Elisa Fuentes-Montemayor


  • Craibstone Estate, Bucksburn, SRUC, Ferguson Building

    AB21 9YA Aberdeen

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students


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Personal profile

Personal profile

I’m an ecologist and conservation biologist investigating how human activities impact biological communities and ecosystem functioning. My main areas of expertise include animal ecology, woodland ecology, restoration ecology and spatial ecology. I have a track record investigating the consequences of anthropogenic disturbances (e.g. habitat loss and fragmentation) and the effectiveness of conservation actions (e.g. habitat restoration and implementation of agri-environment schemes) for biodiversity. 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 research is strongly applied, with a focus on finding effective ways to restore biodiversity (and associated ecosystem functions and services) in human-modified landscapes. 

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. 

Research interests

  • Applied ecology (e.g. finding effective ways to restore biodiversity and associated ecosystem functions and services in human-modified landscapes).
  • Animal ecology and conservation (mainly of bats, small non-volant mammals and invertebrates).
  • Landscape ecology (e.g. influence of landscape composition and configuration on biodiversity).
  • Effects of human disturbances on biodiversity (e.g. habitat fragmentation, agricultural intensification).
  • Evaluation of conservation actions for biodiversity (e.g. habitat restoration, agri-environment schemes).
  • Current work 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.



  • 2021-2022: Plant Health CentreImproving knowledge of Xylella fastidiosa vector ecology”. Fuentes-Montemayor (co-I); £71K.
  • 2021-2023: Leverhulme Trust Research Grant “Land-sharing vs. land-sparing: new insights from ecological-economic modelling”. Fuentes-Montemayor (co-I); £289K.
  • 2020-2024: NERC Highlight Topics “Restoring Resilient Ecosystems (RestREco)”. Fuentes-Montemayor (researcher co-I); £2M.
  • 2020-2022: British Deer Society Research Grant “Using camera traps to quantify the effect of deer on woodland restoration”. Fuentes-Montemayor (PI) £15K.


  • 2018-2019: Plant Health CentreIdentifying the presence of potential insect vectors of Xylella fastidiosa in Scotland”. Fuentes-Montemayor (co-I); £8K.
  • 2017-2018: Scottish Forestry Trust General Funding Award “Assessing the value of secondary woodlands for biodiversity: implications for woodland creation and management schemes”. Fuentes-Montemayor (PI); £7K.
  • 2017-2018: Sustainable Forestry (SCIO) Small Grant “Secondary woodland biodiversity value”. Fuentes-Montemayor (PI); £7K.
  • 2013-2020: University of Stirling, Forest Research, Natural England, Scottish Natural Heritage, National Forest Company, Defra, Woodland Trust and TarmacWoodland Creation and Ecological Networks (WrEN)”. Fuentes-Montemayor (co-I & named researcher); £850K.
  • 2011-2012: People’s Trust for Endangered Species UK Mammal Grant “Assessing the effectiveness of farm woodland creation schemes for bats”. Fuentes-Montemayor (named researcher); £12K.
  • 2009: Bat Conservation International Student Research Scholarship. “The influence of size, isolation and structure of woodland patches on bat populations within agricultural landscapes”. Fuentes-Montemayor (PI); $3K USD.
  • 2007-2011: CONACyT PhD Scholarship “The value of agri-environment schemes and farm woodland for bats and nocturnal insects”. Fuentes-Montemayor (personal award); University fees & student stipend.


I have experience lecturing and running practical sessions in MSc and undergraduate level modules. 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). I also supervise dissertation projects for undergraduate and MSc students (as main and co-supervisor), and co-supervise PhD students. 


I have supervised 15+ undergraduate and 10+ MSc dissertations to date, and co-supervised the following PhD projects:

  • 2014-2018: “Assessing the effects of landscape structure on woodland birds”. University of Stirling (funded by NERC IAPETUS DTP).
  • 2016-ongoing: (part-time) ”Bat populations in anthropogenic landscapes in Zambia”. University of Stirling (self-funded project).
  • 2019-ongoing: “Above and below-ground ecological linkages in temperate forest soils”. University of Stirling (co-funded by University of Stirling and Forest Research).
  • 2020-ongoing: “Does woodland use by bats depend on landscape context? Implications for woodland creation schemes”. University of Stirling (funded by NERC IAPETUS DTP).

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

Nov 2011Mar 2021


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