Contact Details

Contact Details

Associate Professor
in Biosciences

Department of Biosciences
Wallace Building
Swansea University
Singleton Park
SA2 8PP, U.K.

Tel: +44 (0)1792 295 443
eml: m.s.fowler@swansea.ac.uk

Whatever of my work is judged worthy of publication, I do not want my name to appear there. (Pierre de Fermat, 1637)
I don't care to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member. (Groucho Marx, 1959)

About Me

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I am an Associate Professor at the Dept of Biosciences in Swansea University, with a research focus on how species interactions and stochastic environmental variability combine to influence different types of ecological stability and invasive species dynamics.

Recent and ongoing research projects include: (i) investigating eco-evolutionary dynamics in stage-structured populations, collaborating with Steve Sait (University of Leeds) and his Plodia moth system (NERC funded) (ii) developing our understanding of booms, busts and other dynamics in invasive species dynamics (with the InDyNet working group); (iii) Integrating ecosystem resilience into coastal planning for the persistence of natural flood protection and wetland ecosystem services (with the RESILCOAST project); (iv) developing and applying non-linear statistical models to demonstrate how coexistence can be influenced by long term climate change in sympatric, competing bird species (with Nils Chr. Stenseth and Joel Durant), (v) investigating fisheries discards as a coloured resource for endangered Mediterranean seabird populations (with Daniel Oro), (vi) Contrasting different intrinsic dynamics with linear and non-linear methods in classical Diversity–Biomass Stability models, (with Veijo KaitalaJouni Laakso and Lasse Ruokolainen),

Before moving to Swansea, I worked with the Population Ecology Group at IMEDEA in Mallorca (2009-12), whose work focuses on the demography of endangered species, with particular emphasis on Mediterranean seabirds and reptiles. I am interested in the best ways to address species- and spatial interactions with environmental variation in ecology. I aimed to link the theoretical work with the PEG's more applied approach to population biology, through mathematical modelling, time-series anaylsis and the development of appropriate statistical models.

Prior to this, I worked in the Integrative Ecology Unit in Helsinki with Profs. Esa Ranta & Veijo Kaitala, looking at density dependent dispersal and the Allee effect; interactions between maternal effects and dispersal and rewiring small world dispersal networks amongst other things. I was also interested in the effects of long- and short-term environmental change on population dynamics - how the colour and strength of environmental variation can affect population dynamics and extinction processes.

Shifting synchrony in a Canada lynx time series.
Different lynx populations in North America may change in their relative synchrony with each other, as a result of asymmetric dispersal between populations. Two patches that are initially out of phase with each other gradually drift into perfect phase, before shifting again out of phase.
Coloured Environmental Variation.
Fluctuations in environmental variables may have some temporal structure in them, so that changes are relatively fast (blue), slow (red) or truly random (white).

I carried out my undergraduate and PhD research at the University of Glasgow, with Prof. Graeme Ruxton & Dr. Jan Lindström. My PhD. thesis is titled 'Interactions between density dependence and dispersal', and I used mathematical models and computer simulations to look at a variety of subjects within theoretical ecology. In particular, I was interested in studying the Allee effect, competition within communities and lynx population dynamics, all within a spatial context. As well as the modelling, I carried out some experimental and statistical work assessing wing production and density dependence in the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum.

Postgraduate Research Supervision

        I am currently (co-) supervising the following Postgrad students:

Past Research Students

I supervised Lasse Ruokolainen from November 2005 to October 2009 for his PhD. thesis, titled Ecological communities in variable environments: dynamics and diversity under coloured environmental stochasticity which was concerned with developing models that examined species/community fluctuations and persistence in variable environments, using Niche and Neutral theory. Lasse succcessfully defended in October 2009 against his opponent, Dr. Andrew Beckerman.

Lindy Whitehouse studied for her MRes thesis with me from 2013-14, investigating "How successful are fisheries community co-management schemes? A meta-analysis of socio-economic and biological indicators across the globe". Lindy has just completed her PhD at the University of Regina, Canada. Her MRes thesis is now published here!

Harvey Jones, MRes project. "Modelling the cross-ecosystem impacts of fisheries discards", Jan 2015 – Sept 2016.

Tom Fairchild successfully defended his PhD. thesis "The causes and consequences of variation in different dimensions of biodiversity on rocky shores" in Feb 2018. Tom is currently carrying out a post-doc with Dr John Griffin on coastal issues.

Danis Kiziridis successfully defended his PhD. thesis "Modelling direct biotic interactions, with a focus on filamentous fungi" in July 2018.

Anna Rawlings successfully defended her PhD. thesis "The forgotten ecosystem engineers: community and functional ecology of pioneer wood decay fungi in the canopy of beech trees" in early 2019 (co-supervised with Dr Dan Eastwood).

Alejandra Garcia Cabanillas successfully defended her MRes project "Rewiring evolutionary games: how does cooperation survive in a small world?" in January 2019. She will start her PhD at the University of Strathclyde in October 2019.

Teaching & Service

  • I co-ordinate the postgraduate module Science Skills and Research Methods (BIOM25B, including the Introduction to Environmental Data Analysis with R sessions). I also teach on the undergraduate module Core Skills for Biological Sciences (BIO109) and enjoy myself teaching in the jungle and coral reef environments in Tropical Ecology & Conservation field trip module in Borneo (BIO347).
  • I also taught and co-ordinated the Introduction to Ecological Modelling course while in Helsinki. The Link takes you to a page containing example presentations & lectures given in this course in 2008.
  • I was the Programme Director for Swansea University's taught MSc course: Environmental Biology: Conservation and Resource Management course until September 2017. I continue to act as Admissions Tutor for this course.
  • I am Examinations Officer for the Department of Biosciences.
  • I am part of Biosciences Athena SWAN Self-assessment Team.


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You can check out my publications and papers that cite them on Google Scholar, or read my (no longer updated) blog on SciLogs. Please email me if you can't access any of the papers.


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  • Try out the Theoretical Population Dynamics discussion forum, over at Nature Network,. What is a population? Can we come up with a consensus about the best way to deal with population dynamics? Do we need to worry about structure in population dynamics? I'd say 'yes' and 'no', but not necessarily in that order.
  • The Population Ecology Group at IMEDEA, Mallorca. 3 great years reinforcing the typical theoretician's stereotype that the real world is just too damn messy.
  • The Integrative Ecology Unit in Helsinki. I spent 7 enjoyable years working with IKP.
  • The Journal of Negative Results, E&EB. An innovative journal which acts as an important forum for publishing negative or non-significant results which are likely to have important consequences in the fields of ecology & evolutionary biology. I am an associate editor for this journal, so please consider submitting here!
  • NCVTraduccions. Human translation services from English into Catalan/Spanish.
  • My personal page A lighthearted look at my time in the Finnish gulags. Pictures, poetry, pie and beans.
  • Theoretically Speaking, my SciLogs blog, where I spew forth about things that interest me. Updated irregularly.
 Species identification test: Beijing, China

Feel free to e-mail me: m.s.fowler@swansea.ac.uk

Page created by Mike S Fowler.
Last updated 11/06/2019