Dr Regan Early
Senior Lecturer in Conservation Biology
+44 (0)1326 259289
Daphne du Maurier 3.057
Daphne du Maurier Building, University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, Penryn, Cornwall, TR10 9FE, UK
Office hours: During term time: Wednesday 14.00-15.00, and Friday 10.00-11.00.
During term time: Wednesday 14.00-15.00, and Friday 10.00-11.00.
I lead the FABio research group, which studies the effects of human activity on wildlife around the world. Our basic approach is to use patterns in species distributions to understand many aspects of species ecology – climate tolerances, biotic interactions, population dynamics, phenology – and how these will be affected by changes in climate and landscapes. We work at large scales, using computer models to study hundreds of species across countries and continents. We use our research to help guide conservation, evaluating the effectiveness of current and proposed management strategies, and working with social scientists to study how the choices that people make affect how conservation works. Finally, I think that the most useful science is that which bridges gaps between different research fields and I’m always open to considering new collaborations.
Broad research specialisms:
- The ecology of climate and landscape change
- Biological invasions
- Conservation planning
2018 – onwards: Senior Lecturer in Conservation Biology, University of Exeter, UK.
2014 – 2018: Lecturer in Conservation Biology, University of Exeter, UK.
2010 – 2014: FCT Postdoctoral Research Fellow. Position split between the Cátedra Rui Nabeiro (Biodiversity Research Chair) at the University of Évora, Portugal, and the Natural History Museum in Madrid, Spain. Mentor: Miguel Araújo.
2008 – 2010: Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Brown University, USA. Mentor: Dov Sax.
2007: Independent Researcher (funded by a British Ecology Society Small Project Grant), Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid, Spain.
Research group links
Using naturalised species to understand limits on species geographic ranges: Are a million species at risk of extinction from climate change, as some research suggests? One problem with evaluating this risk is that most information on the effects of climate on species distributions comes from species current native distributions. The effects of climate are therefore mixed up with the effects of dispersal limitations, landscape suitability, and biotic interactions, among other factors. Species that have naturalised outside their native range have often left their non-climatic limitations behind, and provide a wonderful independent dataset to test climate-change risk assessments. My research has found that the direct effects of climate change on species distributions may be much smaller than we expected. But the indirect effects of climate change via changing ecological communities and landscapes may be much greater. A million species may be at risk, but not in the way that we thought. Now that I’ve modeled the effects of climate on native and naturalised species, it’s time to get into the field and test out how non-climatic limitations on species ranges might threaten or protect biodiversity under climate change.
Risk mapping of biological invasions and disease: Having an understanding of the likelihood that a new invasive species will emerge or a disease will break out in a given region would help managers take action to reduce the risk or respond to the event. In collaboration with colleagues from the USA and Spain, I am working on risk assessments of 21st century terrestrial biological invasions globally, and new outbreaks of Chytrid fungus infections in amphibians in the Iberian Peninsula. Take a look at a summary of some previous work relevant to this topic here.
Impacts of environmental change on community structure: A key impact of environmental change is to change the composition and abundance of species in ecological communities, i.e. community ‘structure’. Structural changes have knock-on effects for biodiversity and the ecosystem services on which human societies rely. It is therefore imperative to understand how ecological communities will respond to environmental change, in particular climate and land-use change. Project QuerCom is an international collaborative effort to study the species composition and functional profiles of cork oak (Quercus suber) forests in the Iberian Peninsula. We will ask how cork oak communities respond to different environmental conditions, and how best we can model these responses.
Impacts of climate and land-use change on European biodiversity: European biodiversity is threatened by simultaneous and drastic alterations in climate and how we use our land. Animal and plant species that are driven out of their historic ranges due to changing conditions may survive if they can find suitable habitats elsewhere. But the ecosystems we are accustomed to - the systems of species and environments that are characteristically ‘European’ - will be pulled apart as individual species go their separate ways. EC21C (“European Conservation for the 21st Century”) is a pan-European collaboration that unites ecosystem, population, and species distribution models, with theoretical ecology and social science. Our project evaluates the threats to biodiversity and ecosystem services, and the options for mitigating these threats. More information about the project and collaborators can be found here.
- 2014 FCT (Portuguese Science Foundation)
PI of QuerCom: “Environmental controls of community structure and ecosystem function: an assessment with cork oak (Quercus suber) communities in the Iberian Peninsula” (EXPL/AAG-GLO/2488/2013, €50,000)
- 2013 BiodivERsA pan-European project
PI of EC21C: “European Conservation for the 21st Century” (BIODIVERSA/0003/2011, €1.2 million)
- 2010 FCT (Portuguese Science Foundation)
Individual Post-doctoral Grant: “Species range shifts under 21st century climate change: limitations and conservation strategies”
- 2009 Brown University Environmental Change Initiative
Working group grant: “How does phenology determine species ranges and what are the implications for future ranges under climate change?”
- 2007 British Ecology Society
Small Ecological Project Grant: “Exploring the mechanisms of range limitation in a declining butterfly: implications for future distributions under climate change”
Publications by category
Publications by year
External Engagement and Impact
"Agreed standards for biodiversity models" Working Group 3 of HarmBio (Harmonizing Global Biodiversity Modelling), an EC COST project
Subject Editor - Ecology Letters
February 2014: Institute for Integrative Biology, University of Liverpool, UK.
November 2013: Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Linkoping University, Sweden.
April 2013: CIBIO, Porto, Portugal.
March 2013: Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, Madrid, Spain.
May 2012: Annual Tuartha lecture, Yi Fu Tuan lecture series, University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA.
May 2012: Climate, People, and the Environment Program at the Nelson Institute for environmental studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA.
February 2011: Ecology and Evolution Seminar Series, Imperial College, Silwood Park, UK.
My research has been featured on media aimed at both scientists and the public, including the BBC
- BIO2406 (Biodiversity and Conservation) - module coordinator
- BIO3419 (Yukon and Alaska field course) - module coordinator
- BIO3411 (Science in Society) - lecturer