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Profile: Dr Clare Lawson

Dr Clare Lawson

The Open University, School of Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences

Professional biography

Dr Clare Lawson is a Lecturer in Environmental Sciences. 

Clare's background is in plant ecology and she's fascinated by wildflower meadows, their biodiversity and relationship with traditional farm management. Much of her research work has focussed on species-rich grasslands and how they respond to a changing environment. Clare's current work explores the relationship between floodplain meadow plant communities, water-regime and soil carbon, but also looks at the potential to restore these habitats within floodplains. 

Clare has also investigated the impacts of management practices on farmland biodiversity and the importance of plant-soil interactions in restoring species-rich grasslands. She has co-authored a book on ‘The Agri-Environment’ which examined the application of ecology and conservation biology to agricultural ecosystems.

The rare Snakeshead fritillary exists in only a few floodplain meadows. Over the last 20 years, I have calculated the fritillaries at North Meadow, Cricklade, where 80% of the UK population occurs, to see how these few remaining strongholds are faring. The tallying of fritillary has now grown into a ‘Citizen Science’ project involving a group of about 40 volunteers. Over a few days of the flowering season at the end of April, these volunteers come and tally the fritillaries, with us.

Clare teaches on a number of undergraduate courses, from first to third year, that form part of the Environmental Science or Natural Sciences degree. These include ‘The Biology of Survival’, ‘Terrestrial Ecosystems’ and Environmental Science’ and its associated field school. The field schools, based at Malham Tarn and Exmoor are great opportunities to get out and about with students to experience what they have been learning online, and include taking field observations, collecting data and carrying out investigations.

Academic advisor for: Springwatch 2020

Dr Clare Lawson's activities

Browse 1 OpenLearn item Dr Clare Lawson has worked on