Dr Paul Lunt

Dr Paul Lunt

Associate Professor in Environmental Science

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences (Faculty of Science and Engineering)


Internal Roles
Head of Environmental Science (2012-present)

Award Leader MSc Environmental Consultancy (2008-2012)

External Roles
External Examiner, Bath Spa University, Masters in Ecological Impact Assessment (2007-2010)
External Examiner, The University of Greenwich, Masters in Environmental Conservation 2008-2011
Steering Committee Member, Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (IEEM) Skills Gap Project
IEEM Professional Development Programme Tutor (2006-2010)
Principal Investigator, Earthwatch (1998-2004)
Field Studies Council Plant Identification Tutor (2006-2010)
Environmental consultant specializing in Ecological Impact Assessment for the development sector


BSc (Hons) Environmental Biology 1991

PhD. Thesis 1997: Effect of Selected ectomycorrhizal species on the growth of Quercus on reinstated open cast coal mining sites. University of Wales, Aberystwyth

Senior Ecology Lecturer, Staffordshire University (1995-2004)
MSc Award Leader Habitat Creation and Management
Manager of Habitat Restoration Research Group
Principal Investigator with Earthwatch
University Admissions Tutor
University Nature Reserve Manager

Principal Consulatant Ecologist, Penny Anderson Associates (2004 -2006)
Providing consultation to government, developers and utility companies on habitat and species management and environmental auditing, including the writing of English Nature research reports, landscape restoration management plans and ecological impact assessments for major transport and residential developments.

Professional membership

Chartered Environmentalist CEnv., 2005-2015
Member of the Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (IEEM), 2004-2015
Member of the British Ecological Society (BES), 1995-2004
Member of the British Mycological Society (BMS), 1991-2004

Roles on external bodies


Teaching interests

Taught Modules

Undergraduate Environmental Science
EOE1204/5 Environmental Techniques
EOE2203 Field and Professional Skills Development
EOE 2207 Natural Ecosystems
EOE3221 Interdisciplinary Approaches to Environmental Sciences
EOE3217 Climate Change: Impacts and Responses
EOE2212 River Catchment Assessment and Management
EOE3218 Work-Based Learning Enterprise Project 

Postgraduate Environmental Consultancy
ENV 5111 Professional Practice for Environmental Consultants
ENV5112 Ecological Survey Evaluation and Mitigation
ENV5208 Environmental Impact Assessment
ENV5209 Work Placement
SCI5301 Masters Research Project

Following several years of project managing ecological consultants, I have returned to Higher Education to deliver vocational training in standardised techniques of ecological survey, appraisal and impact assessment, as required by graduate's and postgraduates seeking work in the rapidly expanding UK environmental sector. 

Staff serving as external examiners

External Examiner, Bath Spa University Masters in Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA)

External Examiner, The University of Greenwich, Masters in Environmental Conservation

Research interests

Recent BBC report on hedgerow restoration research project http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/10421339.stm

Brief description of research interests (with keywords in bold)

Environmental management associated with species and habitat restoration. Key habitats of interest are semi-natural woodland, grassland and upland communities of nature conservation interest.

Investigation of the ecological impacts associated with land-use change and development; particular in relation to assessing techniques and procedures to reduce ecological impacts.

Woodland macromycete fungal communities and plant fungal interactions.

Current Research Projects

1.     IUCN Technical Review. Project Lead. Topic 4: Impacts of Peatland Restoration (rewetting, revegetation and vegetation management). http://www.iucn-uk-peatlandprogramme.org/commission/restoration 

2.     IUCN Technical Review. Expert Panel Member. Topic 3: Peatland Biodiversity (Importance of peatlands for biodiversity, progress on biodiversity targets, condition of protected areas, priority species and strategies for conservation). http://www.iucn-uk-peatlandprogramme.org/commission/biodiversity

3.     Dartmoor Mires Restoration Project. Results of Vegetation Monitoring 2008-2014 http://www.dartmoor.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/583895/Dartmoor-Mires-Project-Vegetation-Monitoring-Analysis-2015.pdf

Recently there has been an international focus of attention on the destruction of the worlds remaining areas of peatland. This focus arises from the potential of peatlands to act as carbon stores for CO2 released during the burning of fossil fuels. This carbon storage facility results in the potential of peatlands to be included in carbon-offsetting schemes, thereby attracting scientific and political interest. However there are uncertainties regarding the scientific evidence for the effectiveness of UK peatlands to function as carbon stores.

Dartmoor National Park, with large deposits of peat is at the southern most climatic extend of blanket bog formation in Europe. This makes Dartmoor the perfect field site for investigating the requirements for blanket bog peat formation and predicting the impacts of future climate change scenarios on peat formation. The Dartmoor Peatlands Research Team was set-up at the end of 2009 in collaboration with the National Trust and Dartmoor National Park and has ongoing undergraduate and postgraduate research projects.

