Colin Michael Beale

Colin Michael Beale


Former affiliations

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Northern Wheatears are a common long-distance migrant breeding in northern Europe and wintering in sub-Saharan Africa. We have studied a population living on Fair Isle, Shetland, since 2008 and have demonstrated links between food availability on Fair Isle and both productivity and over-winter survival. The timing of change of food availability appears to be critical: only early spring food availability impacts productivity (though increased nesting attempts) and only post-fledging food availability impacts over-winter survival of juveniles. With global climate change influencing the timing of biological events we now need a more detailed understanding of how climate change alters wheatear food supply, requiring analysis of individual diet and seasonal warming impacts on food availability. The project therefore has two parts: to identify the diets of individual wheatears, focusing on differences between years, seasons (breeding, fueling and overwintering), territory habitat characteristics and individuals; and to identify the effects of warming at different seasons on the abundance and timing of invertebrate populations. The project will involve intensive fieldwork monitoring the wheatear population on Fair Isle, molecular analysis of diet samples, laboratory, mesocosm and field-scale warming experiments.

If you made any changes in Pure these will be visible here soon.

Personal profile

Research interests

I am an ecologist with broad interests in spatial patterns and conservation biology. Research in my group covers a wide range of subjects, but development and application of novel quantitative methods, particularly those involving spatial analyses, are a unifying theme whether working in the field or using derived datasets. Together, members of my lab work on projects both fundamental and applied, in the UK and overseas. In the UK we are working both to understand the fundamental demographic processes that generate range limits and to apply this knowledge to predict impacts from climate change, whilst in Africa we are studying both the fundamental drivers of the savannah biome and undertaking applied research to reduce illegal activities in protected areas.


Current group members are:



  • Dr Rob Critchlow - works on reducing illegal activities in Uganda, and restoring degraded savannahs in Tanzania.
  • Dr Chris Wheatley - Distribution changes in Colombian biodiversity

PhD Students

  • Natasha Peters - Conservation of African Vultures
  • Joris Wiethase - Identifying the mechanistic links between savannah degradation and bird distribution change.
  • Jacob Davies - Spatial demography underlying range change in the Reed Warbler
  • Charles Cunningham - A spatial conservation plan for the UK

MSc Students

  • Duncan Lister - Distribution and abundance changes of mammals in Queen Elizabeth NP, Uganda

  Past Members:

  • James Probert  (registered at Liverpool) - Fire and biodiversity in the Serengeti ecosystem.
  • Alfan Rija - Reducing illegal activities in Tanzania
  • Dr Patricia Ryser-Welch - worked on programme SMART conservation software plug-in
  • Simina Adamescu (MSc) - Phenology of African forests
  • Alex Lobora (PhD) - Elephant corridors in southern Tanzania.
  • Justin Byrne (MSc) - Range limits among bird communities of the Albertine Rift


Research collaborators


Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or