Dr Alan Puttock
Associate Research Fellow


Research interests

My main interest is in land use or vegetation change and the connected alterations in ecosystem structure and function. I take an interdisciplinary approach to my research, combining: field work, laboratory analysis, remote sensing and geographical information systems.

Research projects

Beaver Projects: Devon, Cornwall and Forest of Dean

Beavers act as ecohydrological engineers and it is believed they could play an important role in the management of water resources. To inform the debate surrounding the reintroduction of beavers in the United Kingdom, it is essential to understand the impacts beavers have upon hydrology and associated ecosystem services including: flood risk management, water quality and drinking water provision.

These research projects seek to monitor the environmental impacts of beaver reintroudction at controlled trial sites in Devon, Cornwall and the Forest of Dean. 

River Otter Beaver Trial

In 2015 Natural England granted a five year licence to monitor beavers living wild upon the River Otter, Devon. The impacts of Eurasian Beaver upon English river systems are currently poorly understood, with the outcome of this pilot study having significant implications for river restoration and management. This project, the first of its kind in England, is monitoring the impacts of beavers upon the River Otter catchment. 

The River Otter Beaver Trial is led by Devon Wildlife Trust working in partnership with The University of Exeter, the Derek Gow Consultancy, and Clinton Devon Estates. Funding for the ROBT comes from Devon Wildlife Trust, the Royal Society for Wildlife Trusts, Peter de Haan Charitable Trust, University of Exeter and from the generous donations from the public made to the Devon Beaver Appeal.  

Previous Research Projects

Culm Grasslands Project
Culm grasslands (or Rhôs pastures), are an internationally important example of semi-natural wet pasture, which can provide multiple ecosystem services. However, these landscapes have been heavily impacted by land use change, resulting in a significant reduction in their spatial extent. It is believed that the restoration of Culm grassland could deliver multiple benefits for water and soil resources in South West England. Ecosystem services provided by Culm grassland might include: improved water storage, flood risk management, cleaner water, enhanced carbon storage and improved biodiversity.

This study seeks to increase understanding of the hydrological functioning, soil and water quality of Culm grasslands. In so doing, it will establish a solid knowledge base, from which management of these critical landscapes can progress. The work is funded as a partnership project between Devon Wildlife Trust (Working Wetlands), the Environment Agency and the UK Higher Education Innovation fund.

Mires Project

This project is based in Exmoor and Dartmoor National Parks in the south west of the UK and is primarily funded by South West Water. The research will establish an evidence base for the effectiveness of moorland restoration across Exmoor and  Dartmoor between 2010 and 2020.  The project involves a number of monitoring sites, where high-resolution sensor networks and samplers are deployed to quantify changes in water table depths, discharge and water quality as a function of restoration (primarily ditch blocking).


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