation in 217 character states of these 542 different butterfly species. This will hopefully allow us to get to grips with what butterfly traits make species more or less vulnerable to climate and land use change, and to help us understand why some species have different distribution histories at both continental and local scales. This comprehensive data also allows us to examine the evolution of traits within different butterfly groups.”


Joe (pictured above) is now a demonstrator and associate lecturer with the Department of Biological and Medical Sciences at Oxford Brookes and his future research plans are to carry on exploring the relationship between traits and conservation status of European butterflies, building on the work of his PhD. 

 “My PhD taught me how to combine large quantities of data and synthesise many different viewpoints in order to produce cutting edge research. It also provided me the opportunity to meet a network of scientists from around the world, without whom this research paper would not have been possible."