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Hefin Jones

Dr Hefin Jones

Senior Lecturer, Director of Undergraduate Education

School of Biosciences

+44 29208 75357
Sir Martin Evans Building, Room School of Biosciences, The Sir Martin Evans Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX
Welsh speaking
Media commentator


Research Overview

My research interests are broad, and encompass population and community ecology, climate change and biodiversity. They centre on three main areas: soil biodiversity, concentrating on the interactions between below-ground and above-ground herbivory, the relationship between soil biota diversity and ecosystem processes, and, more recently, interactions between soil organisms; host-parasitoid and insect-plant-natural enemy interactions, mainly concentrating on the interacting insects’ behaviour and relating this to their population and community dynamics; and thirdly, the consequences of climate change on these interspecific interactions. While most of my research has concentrated on terrestrial ecosystems I have recently broadened my interest to include freshwater ecosystems also.



















Book sections


  • Baars, C. et al. 2013. New concepts in the management of museum collections. Presented at: Joint meeting of Paläontologische Gesellschaft and Palaeontological Society of China,, Gottingen, Germany, 20 -29 September 2013. Gottingen, Germany: Joint meeting of Paläontologische Gesellschaft and Palaeontological Society of China


My research interests are broad, and encompass population and community ecology, climate change and biodiversity. They centre on three main areas: soil biodiversity, concentrating on the interactions between below-ground and above-ground herbivory and the relationship between soil biota diversity and ecosystem processes; trophic interactions, in both terrestrial and aquatic environments, and, more recently, specifically interactions between fungi and soil invertebrates; and thirdly, the impact of climate change on these interspecific interactions.

Trybliographa rapae (cynipid parasitoid) attacking cabbage root fly larva

Trybliographa rapae (cynipid parasitoid) attacking cabbage root fly larva.

Much of my earlier research work attempted to bridge field, laboratory and theoretical ecology.  For example, working with M P Hassell (Imperial College) and S W Pacala (Princeton University) we developed a simple mathematical model, parameterised from field data, exploring the population dynamics of a major horticultural pest insect, the cabbage root fly, Delia radicum. In this study of D. radicum and its two most common parasitoids we showed that instead of the relatively straightforward dynamics exhibited by the paired species interactions, the three species system presented far more complex and widel-ranging set of properties.

Harvesting at Glen Shee

Harvesting at Glen Shee, Summer 2000.

At Silwood Park I also initiated a long-term study of the tri-trophic interaction between thistles, their tephritid gallmakers and their parasitoids. This developed, in collaboration with S E Hartley (University of York, UK) and A D Vanbergen (NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology – Edinburgh) investigating the relative roles of plant resource (bottom-up) and natural enemy (top-down) influences in determining herbivore abundance. I was also involved in a study exploring the relative importance of grazing pressure and resource availability in grass-heather competition in north-east Scotland, and the effects of land-use change, in particular, grazing, on tri-trophic interactions.

Measuring photosynthesis in the Ecotron

Measuring photosynthesis in the Ecotron.

As Ecotron Project Leader, working with J H Lawton (Centre for Population Biology, Silwood Park), I initiated projects on climate change and soil biodiversity. These included a 3-year project investigating the effects of global environmental change on terrestrial populations and communities; the role of earthworm species and functional group diversity in terrestrial communities and, prior to leaving Imperial College for Cardiff University, the interactions between soil fauna, soil microbial assemblages and soil ecosystem processes.  To understand the role of different faunal groups, and their interactions, in soil carbon and nitrogen fluxes we had to determine how manipulating soil faunal diversity affected carbon dynamics, in terms of carbon pathways, rates of movement and mass balance. Using 13C label, and in collaboration with M A Bradford (Yale University) we set-about determining (i) how carbon-assimilation, and subsequent retention (and hence turnover) of the assimilated carbon, is affected by a faunal diversity gradient, and (ii) how carbon movement through different pools and pathways is affected by decreasing faunal diversity.

Microcosm - Phallus impudicus growing in laboratory microcosm

Microcosm - Phallus impudicus growing in laboratory microcosm

Since moving to Cardiff University, I am again studying, in collaboration with SJ Ormerod and RJ Thomas (Cardiff University), and SN Johnson (Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, University of West Sidney, Australia), trophic interactions within a climate change context.  Using laboratory microcosms I have also developed numerous collaborations with L Boddy (Cardiff University), P Baldrian (Institute of Microbiology, Prague, Czech Republic) and E Kandeler (University of Hohenheim, Germany) investigating how mycelial morphology and physiological/biochemical functioning of saprotrophic soil basidiomycetes can alter dramatically in the presence of soil invertebrates.

