University of St Andrews


Photo of Althea Davies


Following a BSc in Botany (Reading University 1994), I completed an MSc in Environmental Archaeology and Palaeoeconomy (Sheffield University 1996). My PhD research (Stirling University 2000) combined my interests in ecology, long-term environmental and land-use change by looking at the role of human impact and climate change on woodland survival and decline in West Glen Affric (NW Scottish Highlands). I subsequently developed an interdisciplinary project with historians and ecologists at the Centre for Environmental History at Stirling looking at human impacts on upland diversity over the last 400 years, and was then awarded a RELU research fellowship in which I explored the implications of long-term change for UK upland management. This combined stakeholder inputs and long-term ecology to evaluate the complementary roles of experiential and ecological evidence for managing the cultural and conservation value of upland habitats. This led to a series of participatory research projects involving collaborative resource management and cultural ecosystem values at the James Hutton Institute and University of Aberdeen.



Research Interests

My research focuses on the role of palaeoecology in environmental management and understanding the ecological implications of past management and environmental change. I specialise in the use of pollen, charcoal and fungal spores to understand past vegetation and land-use history in upland Britain, particularly during the historic period. I also have an interest in the use of participatory approaches for understanding how cultural values influence natural resource management decisions and finding ways of integrating different natural and social science perspectives.

  • Applied palaeoecology
  • Environmental archaeology
  • Environmental history
  • Late Holocene environmental change
  • Upland conservation
  • Participatory natural resource management


Teaching Interests

  • Holocene environmental change
  • Long-term interactions between ecology and land management
  • Environmental and socio-economic aspects of natural resource management