Imperial College London

Professor Guy Woodward - Deputy Head of Department

Faculty of Natural SciencesDepartment of Life Sciences (Silwood Park)

Professor of Ecology







MunroSilwood Park





See also links to the NERC Emerging Risks of Chemicals in the Environment (ERCITE) Programme website. and the Freshwater Biological Association, where I sit on the Board of Directors and am also an Honorary Member.  My current publications can also be found on my Google Scholar pages.

Research Interests

My current research interests are focused on quantifying the impacts of stressors (chemical pollution, climate change, acidification, species invasions and habitat alteration) on the structure and functioning of aquatic food webs and ecosystems. I am currently collaborating with a range of expert from different disciplines to unravel 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" and allometric scaling laws can be applied to complex ecological systems. For instance, 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, and through to entire ecosystems. Allometric scaling is 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.  Many stressors can reshape these fundamental relationships and how metabolism and body size given higher level processes: we have found that warming alters the base of the food web, with huge implications for the apex presdators at the top of the food chain, for example.

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, and increasingly we see in aquatic food webs body size is far more important than species identity - in terms of both structure and functioning of the systems as a whole. 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 and chemical pollution - and the potential interactive or synergistic effects that can emerge when multiple stressors are operating (as is typically the case in the real world). 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 recent research has focused on studying geothermally-heated streams in Iceland and experimentally warmed large arrays of field mesoscosms, to study the impacts of global warming on natural systems, and also how this modulates the effects of chemical pollution.  

Research Focus - Dr. Guy Woodward

Research Group and Grant Awards

Since 2005 I have been awarded >£13M of external grant funding as a Principal or Co-Investigator. The NERC ERCITE Project I am leading (£2.5M) was awarded in 2017 and is currently ongoing, building on the advances we made in various preceding grants focused on warming and chemical pollution, including a £3.7M NERC Large Grant I led from 2015-2020.  In 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 and 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 and s range of philanthropic and industrial support.

Research Collaborations

I have a broad range of active and ongoing collaborations with many world experts in population, community and ecosystem ecology, in addition to my colleagues here at Imperial, including Dr Jose Montoya (CNRS, France), Prof. Mark Trimmer (Queen Mary University of London), Dr Dan Reuman (Kansas State, USA), Prof. Owen Petchey (University of Zurich), Prof. Simon Jennings (CEFAS / University of East Anglia), Prof. Bo Ebenman (Linkoping University, Sweden), Prof Alex Dumbrell (University of Essex) Prof Nikolai Friberg (NIVA, Norway). 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 and chemical stressors 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. Prof 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. Dr Chris Hullatt (2013-2015)  NERC funded [PI - Dr. M. Trimmer, Dr M. Ledger; Co-I- Dr G. Woodward]
  9. Dr Michelle Jackson (2015-202)  NERC Funded [PI - Prof G Woodward]
  10. Dr Danni Harris (2020-date) NERC Funded [PI - Prof 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. Prof  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; now Professor of Ecology att Exeter University)
  4. Dr Daniel Perkins (2006 - NERC funded) "Climate change impacts on biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relations" (Senioor Lecturer at University of Surrey)
  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) GWCT Senior Scientist
  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. Dr Doris Pichler (2008; with Dr Nikolai Friberg - NERC funded) "Climate change in Icelandic geothermal streams"  Syngenta
  10. Dr Rebecca Stewart (2008; with Dr Genoveva Esteban & Prof. Bland Finlay - NERC funded) - "Protist assemblages under simulated global warming scenarios"
  11. Dr Murray Thompson (2009; with Dr Steve Brooks & Dr Carl Sayer - John Lewis Partnership funded) - "The decline of riverflies in chalk rivers".  Fisheries Scientist - CEFAS.
  12. Dr Gareth Jenkins (2010 - NERC funded)  "Recovery from acidification and trout invasion of a complex stream food web"  Blackwell Scientific Publishing
  13. Dr Aurora Samson (2011, with Prof. A. Hildrew & Jon Grey - NERC funded) "Methane as a carbon source in stream food webs"
  14. Dr Matteo Dossena (2011, with Dr M. Trimmer - AXA Insurance funded) "Predicting climate change impacts in complex ecosystems: a mesocosm approach" 
  15. Dr Georgina Adams (2011, with Dr D. Reuman & Prof. S. Jennings) "Developing individual-based approaches to assess size-structure in commercial fisheries"
  16. Dr Victoria Warren (2011, with Dr M. Trimmer - NERC funded) "Environmental warming impacts on biogeochemical cycles in freshwater mesocosms"
  17. Dr 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”  Defra Senior Data Scientist
  18. Dr Xueke Lu (2012, with Dr A. Ma, QMUL) “Applying Information Theory to Ecological Networks"  JP Morgan investment bank
  19. Dr Lei Zhao (2012)  Associate Student "Developing Network Approaches to Bioassessment in Chinese Freshwaters"
  20. Dr Joe Huddart (2013).  "Restoration of Chalk Rivers: Challenging Ecological Theory with Real-World Data
  21. Dr Bruno Gallo (2015).  "Climate Change Impacts on Freshwater Food Webs"

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Lu X, Gray C, Brown LE, et al., 2016, Drought rewires the cores of food webs, Nature Climate Change, Vol:6, ISSN:1758-678X, Pages:875-878

More Publications