Kevin Watts, BSc, PhD

Senior Landscape Ecologist & Head of Land Use and Ecosystem Services (LUES) Research Group

Kevin Watts

Email: kevin.watts@forestry.gsi.gov.uk

Tel: +44 (0)300 067 5600
Tel direct: +44 (0)300 067 5756
Fax: +44 (0)1420 23653

Address:
Forest Research
Alice Holt Lodge
Farnham
Surrey GU10 4LH
UK

Research Gate: Kevin_Watts3
Google Scholar: Kevin Watts
Twitter: @watts_km

Dr Kevin Watts joined Forest Research in 2002, after completing his PhD at the Countryside and Community Research Unit, University of Gloucestershire. He is currently Senior Landscape Ecologist at Forest Research and Head of the Land Use and Ecosystem Services (LUES) Research Group. He was also awarded an honorary Senior Lectureship at the University of Stirling in 2014.

Current role

Senior Landscape Ecologist

Kevin’s applied research as a landscape ecologist is focussed on understanding the impact of land use and climate change on the biodiversity and the resilience of wooded landscapes, with the aim of informing policy and practice.

His work utilises spatial models, tools, indicators and simulations to explore and predict potential impacts of land use and climate change scenarios. This work is coupled with empirical studies on species movement, landscape genetics and field experiments to ensure his work is underpinned by a strong evidence base.

Much of this work has been developed through joint projects and the co-supervision of PhD studies with a wide networks of collaborators, most recently with the Universities of Stirling, Aberdeen, York, Reading and Southampton.

Head of Land Use and Ecosystem Services (LUES) Research Group
Kevin also leads and manages a team of around ten researchers within the LUES Research Group at FR. The group aims to deliver evidence, methods and tools which support policymakers and practitioners in their understanding of how land use and climate change affects the biodiversity, resilience and ecosystem services of wooded landscapes now and in the future

Current projects

  • What contributes to resilience? Understanding & measuring biodiversity and its influence on woodland ecosystem resilience
    Work Package leader on the FC-funded project as part of Programme 1.
  • WrEN (Woodland Creation and Ecological Networks)
    Co-Principal Investigator on a major field-based project with collaborators from Stirling University (link to new FR WrEN web page).
  • Managing landscapes for biodiversity during rapid climate change
    Partner/sub-contractor on NERC funded project lead by Aberdeen University
  • SCALEFORES (Scaling Rules For Ecosystem Service Mapping)
    Partner/sub-contractor on European ERC funded project lead by Southampton University

Affiliations and responsibilities

  • Member of the International Association for Landscape Ecology UK (IALE)
  • Member of the British Ecological Society (BES) and the Conservation Special Interest Group (SIG)
  • Member of the Woodland Trust External Conservation Advisory Group
  • Honorary Senior Lecturer at the University of Stirling

Research areas

  • Development and application of landscape ecology tools and decision support systems
  • Assessment of functional connectivity
  • Development of habitat networks
  • Studies of land cover change
  • Species–based studies, including movement studies, metapopulation dynamics & landscape genetics.

Main recent publications

Peer reviewed journals

Fuentes-Montemayor, E., Watts, K., Macgregor, N.A., Lopez-Gallego, Z. & J. Park, K. (2017) Species mobility and landscape context determine the importance of local and landscape-level attributes. Ecological Applications, 27, 1541–1554.

Fuller, L., Fuentes-Montemayor, E., Watts, K., Macgregor, N.A., Bitenc, K. & Park, K.J. (2017) Local-scale attributes determine the suitability of woodland creation sites for Diptera. Journal of Applied Ecology.

Whytock, R.C., Fuentes-Montemayor, E., Watts, K., Barbosa De Andrade, P., Whytock, R., French, P., Macgregor, N. & Park, K.J. (2017) Bird community responses to habitat creation in a long-term, large-scale natural experiment. Conservation Biology.

Procter, D.S., Cottrell, J.E., Watts, K., A’Hara, S.W., Hofreiter, M. & Robinson, E.J.H. (2016) Does cooperation mean kinship between spatially discrete ant nests? Ecology and Evolution.

Synes, N.W., Brown, C., Watts, K., White, S.M., Gilbert, M.A. & Travis, J.M.J. (2016) Emerging Opportunities for Landscape Ecological Modelling. Current Landscape Ecology Reports.

