Imperial College London


Faculty of Natural SciencesDepartment of Life Sciences (Silwood Park)

Professor of Ecology







MunroSilwood Park





See also my Personal and Group WebPage.

Research Interests

My current research interests are focused on quantifying the impacts of stressors (climate change, acidification, eutrophication, species invasions and habitat alteration) on the structure and functioning of aquatic ecosystems. I am currently collaborating with a range of expert from different disciplines in order to understand the links between patterns and processes in natural systems, and to develop a conceptual framework within which to advance ecological theory. I am particularly interested in how "metabolic theory" can be applied to complex ecological systems. Body size and temperature determine basal metabolic rate, and the consequences of this are manifested across multiple levels of biological organisation, from molecules, to individuals, to entire ecosystems. Allometric scaling relationships are common in nature (e.g. body size versus ingestion rate, growth rate, interaction strength etc.) and can have potentially profound effects on the structure and dynamics of complex ecological networks (food webs, plant-pollinator networks etc.) and their ability to withstand perturbations.

In parallel with this ongoing work I am also developing new individual-based approaches to ecological networks. Most food webs published to date ignore the fact that trophic interactions occur between individuals, even though this is the level at which feeding links are realised.  An individual-based perspective can reveal surprising differences from the traditional viewpoint. Ultimately, one of my aims of my research is to use it to address more applied issues: in particular, I am interested in how food webs and ecosystems respond to stressors - especially climate change. If we can understand the underlying mechanisms then we are in a better position to be able to conserve, or even restore, damaged ecosystems.  Much of my current research is now directed towards studying geothermally-heated streams in Iceland, to study the impacts of global warming on natural systems.  

Research Group and Grant Awards

Since 2005 I have been awarded >£7M of external grant funding as a Principal or Co-Investigator.  n 2012 I was awarded £3.7m, including £430k as PI on part of a larger consortium (£3m) NERC grant led by Isabelle Durance at Cardiff University and £700k on a NERC Standard Grant led by Dr Mark Ledger. I was awarded £511k in 2011 as PI for another NERC Standard grant ("Using individual metabolism and body size to predict climate warming impacts on aquatic food webs"; Woodward, Reuman, Petchey & Reiss).  In 2010 I was awarded >£1m as a Co-Investigatior on two NERC Standard grants (PIs: Jon Grey & Mark Trimmer). I was previously the Principal Investigator on a NERC Grant (£372k) "Biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationships in fresh waters: a food web perspective" (2006-2009).  I co-wrote another NERC Grant as the named PDRA (£338k [2005-2008]) investigating how the introduction of a top predator alters the structure and functioning of a stream food web and was awarded a further two years of funding (£575k [2008-2010) as Co-I under the NERC EHFI scheme to carry out an additional bottom-up manipulation of the same food web. In addition to the grants above, I have received >£500k from the European Science Foundation, the John Spedan Lewis Foundation, AXA Insurance, and NERC Open Case and NERC Algorithim studentships.

Research Collaborations

 I have a broad range of active and ongoing collaborations with many world experts in population, community and ecosystem ecology, including Dr Jose Montoya (CSIC, Barcelona), Prof. Mark Trimmer (Queen Mary University of London), Dr Dan Reuman (Imperial College, London), Prof. Owen Petchey (University of Zurich), Prof. Simon Jennings (CEFAS / University of East Anglia), Prof. Bo Ebenman (Linkoping University, Sweden) and Dr Nikolai Friberg (Aarhus University, Denmark). Our work has included investigating the mechanistic basis of biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationships and food web interactions, including measuring and predicting the possible impacts of climate change on natural ecosystems.


Previous and Current Postdoctoral Reasearch Assistants 

  1. Dr Francois Edwards (2005-2010) NERC funded [Principal Investigator - Dr J.I. Jones; Co-I - Dr G. Woodward]
  2. Dr Julia Reiss (2006-2009)  NERC funded [PI - Dr G. Woodward]
  3. Dr Gabriel Yvon-Durocher (2010-2012) NERC funded [PI - Dr M. Trimmer; Co-I Dr G. Woodward]
  4. Dr Nicola Ings (2011-2014) NERC funded [PI - Dr J. Grey; Co-I Dr G. Woodward]
  5. Dr Eoin O'Gorman (2011-2014)  NERC funded [PI - Dr G. Woodward; Co-Is Dr D. Reuman, Dr O. Petchey]
  6. Dr Dan Perkins (2012-2015)  NERC funded [PI - Dr G. Woodward; Co-I Dr J. Grey; Project Leader - Dr I. Durance]
  7. tbc (2012-2015)  NERC funded [PI - Dr M. Ledger, Dr. M. Trimmer; Co-I- Dr G. Woodward]
  8. tbc (2013-2015)  NERC funded [PI - Dr. M. Trimmer, Dr M. Ledger; Co-I- Dr G. Woodward]
  9. tbc (2013-2014) NERC funded [PI - Dr M. Trimmer; Co-I Dr G. Woodward]


