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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  People  /  Research Students  /  Jonathan Lewis-Phillips

Jonathan Lewis-Phillips


Jonathan Lewis.jpgDepartment of Geography
University College London
North-West Wing
Gower Street

Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 0527



Dr Carl Sayer
Mr Steve Brooks
Dr Jan Axmacher

Dr Geoff Hilton (Wildfowl and Wetland Trust)



Academic qualifications

2015 – Present University College London/ Natural History Museum London

PhD assessing the role of pond management in conserving farmland birds

2010 – 2011 University of East Anglia

MSc applied ecology and conservation

2004 – 2007 University of East Anglia

BSc ecology


2013 – 2015                Project manager, Norfolk Rivers Trust

2013 – 2014                Conservation Project Manager, Private Estate

2009 – Present            Environmental journalist and photographer, Freelance (including commissions for World Wildlife Fund, Photography Monthly magazine, Professional Photographer magazine)


Voluntary posts

2010 Research assistant, Private estate, South Africa

2010 Research assistant, Fauna Forever, Peru



PhD title: Contribution of pond management to avian diversity and abundance on farms in lowland England

My research focuses on British farmland bird populations which have declined by 54% since 1970. Intensification of agriculture and associated declines of habitat heterogeneity have been linked to the depletion of the three main requirements of birds: availability of nesting habitat, invertebrate abundance over the breeding season and seed abundance throughout winter. Currently, a majority of the UK’s agricultural ponds have not been managed for several decades and as a result are highly terrestrialised. Research has shown that managed ponds support higher levels of invertebrate, plant and amphibian diversity and abundance. However, the role traditionally managed farmland ponds potentially play in supporting farmland bird populations remains largely unexplored. My project investigates the year-round contribution of a complex of managed and unmanaged farmland ponds in North Norfolk towards supporting avian diversity and abundance, invertebrate abundance and seed abundance. Furthermore, a set of unmanaged ponds will be managed and the response of avian communities will be monitored over a two-year period.

The results of my PhD research will hopefully contribute towards our knowledge of how pond management supports farmland bird communities. A long term goal is that this knowledge will help shape future agri-environment subsidy policy, which currently offers little in the way of financial returns for farmers managing their ponds.


My research is publicly funded through the NERC Doctorial Training Programme. Having personally experienced the importance of knowledge sharing whilst working as a conservation project manager, one of my main aims is to share information both through formal academic routes and public outreach events, especially those aimed at the farming community.



2016                Assisting with UCL MSc aquatic ecology field trip (North Norfolk)

2013-2015       Assisting with Riverfly (aquatic invertebrates) monitoring project teaching and preparation

2014 – 2015    Managing training programme for a new citizen science smartphone app project

2007 – 2009    Ecology training, South Korea