Watts, K., Fuentes-Montemayor, E., Macgregor, N.A., Peredo-Alvarez, V., Ferryman, M., Bellamy, C., Brown, N. & Park, K.J. (2016) Using historical

woodland creation to construct a long-term, large-scale natural experiment: the WrEN project. Ecology and Evolution, 6, 3012–3025.

Watts, K., Vanhala, T., Connolly, T. & Cottrell, J. (2016) Striking the right balance between site and landscape-scale conservation actions for a woodland insect within a highly fragmented landscape: A landscape genetics perspective. Biological Conservation, 195, 146–155.

Oliver, T.H., Smithers, R.J., Beale, C.M. & Watts, K. (2016) Are existing biodiversity conservation strategies appropriate in a changing climate? Biological Conservation, 193, 17–26. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2015.10.024

Procter, D.S., Cottrell, J., Watts, K., Robinson E.J.H (2015) Do non-native conifer plantations provide benefits for a native forest specialist, the wood ant Formica lugubris? Forest Ecology and Management doi:10.1016/j.foreco.2015.07.034

Fuentes-Montemayor, E., Peredo-Alvarez, V.M., Watts, K. & Park, K.J. (2015) Are woodland creation schemes providing suitable resources for biodiversity? Woodland moths as a case study. Biodiversity and Conservation, 24, 3049–3070.

Synes, N., Watts, K., Palmer, S., Bodedi, G., Barton, K., Osborne, P & Travis, J. (2015) A multi-species modelling approach to examine the impact of alternative climate change adaptation strategies on range shifting ability in a fragmented landscape, Ecological Informatics, June 2015.

Brown, I., Berry, P., Everard, M., Firbank, L., Harrison, P., Lundy, L., Quine, C., Rowan, J., Wade, R. and Watts, K. (2015). Identifying robust response options to manage environmental change using an Ecosystem Approach: A stress-testing case study for the UK. Environmental Science and Policy 52, 74-88.

Oliver, T.H., Smithers, R.J. and Watts, K. (2015). Corrigendum: A decision framework for considering climate change adaptation in biodiversity conservation planning. Journal of Applied Ecology 52 (2), 538. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1365-2664.12396

Humphrey, J. W., Watts, K., Fuentes-Montemayor, E., Macgregor, N. A., Peace, A. J. and Park, K. J. (2015). What can studies of woodland fragmentation and creation tell us about ecological networks? A literature review and synthesis. Landscape Ecology 30 (1), 21-50. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10980-014-0107-y.

Vanhala, T., Watts, K., A’Hara, S. and Cottrell, J. (2014). Population genetics of wood ants Formica aquilonia in Scotland: the effects of long-term forest fragmentation and recent reforestation. Conservation Genetics 15 (4), 856-868. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10592-014-0584-1.

Bocedi, G., Palmer, S. C. F., Pe’er, G., Heikkinen, R. K. , Matsinos, Y. G., Watts, K. and Travis, J.M.J. (2014). RangeShifter: a platform for modeling spatial eco-evolutionary dynamics and species’ responses to environmental changes. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 5 (4), 388-396. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/2041-210X.12162.

Stevenson-Holt, C.D., Watts, K., Bellamy, C., Nevin, O.T. and Ramsey, A.D. (2014). Defining Landscape Resistance Values in Least-Cost Connectivity Models for the Invasive Grey Squirrel: A Comparison of Approaches Using Expert-Opinion and Habitat Suitability Modelling. PLoS ONE 9 (11), e112119. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0112119

Moseley, D., Marzano, M., Chetcuti, J. and Watts, K. (2013). Green networks for people: Application of a functional approach to support the planning and management of greenspace. Landscape and Urban Planning 116, 1-12. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2013.04.004.

Quine, C., Bailey, S.A. and Watts, K. (2013). Sustainable forest management in a time of ecosystem services frameworks: common ground and consequences. Journal of Applied Ecology 50 (4), 863–867. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1365-2664.12068.

Stevenson, C., Ferryman, M., Nevin, O.T., Ramsey, A., Bailey, S. and Watts, K. (2013). Using GPS telemetry to validate least-cost modelling of grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) movement within a fragmented landscape. Ecology and Evolution 3 (7), 2350–2361. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ece3.638.

Eycott, A.E., Stewart, G.B., Buyung-Ali, L. M., Bowler, D. E., Watts, K. and Pullin, A.S. (2012). A meta-analysis on the impact of different matrix structures on species movement rates. Landscape Ecology 27 (9), 1263-1278. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10980-012-9781-9.