PhD students (inc. first employment post PhD)

  1. Dr Sally Hladyz (2002-2006, with Prof. Paul Giller, UCC - EU 5th Framework funded); see above (CSIRO, Australia)
  2. Dr Katrin Layer (2005-2010; with Prof. A. Hildrew - QMUL Studentship) "Food web responses to changing acidity in freshwaters" (German Government - Environmental Consultancy)
  3. Dr Gabriel Yvon-Durocher (2006 -2010; with Dr J. Montoya & Dr M. Trimmer - NERC funded)  "Climate change impacts on nutrient cycling and ecosystem metabolism in mesocosms" (NERC Post-doc with Trimmer, Reuman & Woodward at QMUL)
  4. Dr Daniel Perkins (2006 - NERC funded) "Climate change impacts on biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relations" (Visiting Lecturer at University of Surrey and QMUL)
  5. Dr Rasmus Lauridsen (2005 part-time & with Prof. A. Hildrew & Dr J.I. Jones; QMUL Studentship) "Consumer-resource stoichiometry in stream food webs" (NERC Research Assistant with Jones, Trimmer, Grey & Woodward at QMUL) 
  6. Dr Rick Hayes (2007; with Dr J. Grey - QMUL Studentship) "Impacts of exotic invasive crayfish in U.K. rivers"
  7. Dr Shaun Cotter (2006; part-time, with Prof. A. Hildrew - self-funded) "Impacts of watercress farming on chalk streams"
  8. Dr Jack Forster (2008; with Dr Andrew Hirst - NERC funded) - "Metabolic constraints on zooplankton life-history"
  9. Ms Doris Pichler (2008; with Dr Nikolai Friberg - NERC funded) "Climate change in Icelandic geothermal streams"
  10. Dr Rebecca Stewart (2008; with Dr Genoveva Esteban & Prof. Bland Finlay - NERC funded) - "Protist assemblages under simulated global warming scenarios"
  11. Mr Murray Thompson (2009; with Dr Steve Brooks & Dr Carl Sayer - John Lewis Partnership funded) - "The decline of riverflies in chalk rivers"
  12. Mr Gareth Jenkins (2010 - NERC funded)  "Recovery from acidification and trout invasion of a complex stream food web"
  13. Ms Liselotte Johansson (20 10 - NERI [Denmark] funded) "Global warming and freshwater food webs"
  14. Ms Aurora Samson (2011, with Prof. A. Hildrew & Jon Grey - NERC funded) "Methane as a carbon source in stream food webs"
  15. Mr Matteo Dossena (2011, with Dr M. Trimmer - AXA Insurance funded) "Predicting climate change impacts in complex ecosystems: a mesocosm approach" 
  16. Ms Georgina Adams (2011, with Dr D. Reuman & Prof. S. Jennings) "Developing individual-based approaches to assess size-structure in commercial fisheries"
  17. Ms Victoria Warren (2011, with Dr M. Trimmer - NERC funded) "Environmental warming impacts on biogeochemical cycles in freshwater mesocosms"
  18. Ms Clare Gray (2012, with Dr A. Ma, QMUL; Dr Michael Dobson, Freshwater Biological Association; Dr Francois Edwards, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology)  QMUL CASE “Developing a novel network-based approach to biomonitoring”
  19. Ms Xueke Lu (2012, with Dr A. Ma, QMUL) “Applying Information Theory to Ecological Networks"
  20. Mr Lei Zhao (2012)  Associate Student "Developing Network Approaches to Bioassessment in Chinese Freshwaters"
  21. Tbc (2013).  "Restoration of Chalk Rivers: Challenging Ecological Theory with Real-World Data

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Lu X, Gray C, Brown LE, et al., 2016, Drought rewires the cores of food webs, Nature Climate Change, ISSN:1758-678X

More Publications