Elisa Fuentes-Montemayor


  • Craibstone Estate, Bucksburn, SRUC, Ferguson Building

    AB21 9YA Aberdeen

    United Kingdom


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Personal profile

Research interests

I’m an ecologist and conservation biologist investigating the impacts of human activities on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. My main areas of expertise include the effects of anthropogenic disturbances (e.g. habitat loss and fragmentation) on biodiversity, the evaluation of conservation actions (e.g. habitat restoration and implementation of agri-environment schemes) for biodiversity, animal ecology, woodland ecology, restoration ecology and spatial ecology. To address these subjects, I study a variety of taxa in human-modified (mainly agricultural) landscapes, using a combination of field surveying techniques, spatial sensing technologies, and novel analytical approaches. My work has a strong focus on applied ecology and conservation, and brings together academics, policy makers, industry and organisations involved in conservation and environmental management.

My current research programme focuses on examining the long-term effects of past woodland creation on current biodiversity and ecosystem functioning to inform future land-use management strategies that maximise environmental benefits accrued by reforestation. I’m particularly interested in understanding how woodland creation can contribute to jointly tackling the biodiversity and climate crises, and investigating trade-offs and synergies between alternative reforestation strategies (e.g. planting fast-growing conifers for carbon sequestration vs. restoring native semi-natural woodlands to alleviate the biodiversity crisis).

I also co-lead the Woodland Creation and Ecological Networks (WrEN) project, a ‘natural experiment’ designed to study the effects of long-term, large-scale woodland creation on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Through WrEN, I investigate biodiversity responses to woodland creation over large spatial (over 15,000 km2) and temporal (up to 160 years) scales, with the aim to assess the relative importance of local vs. landscape-level habitat management to restore biodiversity and ecosystem functions in fragmented landscapes. WrEN originated as part of a Research Fellowship I was awarded by the University of Stirling in 2013, and is now a large across-sectors collaboration co-led by the University of Stirling and Forest Research in partnership with academics, conservation organisations, industry and government bodies.

Another string of my research focuses on evaluating the effectiveness of agri-environment schemes (AES) for conserving and restoring biodiversity in agricultural landscapes. These financial incentives – paid by Governments for farmers to adopt environmentally-sensitive agricultural practices on their land – aim to counteract the negative effects of intensive agriculture on biodiversity. However, most AES are largely designed for birds, some invertebrates and floral species, and there is little information on the contribution that AES are making in providing suitable resources for other taxonomic groups. My PhD thesis (University of Stirling, UK; funded by CONACYT, Mexico) focused on assessing the potential benefits that bats and their insect prey species gain from the implementation of AES.


I have experience lecturing and running practical sessions in MSc and undergraduate level modules, supervising dissertation projects for undergraduate and MSc students (as main and co-supervisor), and co-supervising PhD students. I have taught on subjects such as: Animal Ecology (e.g. role of life-history traits in determining species responses to environmental change); Conservation Biology (e.g. impacts of anthropogenic disturbances and conservation actions on biodiversity); Applied Ecology (e.g. associations between habitat management, habitat structure and species diversity); Landscape Ecology (e.g. influence of landscape composition and configuration on biological communities); Biogeography (e.g. applications of island biogeography theory for the spatial design of habitat networks); Environmental Policy (e.g. agri-environment schemes); Biology Field Skills (surveying methods and species identification skills for bats, small mammals, invertebrates and plants, including on residential field courses).

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, University of Stirling

1 Sep 200731 Aug 2011

Award Date: 1 Nov 2011

Master, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico

1 Sep 20041 Jan 2007

Award Date: 1 Jan 2007

Bachelor, Universidad de las Americas Puebla

1 Sep 19991 Dec 2003

Award Date: 1 Dec 2003

External positions

Biological & Environmental Sciences, School of Natural Sciences, University of Stirling

1 Jan 2013 → …


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