Our researchers

© Mike Dodd

Our researchers

Our group have collected data from several hundred meadows throughout the UK over the past 30 years, working with a host of partners and volunteers. Using these data, we have explored changes in botanical communities that result from changes in meteorology, site management, hydrology and nutrient status. Find out more about the people involved below:

Image of David Gowing
Professor David Gowing

Professor David Gowing has studied floodplain meadows for over 30 years. He has won numerous research contracts from organisations such as Defra, RSPB, English Nature, the Environment Agency, the Natural Environment Research Council and the European Science Foundation. He has published widely, including several seminal papers in the world’s leading scientific journals. He is regularly called upon to advise conservation organisations, statutory authorities and landowners within the UK and has numerous collaborations internationally (e.g. Netherlands and South Africa).

In the course of his work, Professor Gowing has collected data from all of the major remaining stands of floodplain meadow in the UK. He and his collaborators have compiled a large dataset of historical records relating to the botanical composition, hydrological regime and nutrient status of these meadows. Such data allow ecological responses to our changing environment to be described and options for appropriate conservation management to be identified.

Image of Irina Tatarenko
Dr Irina Tatarenko

Dr Irina Tatarenko, FMP Research co-ordinator and Research Fellow at the Open University.

Irina is a professional botanist with more than 110 research papers published on the orchids of Russia and Japan, and latterly on meadow ecology in the UK.

She started her research career in 1982 studying great sphagnum bogs in Western Siberia, then doing rare orchid species in the Far East of Russia, before getting a job as Research Fellow at the Meadow Research Station in Moscow Province to concentrate on the plant communities on European floodplain meadows. She obtained a PhD in orchid population and mycorrhiza studies in 1991, and continued extensive research in various aspects of orchid biology across Russia and Japan, which resulted in a Dr of Science dissertation in 2008. She has published extensively on orchids across the globe.

Image of Clare Lawson
Dr Clare Lawson

Clare is a plant ecologist with over twenty years of research work in the areas of habitat restoration, the restoration of biodiversity on ex-arable land and the response of grassland ecosystems to environmental change.

Her current research focuses on the impact of water-regime and plant community composition on carbon storage in floodplain meadows and the natural capital of floodplains. She is a Lecturer in Environmental Sciences at the Open University and has wide-ranging experience in the planning, running, analysis and reporting of large-scale surveys, field and pot experiments and their application.

Image of Mike Dodd
Dr Mike Dodd

Dr Mike Dodd has a background in surveying and GIS and provides technical support to the team, helping with monitoring equipment and survey methods. He is responsible for the differential GPS and associated data.

He is the iSpot UK Curator based in the Faculty of Science at The Open University and has expertise in a number of groups of organisms. He supports the team on aspects of floodplain meadow ecology.

He is a talented photographer with over 25 years' experience in teaching and research including writing OU Science and digital photography courses, and supplies the FMP with the majority of the images that are used across the project.


Image of Dr Yoseph Araya
Dr Yoseph Araya

Dr Yoseph Araya, is a Senior Lecturer in Ecology & Environmental Sciences within the Ecosystems and Biodiversity Research discipline. His particular research interest is in the functional relationships between plants and their environment (particularly water and nutrients). He is appreciative of the biological as well as the social / human aspect of ecosystem services, which is reflected in his enthusiastic science engagement and environmental education activities

Image of Hilary Wallace
Hilary Wallace

Hilary has extensive experience of botanical survey and monitoring in a range of UK habitats. She has worked with the Open University for more than 25 years, surveying and analysing floodplain meadows and their particular plant communities. She has been instrumental in researching and revising the definitions of floodplain meadow plant communities in England, Wales and Scotland. Latterly she has been producing new plant species and habitat identification guides.


Image of Mandy Dyson
Dr Mandy Dyson

Mandy is a Behavioural Ecologist and her primary interest lies with animal communication and sexual selection. She has worked with the Floodplain Meadows Partnership latterly looking at the relationship between bumblebees and snake’s-head fritillaries on floodplain meadows.

PhD students

The Floodplain Meadows Partnership and the Open University support PhD students working on different aspects of floodplain meadows. PhD opportunities are advertised annually with application deadlines in January and you can find details of current opportunities on the Open University website.

View the video below to see some hay sampling PhD work in action.

Image of a PhD student taking measurements in a field