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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science
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Dr Patrick Osborne BSc DPhil

Reader in Applied Ecology, Director of Programmes for Environmental Science

Dr Patrick Osborne's photo

Dr Patrick Osborne is Reader in Applied Ecology, Director of Programmes for Environmental Science within Geography and Environmental Science at the University of Southampton.

Patrick Osborne works at the interface of ecology, conservation, geography and statistics, and has a special interest in tools and techniques for robust assessment of biodiversity and ecosystems.

He gained a first class honours degree in Biology from the University of Exeter and then a DPhil in Zoology from the University of Oxford, both focussed on ecology. After a spell teaching theoretical ecology at the University of Swansea, he left academia to work with the British Council, the RSPB, the National Avian Research Center in Abu Dhabi and as a private consultant. His work has taken him to over 50 countries with extended stays in Lesotho, Mexico and Abu Dhabi.

He re-joined academia in 1996 as a Lecturer and then Senior lecturer in Environmental Sciences at the University of Stirling. He moved to Southampton in 2005 and was promoted to Reader in Applied Ecology in 2011.

Much of Patrick’s recent research has focused on understanding the factors that control where species occur and on modelling the impacts of environmental change. This combines his skills in field biology, satellite remote sensing, geographic information systems and spatial analysis. He has written over 50 peer-reviewed articles and numerous other publications as well as appearing on radio and television, including Channel 4’s chat show Richard & Judy.

In addition to being an active researcher, Patrick is Director of Programme for Environmental Sciences with overall responsibility for the direction and delivery of undergraduate and postgraduate educational taught programmes.

Patrick Osborne is interested in the fundamental ecological questions of distribution and abundance: what governs where species occur and what limits how many individuals live there? To make sense of this, it is also necessary to consider what influences our capacity as observers to answer these questions and to understand uncertainty and bias. We need tools to observe species, methods to count them and analytical techniques to process the data collected. If we wish to do this against a backdrop of environmental change, we also need ways to capture information about land cover, land use and climate over large spatial extents and that usually means using satellites. Patrick’s work therefore spans the traditional boundaries of ecology, geography and statistics, always with an applied focus. Some of his recent and current projects are described in the pages linked below.

Research Projects

Bigger, better, more connected – the benefits of large-scale conservation in Britain
Who benefits from the Turkish bulb trade?
How variable are the habitat needs of Bluethroats across Europe?
Environmental impacts on breeding performance in space and time
Ecosystem assessments at multiple scales using satellite imagery
Making better use of poor data to monitor rare species


The Lawton Review (2010) called for Britain’s wildlife sites to be bigger, better and more connected
Saving Britain’s wildlife sites
Two local workers wearing specially-made aprons and rucksacks prepare to harvest snowdrops in Turkey (Photo: Melike Kus)
Who benefits from Turkish bulbs?
How variable are the habitat needs of Bluethroats across Europe? Bluethroat captured and ringed in northern Spain
Bluethroats habitat across Europe
Studies on great bustard ecology by a team based at the Spanish National Museum of Natural Sciences (CSIC) and advanced data analysis are uncovering new insights into breeding success
Surveying great bustards in Spain
Airborne imagery before correcting for atmospheric effects and cross-track shading
Assessments using satellite imagery
Modern approaches to data analysis are allowing better population estimates to be made from information gathered with uneven survey effort
Using uneven survey data

Research group

Centre for Environmental Sciences

Research project(s)

Conservation farming

Distribution and activity patterns of brown trout in a chalk river

Ecological and Behavioural Aspects of Flora and Fauna in Relation to the Conservation Grade Approach in Agriculture

Conservation and adaptation in the landscape: A review of landscape scale approaches in Britain - Dormant

This project created a (spatial) database of all ‘landscape-scale' conservation projects in Britain, and then used existing dataset to evaluate the extent to which these meet their biodiversity objectives.

Investigating the combined effects of environmental pollutants

Generating a light-, noise- and electromagnetic radiation-scape of the Southampton area in relation to areas used by bats and their prey will enable us to visualise the complex relationships between ecologically important species and pollutants, whilst simultaneously bridging the gaps in our knowledge of what constitutes as disturbance to these cryptic species. Consequently, this study will catalyse the improvement of mitigation strategies to be employed during urban development projects.

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Code Title Role
ENVS6019  Contemporary Global Env Issues Coordinator
Dr Patrick Osborne
Building 44 University of Southampton University Road Southampton SO17 1BJ

Room Number: 44/2054

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