Stuart Bence

Stuart Bence

PhD student

Ecology and Forestry Research
Forestry, Ecology and Biological controls

Stuart.bence.ic@uhi.ac.uk
@StuartBence91

+44 (0)1463 273553

Inverness College UHI
Research Hub
1 Inverness Campus
Inverness
IV2 5NA

My background is in ecology and conservation, combining experience from a number of research projects as well as from working and volunteering on a number of projects. I have a BSc (hons) in Conservation, Biology and Management from the University of Stirling, as well as a Master's in Ecology and Sustainability from the University of Aberdeen . I have always had an interest in ecology and conservation and started volunteering from a young age. I continued this throughout university and was part of a team at the University of Stirling that encouraged student volunteering with a range of groups. The team also assisted different research groups with work on pollinators and radio tracking bats. Whilst at Stirling University I developed a keen interest in Lepidoptera, at first as pollinators and then into all aspects of their ecology and interactions with the wider ecosystem.

On leaving Stirling I worked on a number of projects for the Forth Naturalist and Historian with assistance from Butterfly Conservation and Scottish Wildlife Trust under a “what’s changed” grant from Scottish Natural Heritage, to look at changes in plant and butterfly populations in the last 50 years. One of these projects developed an interest I had in peatlands and I became a regular volunteer with Butterfly Conservations bog squad and recently the British Dragonfly Society project to restore peatlands in Glen Affric for a number of  rare dragonfly species found there. I am still an active volunteer especially with Butterfly Conservation sitting on their Highland Branch committee.

I sit on the committee for the UHI Integrated Land Use Conference and help with teaching students at the conference and on environmental science field courses. I enjoy being able to share my interests in the natural world with other people, and encouraging volunteering and citizen science involvement. Especially amongst students to help build experience in the field and show the importance of citizen science. I enjoy all things related to wildlife, especially moth trapping and camera trapping due to the amazing species these methods can detect, species that usually go unnoticed even though they are almost always nearby us.

Research Interests

  • Broad interest in the ecology and conservation of Lepidoptera.
  • Pollination systems and pollinator interactions in plants
  • Conservation and provision of resources for pollinators.
  • Role of citizen science in ecology and conservation research. As well as methods of engaging people and young people in the subject.
  • General interests in entomology and insect interactions in the ecosystem.
  • Landscape factors and their effect on species ecology and movements.
  • Peatland habitats, methods of restoration and the ecology and conservation of the species that live in these habitats.

Current and recent projects

  • Factors controlling the abundance of pine-tree lappet moth (Dendrolimus pini) in north-east Scotland. (PhD thesis)

Past projects

  • The effect of land use on the movements of the Blue tailed damselfly Ischnura elegans and population dynamics of the species. (Master's thesis)
  • Assessing changes in key butterfly populations of the Forth valley in the last 50 years.
  • Documenting the current status of the plant Sticky Catchfly in The Ochills.
  • The effect of neonicotinoid pesticides on the foraging abilities of the bumble bee Bombus terrestris.   (Undergraduate dissertation)

Publications

Bence, S and Blackmore, L, M. (2016) Plant Report, Sticky Catchfly Silene viscaria. Forth Naturalist and Historian. 39. 117- 121.

Bence, S and Blackmore, L, M. (2014) A survey of Large Heath, Purple Hairstreak and Northern Brown Argus Butterfly populations in the Forth Valley. Forth Naturalist and Historian. 37. 139-152.

Contributor to:

Sexton, R. (2014). The Moth Pollinators of the greater Butterfly orchids Platanthera chlorantha in central Scotland. Journal of the Hardy Orchid Society. 11. 14-22.

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