Rothamsted Research

where knowledge grows


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 Articles

Rothamsted wins Silver at the Chelsea Flower Show

Our display on using flowers to minimise pesticide use and enhance biodiversity wins RHS award

Rothamsted scientists, Dr Sam Cook and Dr Jason Baverstock, have been awarded a Silver Flora Award by the Royal Horticultural society for their display on using flowers to minimise pesticide use and enhance biodiversity, in the Discovery category at the Chelsea Flower Show.


Peer reviewed publications from the Agroecology Department

See also

The State of Britain's Larger Moths

The 2013 publication of the State of Britain's Larger Moths, in collaboration with Butterfly Conservation, highlighted the negative trend in moth populations in the UK but painted a mixed picture for individual species. 

Wheldrake: 601 species in two years

RIS light-traps don't just catch moths. Julian Small at Wheldrake (Yorkshire) has been identifying as much of the catch as possible and, in two years, has notched up 600 species of insect and a spider.

Hungry hungry beetles

Carabids are ubiquitous in many landscapes, but can they lend a helping hand in agriculture? Do their eating habits serve a role?

Department Press Releases

A fast and easily achieved method for propagating disease-free willow spells good news for traditional breeding schemes

Scientists at Rothamsted Research have used a fast and easily achieved method for multiplying a wide range of willows. The method, a form of micro-propagation, produced more plants which were free of disease, in a shorter time, with less labour compared to traditional willow breeding methods. The disease-free plants were exported to, and grown in, Canada; a country, like many others, where the risk of the spread of willow borne diseases often causes a ban on importation.

Nocturnal migrant songbirds and moths sense the wind currents and use the wind differently to assist them with their journeys

Moths and songbirds have an internal compass to help them navigate during their high-flying nocturnal journeys between Europe and Africa.

New study sheds light on what’s happening in the cell walls of willow stems growing at an angle

A new study by Rothamsted Research scientists, who are strategically funded by the BBSRC, has discovered that gelatinous fibres (or G-fibres), which make up a tissue called the gelatinous layer (or ‘G-layer’) of willow reaction wood, can be highly enriched with a specific complex carbohydrate. This enrichment of the cell wall makes willow reaction wood different from that of its close relative, poplar.

Rothamsted Research plays a part in shaping Europe’s sustainable energy future

Professor Angela Karp, who leads Rothamsted Research’s strategic research programme ‘Cropping Carbon’, funded by the BBSRC, has played a significant role in the development of a new international report entitled ‘Bioenergy & Sustainability: bridging t

Ragweed pollen concentrations predicted to rise by 2050

Ragweed is an invasive plant from North America with highly allergenic pollen that is spreading northwards from Central Europe. Currently, instances when ragweed pollen loads across the UK are high enough to result in hayfever symptoms are rare. But can we expect these events to become more frequent and severe in the future in response to climate change?


Studentships vacancies


    This is an exciting opportunity to use ecology-driven science to understand why moths are in such dramatic decline and to offer solutions that can reverse these destabilising trends. The project will explore which environmental and biological factors are causing declines and how moths interact with plants as their host, as sources of nectar and as pollinators.

  • Exploring crop-weed allelopathic interactions in the grass weed Alopecurus myosuroides.

    Alopecurus myosuroides (black-grass) is a highly competitive grass weed in the UK. Due to widespread evolution of herbicide resistance, there is an urgent need for novel control options, with increasing interest in the potential for allelopathy to deliver management solutions. In the context of weed management, allelopathy is defined as ‘the adverse effect of a plant on other plants by means of the chemicals (allelochemicals) that it produces’.


Department People

title First Name Last Name Department Location
View Mrs Lynda Alderson Agroecology Harpenden
View Miss Izzadora Andrew Agroecology Harpenden
View Mr Timothy Barraclough Agroecology Harpenden
View Mr Glyn Barrett Agroecology
View Dr James Bell Agroecology Harpenden
View Mr David Brooks Agroecology Harpenden
View Mr Jonathan Carruthers Agroecology Harpenden
View Mr March Castle Agroecology, Plant Biology and Crop Science Harpenden
View Dr Jason Chapman Agroecology Harpenden
View Mrs Suzannah Chapman Agroecology Harpenden
View Miss Frances Cheesman Agroecology Harpenden
View Prof Lars Chittlea Agroecology Harpenden
View Mr Ian Clark Agroecology Harpenden
View Mr Guy Coleman Agroecology
View Dr David Comont Agroecology Harpenden
View Dr Sam Cook Agroecology Harpenden
View Miss Laura Crook Agroecology Harpenden
View Dr Jennifer Cunniff Agroecology Harpenden
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 Michael Easter Agroecology
View Mr Steve Freeman Agroecology, Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Mr Peter Fruen Agroecology Harpenden
View Mrs Qingling Fu Agroecology Harpenden
View Mr Alex Greenslade Biological Chemistry and Crop Protection, Agroecology Harpenden
View Mr James Greig Agroecology
View Mr Mike Hall Agroecology, Plant Biology and Crop Science Harpenden
View Dr Steven Hanley Agroecology Harpenden
View Mr Hu Hao Agroecology
View Dr Alison Haughton Agroecology Harpenden
View Dr Sandy Hey Plant Biology and Crop Science, Agroecology
View Dr Penny Hirsch Agroecology Harpenden
View Dr Gao Hu Agroecology
View Mr Richard Hull Agroecology Harpenden
View Miss Daniela Izera Agroecology Harpenden
View Dr Chris 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 Mr William Macalpine Agroecology Harpenden
View Mr Andrew Martin Agroecology
View Dr Timothy Mauchline Agroecology Harpenden
View Miss Helen Metcalfe Agroecology Harpenden
View Mr Andrew Moss Computational and Systems Biology, Plant Biology and Crop Science, Agroecology, Business Information Services, Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Dr Stephen Moss Agroecology Harpenden
View Miss Angela Nazare Agroecology
View Dr Paul Neve Agroecology Harpenden
View Miss Lieselot Nguyen Agroecology Harpenden
View Mr Henry Osim Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems, Plant Biology and Crop Science, Business Information Services, Biological Chemistry and Crop Protection, Computational and Systems Biology, Information Management Solutions, Agroecology Harpenden
View Mrs Susan Parker Agroecology
View Dr Judith Pell Agroecology Harpenden
View Mr Harry Ridgewell Agroecology
View Miss Rachel Rossiter 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 Dr Jonathan Storkey Agroecology Harpenden
View Miss Jennifer Swain Agroecology Harpenden
View Mr Mark Taylor Agroecology Harpenden
View Mr Martin Torrance Agroecology Harpenden
View Ms Roxane Trabattoni Agroecology Harpenden
View Prof Helmut Van Emden Agroecology
View Mr Paul Verrier Agroecology Harpenden
View Mr Nigel Watts Biological Chemistry and Crop Protection, Agroecology, Plant Biology and Crop Science, Business Information Services Harpenden
View Miss Trish Wells Agroecology Harpenden
View Dr Carly Whittaker Agroecology Harpenden
View Miss Karen Wright Agroecology Harpenden
View Dr Yanqi Wu Agroecology Harpenden
View Ms Nicola Yates Agroecology Harpenden