Grants (2000 – present)

Support for this research has been provided by:

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
UK Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Defra)
The British Council
The Royal Society
The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation
European Science Foundation (ESF)
Landfill Communities Fund (LCF)

Research Team

Don A’Bear (2010 – 2014) – Impacts of climate change on decomposer fungus–invertebrate interactions and ecosystem processes (Natural Environment Research Council - NERC)

Hannah Burton (2012 – 2015) – Genetic diversity, resistance and resilience to climate change (Cardiff University – President Scholarship)

Tom Crowther (2008 – 2012) – Effects of grazing soil fauna on the functioning and community composition of saprotrophic basidiomycete fungi (NERC)

Matt Dray (2010 – 2013) – The effects of elevated atmospheric CO2 on leaf chemistry and  decomposition (Cardiff University – President Scholarship)

Luke Evans (2012 -2015) – Human-crocodile conflict: Increasing understanding through satellite tracking, education, and resource management (Danau Girang Field Centre)

Will Hentley (2010 – 2014) – Trophic cascades in a changing climate – effects of elevated CO2 on the breakdown of plant defences (NERC)

Becky Marsh (2010 – 2013) – Climate change and dynamic sediment controls on stream organisms: a case study in the Severn Catchment (Cardiff University – President Scholarship)

Scott McKenzie (2010 – 2014) Effects of elevated CO2 in the plant-mediated interaction between above- and belowground herbivores (NERC)

Adam Seward (2007 – 2012) Impacts of climate changes on a long-distance migratory bird, the northern wheatear (NERC)

Paul Sinnadurai (2006 – 2014) Ecology of beetles (Carabidae) on exposed sediments in a modified riverine environment (Brecon Beacons National Park Authority)

James Vafidis (2011 – 2014) The effect of climate change on wetland ecosystems (Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarship)

Affiliated Researcher

James Ryalls (HIE, University of West Sydney) – Climate change and aboveground-belowground interactions in lucerne – impacts of root herbivory on aboveground herbivores and their symbionts


Tephritid fly (Urophora cardui) on thistle

Tephritid fly (Urophora cardui) on thistle.

I studied for my first degree in Zoology at King’s College, London between 1979 and 1982, and my PhD at Imperial College, London studying insect host-parasitoid interactions. On leaving Silwood Park in 1985 I joined what was then the National Vegetable Research Station (Wellesbourne) (now part of the School of Life Sciences, Warwick University) as a New Initiative Research Fellow to work on the effects of interspecific competition during host plant selection by pest insects.

I returned to Silwood Park in 1988, first joining the Silwood Centre for Pest Management and then the Biology Department as a post-doctoral researcher working on the role of spatial heterogeneity in the dynamics of insect host-parasitoid interactions on thistles. In 1994 I was appointed Research Fellow and Project Leader for the Ecotron controlled environment facility at the NERC Centre for Population Biology (CPB) at Silwood Park. I joined Cardiff University in 2000.

Cardiff University Professional Activities:

Ecology Degree Scheme Coordinator

Module Leader: Ecology (Year 1); Ecosystems Processes (Year 2); Global Change Biology (Year 3); Key Skills in Research Practice (MRes)

Deputy Director Cardiff University MRes Biosciences

School of Biosciences Welsh Language Liaison Officer

Member of: Equality and Diversity Sub-Committee; Biological Sciences and MRes Schemes’ Boards; Learning and Teaching Committee; Cardiff University Welsh Language Medium Teaching Sub-Committee

External Professional Activities

Editor: Global Change Biology (2004 – present)

Editor: Agricultural and Forest Entomology (2005 – present)

Editorial Board: Functional Ecology ( 1997 – present ) and Bulletin of Entomological Research (2006 – present)

Series Editor: Ecological Reviews (2008 – present)

Dean and Staff Director Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol (2011 – present)

Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) UK Representative on European Science Foundation Life and Earth Science Standing Committee (2004 – 2010)

Member of NERC Peer Review College (2005 – 2009)