The principle aim of the research team is to determine if the accumulation of plant biomass exceeds that of decomposition on the remaining blanket bog areas on southern Dartmoor? There is much uncertainty about whether carbon sequestration is still occurring and under what conditions these southern most peatlands can act as a sink for carbon. The team's research is focused on identifying the environmental parameters which occur when rates of peat accumulation exceed that of decomposition on blanket bog. 

A model of the environmental parameters which occur during the accumulation of blanket bog peat will be produced by measuring physical, chemical and biological variables in areas of active peat accumulation. This model will then be used to arrive at indicators which can be used in the field to identify and map areas of active carbon sequestration. 

4.     An investigation of fungal endemism and priorities for conservation of macromycete fungal in primary tropical rainforests of Malaysia  

Malaysia, is one of the world’s 12 most biological diverse countries and South East  Asia covers four of the 25 biodiversity hotspots in the world.   The fungi in SE Asia have received limited attention (Watling & Sims, 2004). Only 700 species of fungi have been identified for Peninsula and East Malaysia (Lee & Watling 2007), which is estimated to have the greatest systematic fungal diversity in the world. Natural forests in this region are disappearing at a rate of 1.4 %/yr, which is higher than the rate in other tropical areas. This wealth of fungal biodiversity is still awaiting systematic recording, description and classification.

Plymouth University have been working with the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) since 2006 to help collect and document selected groups of fungi. Collections to date using morphological description, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and dried specimens, number over 70 species and photographic records of over 300 species. The project lead has over fifteen years experience of work on temperate and tropical fungi and the supervisory team combine some of the world’s leading British mycologist’s with an experienced SE Asia team (Steve Burchett & John Bull).  

The successful student would collaborate with Dr Lee at FRIM on their National Malaysian collection to catalogue and publish our existing records. A series of additional short expeditionary collections would be conducted to selected primary forest areas in Sabah, Borneo and peninsula Malaysia. Comparisons would be made with European fungi and known fungi in Australia and Papua New Guinea. This work would determine levels of endemism in SE Asia and the significance of the Wallace line in fungal species distribution. Fungal diversity would be measured in selected forest types which would enable conservation priorities to be set for Malaysia. The fungal inventory would also allow determination of those taxonomic groups which are most in need of description. As well as providing the expertise in SE Asia and research facilities (SEM), Plymouth would facilitate British expertise.  The student would become a member of a dwindling group of world renowned British mycologists.

5.  An investigation of the ecological and genetic variation of Tettigonia viridissima (Great Green Bush Cricket) in UK and continental populations

The Great Green Bush Cricket (GGBC) is Britain’s largest insect and a Devon Biodiversity Action Plan Species. We have data which suggest that the British GGBC may be a geographically isolated subspecies or separate species from their continental counterparts. As well as behavioural differences our UK individual’s are significantly larger, with a smaller wing area and virtually flightless, when compared to their continental cousins. The GGBC cricket has a population stronghold here in the South West and appears to be expanding its distribution north and eastwards with climate change.

The aim of this research project is to analyse mitochondrial sequences (COI) from French and UK individuals of the GGBC to determine if there are genetic differences between these populations consistent with species status. Further validation of differences will be supported by ecological (habitat preference) behavioural (sonograms) and anatomical measurements of both the French and British populations, including individuals from several populations in both countries for concrete comparison. Predictive models will then be generated to assess the impacts of predicted changes in climate and agricultural management.

The project builds on work that has been ongoing by Lunt & Dover since 2002, initially funded by Earthwatch, at East Prawle (South Hams, Devon) and since collected by Masters and undergraduates from the Universities of Manchester, Staffordshire and Plymouth (including two first class Plymouth undergraduate projects and winner of the Environmental Science Project Prize 2008). The second supervisor (Mairi Knight) is a molecular ecologist who will assist in the mtDNA sequencing aspect of the project.

6.     Native UK woodland and tree, macromycete fungal diversity and species composition - South West Woodlands (project ongoing) 

Other research

Current research projects

Collaboration with two international Earthwatch teams is ongoing. One here in the South West on changes species and habitats associated with agri-environmental schemes. The second in the Picos de Europa on the social, economic and nature conservation value of traditionally farmed landscapes. These projects will continue to generate publications and research opportunities with new data collected this year by 4 project students from Plymouth. These include ongoing projects on the great green bush cricket which aims to determine if observe behavioural and anatomical differences between continental UK individuals are consistent with genetic differences.

We have also been working on an inventory of the fungi for Peninsular Malaysia for the last three years and are collaboring with the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM). A self funded graduate research student worked at FRIM on our fungal data base over the summer period and there will be a CETL funded visit to FRIM next year. Anticipated outcomes include a joint publication on the fungal diversity of the main range later in 2010. Fungal project in the UK include collaboration with the National Trust and Tamar Valley to produce species inventories of their ancient woodland sites.    

External collaboration through masters research projects is on going with the RSPB monitoring of Europe’s first passerine bird (cirl bunting) reintroduction in Cornwall. Other collaborative masters projects involving species and habitat development mitigation monitoring are in progress with Plymouth City Council, Teignmouth District Council and Laing O’ Rourke.