Oliver, T.H., Smithers, R.J., Bailey, S., Walmsley, C.A. and Watts, K. (2012). A decision framework for considering climate change adaptation in biodiversity conservation planning. Journal of Applied Ecology 49 (6), 1247-1255. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1365-2664.12003.

Eycott, A. E., Marzano, M. and Watts, K. (2011). Filling evidence gaps with expert opinion: The use of Delphi analysis in least-cost modelling of functional connectivity. Landscape and Urban Planning 103 (3-4), 400-409 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2011.08.014.

Thomas, C.D., Hill, J.K., Anderson, B.J., Bailey, S., Beale, C.M., Bradbury, R.B., Bulman, C.R., Crick, H.Q.P., Eigenbrod, F., Griffiths, H.M., Kunin, W.E., Oliver, T.H., Walmsley, C. a., Watts, K., Worsfold, N.T. & Yardley, T. (2011) A framework for assessing threats and benefits to species responding to climate change. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 2, 125–142. http://doi.wiley.com/10.1111/j.2041-210X.2010.00065.x

Watts, K., Eycott, A.E., Handley, P., Ray, D., Humphrey, J.W. and Quine, C. (2010). Targeting and evaluating biodiversity conservation action within fragmented landscapes: An approach based on generic focal species and least-cost networks. Landscape Ecology 25 (9), 1305-1318. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10980-010-9507-9.

Brouwers, N.C., Newton, A.C., Watts, K. & Bailey, S. (2010) Evaluation of buffer-radius modelling approaches used in forest conservation and planning. Forestry, 83, 409–421.

Watts, K. and Handley, P. (2010). Developing a functional connectivity indicator to detect change in fragmented landscapes. Ecological Indicators 10,  552-557.

Book and book chapters (incl published conference proceedings)

Harmer, R., Watts, K. & Ray, D. (2015) A Hundred Years of Woodland Restoration in Great Britain: Changes in the Drivers That Influenced the Increase in Woodland Cover. Restoration of Boreal and Temperate Forests, Second Edition Integrative Studies in Water Management & Land Deve., pp. 299–320. CRC Press. http://dx.doi.org/10.1201/b18809-15

FC and FR publications including official statistics

Sing, L., Ray, D. & Watts, K. (2015) Ecosystem Services and Forest Management. Forestry Commission, Edinburgh. 

Stevenson, C., Watts, K., Nevin, O., Ramsey, A. & Bailey, S. (2013) Modelling Ecological Networks and Dispersal in Grey Squirrels. Forestry Commission, Edinburgh. 

Eycott, A.E. & Watts, K. (2011) Biodiversity in Fragmented Landscapes: Reviewing the Evidence on the Effects of Landscape Features on Species Movement. Forestry Commission, Edinburgh.

Contract and project reports

Moseley, D., Burton, V., Bellamy, C. & Watts, K. (2015) Evaluating the Functionality of Ecological Networks in the Brue Valley Living Landscape through the Assessment of Ecological Coherence and Resilience. Forest Research, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Park, K., Fuentes-Montemayor, E., Watts, K. & Macgregor, N. (2015) Woodland Creation and Ecological Networks. Phase 2: Milestone 4 - Defra Contract LM0315. University of Stirling.

Anderson, R., Watts, K., Riddle, N., Crosher, I. & Diack, I. (2014) An Assessment of the Afforested Peat Land in England and Opportunities for Restoration. Forest Research, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Brown, I., Harrison, P., Ashley, J., Berry, P., Everard, M., Firbank, L., Hull, S., Lundy, L., Quine, C., Rowan, J., Wade, R., Walmsley, S., Watts, K. & Kass, G. (2014) UK National Ecosystem Assessment Follow-On. Work Package Report 8: Robust Response Options: What Response Options Might Be Used to Improve Policy and Practice for the Sustainable Delivery of Ecosystem Services?. UNEP-WCMC, LWEC, UK.

Dandy, N., Ambrose-Oji, B., Handley, P. & Watts, K. (2013) Land-Manager Networks Project:  Work Package 2 Final Report - Network Analysis and Segmentation. Forest Research, Farnham, England.

Humphrey, J., Watts, K., Fuentes-Montemayor, E., Macgregor, N. & Park, K. (2013) The Evidence Base for Ecological Networks: Lessons from Studies of Woodland Fragmentation and Creation. Forest Research, Farnham, Surrey.

