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Dr. Barbara Smith

Senior Research Fellow in Agricultural Ecology and Public Science

My Research Vision

Working from a natural science perspective I am inspired by the potential for interdisciplinary collaboration to solve problems that are principally seen as environmental but have socio-economic dimensions. My background in farmland ecology was driven by a fascination with understanding ‘how the system works’ and the ecological principles that underlie functioning. Increasingly I am interested in investigating the socio-economic drivers of human behaviour and evaluating the subsequent ecological impacts, including the impact of agronomic changes on ecosystems at a range of scales. My work uses participatory research methods where practicable in order to empower stakeholders and embed change. I hope that my work will contribute to the development of sustainable, equitable food production systems. 


Alongside her post at Coventry University CAWR, Dr Barbara Smith is Associate Director of the Centre for Pollination Studies at Calcutta University (2012 –) and is Chair of the Agricultural Ecology Special Interest Group of the British Ecological Society (2011 -).  She previously worked as a Senior Scientist in the Farmland Ecology Unit at the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (2002 – 2015) developing and evaluating agri-environment scheme options. Barbara has also worked as consultant ecologist on habitat restoration projects, specialising in aggregate sites, carrying out primary botanical research and working in partnership with industry, local communities, local authorities and NGOs.

Areas of research include: management of ecosystem service provision with a focus on pollination; agricultural intensification and its impact on wild plants and insects; the role of semi-natural habitat in mitigating intensive agriculture; intra-specific variation in wild legumes; restoration ecology in calcareous grassland systems; heathland management for biodiversity; novel techniques for collating and validating local and traditional knowledge. Barbara has collaborated with industry and academic partners in the UK and academic partners across Europe.  Much of her work has been carried out on farms and through this she has developed a supportive network of stakeholders.  Recent work in India has resulted in strong partnerships with farmers, academic colleagues and policy makers.

Selected Outputs

  • Holland, J.M., Smith, B.M., Storkey, J., Lutman, P.J.W., and Aebischer, N.J. (2015) ‘Managing habitats on English farmland for insect pollinator conservation’. Biological Conservation 182, 215-222. Available from
  • Chakrabarti, P., Rana, S., Sarkar, S., Smith, B., and Basu, P. (2014) ‘Pesticide-induced oxidative stress in laboratory and field populations of native honey bees along intensive agricultural landscapes in two Eastern Indian states’. Apidologie 46, 107-112. Available from
  •  Holland, J.M., and Smith, B.M. (2014) ‘Natural Enemies’. In: Encyclopaedia of Pests and Natural Enemies in Field Crops. Ed. by Boys, E. Kenilworth: Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board. Home Grown Cereals Authority Publications, 170-198. Available from
  • Smith, B., Goldring, A., Holland, J., Iannetta, P., Norton, L., Smith, J., Smith, M., and Watson, C. (Eds.) (2013) Aspects 121 - Rethinking Agricultural Systems in the UK.  ‘Rethinking Agricultural Systems in the UK’. Held 18-19 December 2013 at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford. Warwick: The Association of Applied Biologists 
  • Storkey, J., Brooks, D., Haughton, A., Hawes, C., Smith, B., and Holland, J. (2013) ‘Using functional traits to quantify the value of plant communities to invertebrate ecosystem service providers in arable landscapes’. Journal of Ecology 101 (1), 38-46. Available from 
  • Holland, J., Oaten H., Moreby, S., Birkett, T., Simper, J., Southway, S., and Smith, B. (2012) ‘Agri-environment scheme enhancing ecosystem services: a demonstration of improved biological control in cereal crops’. Agriculture Ecosystems and Environment 155, 147-152. Available from http://dx.doi/org/10.1016/j.agee.2012.04.014
  • Iannetta, P., Hubbard, S., Karley. A., Smith, B., Squire, G., and Watson, C. (2011) Aspects 109: Agricultural Ecology Research: its role in delivering sustainable farm systems. ‘Agricultural Ecology Research: its role in delivering sustainable farm systems’. Held 15-16 June 2011 in Dundee, Scotland. Warwick: The Association of Applied Biologists 
  • Baker, D., Stillman, R., Smith, B., Bullock, H., and Norris, K. (2010) ‘Vigilance and the functional response of granivorous birds’.  Functional Ecology 24 (6), 1281-1290. Available from
  • Vander Mijnsbrugge, K., Bischoff, A., and Smith, B.  (2010) ‘A question of origin: where and how to collect seed for ecological restoration’. Basic and Applied Ecology 11 (4), 300 -311. Available from
  • Smith, B.M., Holland, J., Jones, N., Morbey, S., Morris, T., and Southway, S. (2009) ‘Enhancing invertebrate food resources for skylarks in cereal ecosystems: how useful are in-crop agri-environment scheme management options?’ Journal of Applied Ecology 46 (3), 692-702. Http://
  • Smith, B.M., Winder, L. Diaz, A., and Daniels, R. (2005) ‘The effect of provenance on the establishment and performance of Lotus corniculatus L. in a re-creation environment’. Biological Conservation 125 (1) 37-46. Available from

Selected Projects

  • Enhancing the Relationship Between People and Pollinators in Eastern India
    The project established the Centre for Pollination Studies at University of Calcutta, Kolkata, India. Using both conventional and participatory research methods the project established the first long-term pollinator monitoring in Indian agro-ecosystems
  • Quantification of Ecological Services for Sustainable Agriculture (QuESSA)
    The QUESSA project aims to quantify the key semi-natural habitats (SNH) providing these essential ecological services (ES) across economically important cropping systems, farming intensities and four European agro-climatic zones.
  • A comparison of heathland management techniques on biodiversity in the New Forest
    In collaboration with the Natural history Museum, the project surveyed 109 sites across the New Forest to evaluate the impact of management on above and below ground biodiversity.  The work was carried out by scientists in partnership with 44 volunteers from the general public.
  • Independent systematic review of impact of on-farm mitigation measures for delivering an improved water environment
    Collating knowledge in a systematic map to synthesise research on on-farm mitigation measures for delivering an improved water environment.
  • Arable weeds and their associated invertebrates: a meta-analysis
    A meta-analysis of 20 years of data from the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust
  • Capacity Building in Biodiversity Monitoring and Conservation in Himachal Pradesh
    Developing networks of researchers to establish a monitoring programme for birds and Lepidoptera
  • Farm4Bio
    Research project investigating the impact of scale and distribution of wildlife habitat on farms
  • Re-bugging the system: promoting adoption of alternative pest management strategies in field crop systems
    An investigation of the value of wildlife habitats on farms, particularly margins, dor natural pest control in wheat together with an evaluation of semio-chemicals in push-pull systems to protect wheat crops from pests.
  • Sustainable Arable Farming for an Improved Environment (SAFFIE)
    Investigation into ways to improve biodiversity on farm by manipulating crop architecture and managing field margins.
Research breakout image

Senior Research Fellow in Agricultural Ecology and Public Science

Building: Ryton Gardens