Biodiversity Enhancement Areas (BEA). Comparison of regional approaches taken to the identification of areas for landscape enhancement in England


Research degrees awarded to supervised students

2006: Atkinson, D.A. Effects of management on the above ground competition and mycorrizal infection associated with orchids in mesotrophic grassland. Ph.D. Thesis. Faculty of Health and Science, Staffordshire University.

2005:Smith, P.J.The effect of cutting on the Coleopteran fauna of grass tussocks. Ph.D. Thesis. Faculty of Health and Science, Staffordshire University.

2000: Moon, A. The restoration of Blakemere Moss, Delamere Forest, Cheshire. MPhil Thesis. School of Sciences, Staffordshire University.

Key publications are highlighted

Lunt PH, Fyfe RM & Tappin AD 2019 'Role of recent climate change on carbon sequestration in peatland systems' Science of the Total Environment 667, 348-358 Author Site , DOI PEARL
Cooper EM, Lunt PH, Ellis JS & Knight ME 2013 'Biogeographical patterns of variation in European populations of the Great Green Bush-cricket (Tettigonia viridissima; Orthoptera Tettigoniidae)' Insect Conservation 17, (3) 431-440 , DOI
Dover JW, Rescia A, Fungarino S, Fairburn J, Carey P, Lunt P, Arnot C, Dennis RLH & Dover CJ 2011 'Land-use, environment, and their impact on butterfly populations in a mountainous pastoral landscape: species richness and family-level abundance' JOURNAL OF INSECT CONSERVATION 15, (4) 523-538 Author Site , DOI
Dover JW, Rescia A, Fungarino S, Fairburn J, Carey P, Lunt P, Arnot C, Dennis RLH & Dover CJ 2011 'Land-use, environment, and their impact on butterfly populations in a mountainous pastoral landscape: individual species distribution and abundance' JOURNAL OF INSECT CONSERVATION 15, (1-2) 207-220 Author Site , DOI
Maskall JE, Stokes A, Collins T, Lea J, Lunt P & Davies S 2011 'Enabling Remote Access to Fieldwork: Gaining Insight into the Pedagogic Effectiveness of ‘Direct’ and ‘Remote’ Field Activities' Journal of Geography in Higher Education , DOI
Dover JW, Rescia A, Fungarino S, Fairburn J, Carey P, Lunt P, Dennis RLH & Dover CJ 2010 'Can hay harvesting detrimentally affect adult butterfly abundance?' JOURNAL OF INSECT CONSERVATION 14, (4) 413-418 Author Site , DOI
Smith PH, Dover JW, Lunt PH & Mitchell P 2006 'An improved standardized method for sampling and processing the coleopterous fauna of grass tussocks' Entomologist’s Gazette 57, 153-164
Lunt PH & Hedger JN 2003 'Effects of organic enrichment of mine spoil on growth and nutrient uptake in oak seedlings inoculated with selected ectomycorrhizal fungi' Restoration Ecology 11, (2) 125-130
Lunt PH & Hedger JN 1996 'A survey of mycorrhizal infection of trees in the terra firme rainforest, Cuyabeno, Ecuador' Mycologist 10, (4) 161-165 , DOI
Conference Papers
Lunt P and Dover J. 2007 'Butterflies and orchid distribution in the Deva Valley, Picos de Europa, Spain.' High Value Grasslands: providing biodiversity, a clean environment and premium products 209-212
Bain, C.G., Bonn, A., Stoneman, R., Chapman, S., Coupar, A., Evans, M., Gearey, B., Howat, M., Joosten, H., Keenleyside, C., Labadz, J., Lindsay, R., Littlewood, N., Lunt, P., Miller, C.J., Moxey, A., Orr, H., Reed, M., Smith, P., Swales, V., Thompson, D.B.A., Thompson, P.S., Van de Noort, R., Wilson, J.D., et. al 2011 IUCN UK Commission of Inquiry on Peatlands. Commission of Inquiry on Peatlands International Union for the Conservation of Nature UK Published by the IUCN UK Peatland Programm Publisher Site
Littlewood, N., Anderson, P., Artz, R., Bragg, O., Lunt, P., et. al 2010 Peatland Biodiversity. Report to IUCN UK Peatland Programme.
Lunt, P., Allott, T., Anderson, P., Buckler, M., Coupar, A., Jones, P., Labadz, J., et. al 2010 Peatland Restoration. Report to IUCN UK Peatland Programme. Report to IUCN UK Peatland Programme.
Lunt 2006 Consultation Report and Recommendations - Biodiversity Enhancement Areas for the West Midlands Region. English Nature
Lunt PH 2006 A review of the effects of recreation and sport on nature conservation. English Nature

Other academic activities

Provider of Professional Development Training:

Ecological Impact Assessment
Common Standards Monitoring for Habitats of Nature Conservation
Habitat Restoration and Management
Plant species Identification
Fungal species Identification