Eycott, A.E., Watts, K., Brandt, G., Buyung-Ali, L.M., Bowler, D., Stewart, G.B. & Pullin, A.S. (2010) Which Matrix Features Affect Species Movement? Systematic Review CEE 08-006 (ex SR No. 43). Collaboration for Environmental Evidence, Bangor, Wales, UK.

Tonti, D., Estreguil, C., Marchetti, M., Oehrmichen, K., Chirici, G., Troeltzch, K. & Watts, K. (2010) Linking and Harmonizing Forest Spatial Pattern Analyses at European, National and Regional Scales for a Better Characterization of Forest Vulnerability and Resilience (ed J.R.C.S. and T. Reports). Publication Office of the European Union, Luxembourg - http://dx.doi.org/10.2788/6495.

Watts, K., Handley, P., Eycott, A.E., Peace, A., Marzano, M., Scholefield, P. & Norton, L. (2010) Habitat Connectivity – Developing an Indicator for UK and Country Level Reporting. Phase 2: Production of the Indicator - Defra Contract  WC0716. Forest Research & Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

Trade journal and newsletter articles

Travis, J.M.J., Watts, K., Palmer, S.C.F., Aben, J., Synes, N.W. & Atkinson, N. (2017) Computer-aided landscape design: where is it best to plant trees outside woods? Wood Wise.

Moseley, D. and Watts, K. (2015). Green networks – using a landscape approach to plan green infrastructure for people and biodiversity. Town and Country Planning 84 (1), 34-38.

Watts, K. (2015) Going back in time to predict the future; using historic woodland creation to assess and benefit ecological networks. Biodiversity News, 70, 20–21.

Macgregor, N.A., Watts, K., Park, K., Fuentes-Montemayor, E. and Duffield, S. (2014). Studying past landscape change to inform future conservation. ECOS 35 (3/4), 53-59.

Watts, K. (2013) Using Historical Woodland Creation to Unpick the Ecological Networks Concept. Ecotype, Forest Research.

Scientific conferences: presentations or posters

Barbour, S., Bellamy, C., Burton, V., Moseley, D. & Watts, K. (2015) Ecological networks in practice: providing evidence for spatial planning and habitat management decisions with informative and intuitive indicators. Presentation at the ERT “Spatial Ecology and Conservation” Conference, 13th - 15th July 2015, University of Bristol, UK

Fuentes-Montemayor, E., Watts, K., Macgregor, N. & Park, K. (2015) Assessing the relative importance of local vs. landscape level actions to develop ecological networks. Presentation at the World Congress of the International Association for Landscape Ecology (IALE), Portland, Oregon, USA, 5th - 10th July 2015

Fuentes-Montemayor, E., Watts, K., Macgregor, N. & Park, K. (2015) Assessing the relative importance of local vs. landscape level actions to develop ecological networks. Presentation at the International Congress for Conservation Biology/European Congress for Conservation Biology, Montpellier, France, 2nd - 6th August 2015

Fuentes-Montemayor, E., Watts, K., Macgregor, N. & Park, K. (2015) Assessing the relative importance of local vs. landscape level actions to develop ecological networks. Poster presentation at the British Ecological Society Symposium on “The Conservation and Science/Policy Interface: Challenges and Opportunities” at the Zoological Society of London, Regent’s Park, London, 16th April 2015

Oliver, T.H., Smithers, R.J., Walmsley, C., Bailey, S., Beale, C. & Watts, K. (2015) A decision framework for considering climate change adaptation in biodiversity conservation planning. Poster presentation at the British Ecological Society Symposium on “The Conservation and Science/Policy Interface: Challenges and Opportunities” at the Zoological Society of London, Regent’s Park, London, 16th April 2015

Park, K. & Watts, K. (2015) The role of large-scale experimentation in applied ecology and conservation. Thematic session at the British Ecological Society Annual Meeting, 13 – 16 December 2015, Edinburgh International Conference Centre, Edinburgh, UK

Smithers, R.J. & Watts, K. (2015) Should we focus on biodiversity hotspots or biodiversity coldspots? Presentation at the ERT “Spatial Ecology and Conservation” Conference, 13th - 15th July 2015, University of Bristol, UK

Synes, N.W., Watts, K., Palmer, S.C.F., Barton, K., Osborne, P.E. & Travis, J.M.J. (2015) Climate change adaptation to assist range shifting: the key considerations for achieving long term conservation goals at a landscape-scale. Presentation at the World Congress of the International Association for Landscape Ecology (IALE), Portland, Oregon, USA, 5th - 10th July 2015

Synes, N.W., Watts, K., Palmer, S.C.F., Bocedi, G., Brown, C., Osborne, P.E. & Travis, J.M.J. (2015) Coupled socio-ecological systems: linking land-use decision making to local ecology. Presentation at the World Congress of the International Association for Landscape Ecology (IALE), Portland, Oregon, USA, 5th - 10th July 2015

Watts, K., Fuentes-Montemayor, E., Macgregor, N. & Park, K. (2015) Ecological networks: nice idea but do we actually know enough? Presentation at the ERT “Spatial Ecology and Conservation” Conference, 13th - 15th July 2015, University of Bristol, UK.

Bellamy, C., Watts, K. & Altringham, J. (2014) Using multi-scale habitat suitability modelling to inform bat conservtaion: examples from seven protected areas in northern England. Presentation at the ERT “Spatial Ecology and Conservation” Conference, 17th - 20th June 2014, University of Birmingham, UK

Synes, N., Watts, K., Barton, K., Palmer, S.C.F. & Travis, J.M.J. (2014) landscape-scale conservation: the role of space and time in the realisation of biodiversity benefits. Presentation at the ERT “Spatial Ecology and Conservation” Conference, 17th - 20th June 2014, University of Birmingham, UK

Watts, K., Ferryman, M., Fuentes-Montemayor, E., Park, K. & Macgregor, N. (2014) Using past woodland creation to learn lessons about designing ecological networks. Presentation at Forest Research Seminar Series, NRS Research Station, Edinburgh, 14th November 2014

Oliver, T.H., Smithers, R.J. & Watts, K. (2013) A decision framework for considering climate change adaptation in biodiversity conservation planning. Presentation at the Joint European Conference on “Climate Change and Nature Conservation in Europe - an ecological, policy and economic perspective” held by the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)

Smithers, R.J., Watts, K. & Oliver, T.H. (2013) A decision framework for considering climate change adaptation in biodiversity conservation planning. Presentation for the “climate change adaptation and landscape planning” symposium at the IALE European Congress, 9th - 12th September 2013, Manchester, UK.

Watts, K., Fuentes-Montemayor, E., Humphrey, J., Peredo-Alvarez, V. & Park, K. (2013) Using historical woodland creation to unpick the ecological networks concept. Presentation for the “ecological networks in real landscapes” symposium at the IALE European Congress, 9th - 12th September 2013, Manchester, UK

Stevenson, C.D., Nevin, O.T., Watts, K., Ramsey, A.D., Bailey, S. & Sinclair, B. (2012) Sequence Variation and GPS Telemetry Validation of Least Cost Modelling for the Invasive Grey Squirrel Sciurus carolinensis. Presentation for the 3rd European Congress of Conservation Biology, 28 August - 1 September 2012, Glasgow, UK.

Watts, K. (2011) Connectivity and landscape-scale conservation. Invited paper for Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts seminar on “Landscape ecology”, 28th September 2011, Shrewsbury, UK.

Tonti, D., Chirici, G., Estreguil, C., Oehmichen, K., Troeltzsch, K., Watts, K. & Marchetti, M. (2010) Modelling the impact of landscape fragmentation on forest ecological functionality. Book of abstracts of the IUFRO Landscape Ecology Working Group International Conference: Forest Landscape and Global Change - New Frontiers in Management, Conservation and Restoration, September 21-27, 2010, Bragança (Portugal) (eds J.C. Azevedo, M. Feliciano, J. Castro, & M.A. Pinto).

Watts, K. & Handley, P. (2010) Beyond corridors: Integrating the whole landscape into connectivity conservation. Invited paper for Thematic session on “Promoting adaptation of species to global environmental change”, British Ecological Society Annual Meeting, 7th - 9th September 2010, University of Leeds, UK.

Watts, K., Handley, P., Scholefield, P., Eycott, A.E. & Peace, A. (2010) Changes in the functional connectivity of woodland habitats across Great Britain between 1990 and 2007. Invited paper for Symposium on “Quantifying the effects of forest fragmentation: implications for landscape planners and resource managers”, IUFRO Landscape Ecology Working Group International Conference, 21st - 27th September 2010, Bragança, Portugal.