Mark Gurney, Reserves Ecologist, tapping tree branch to dislodge insects onto collecting sheet

Reserves Ecologist

Read more if you're interested in becoming a Reserves Ecologist.

Q&A with Mark Gurney

Job title: Reserves Ecologist
Company: RSPB 
Location: UK Headquarters, The Lodge, Bedfordshire  
Typical hours: 9am until 5.15pm, five days a week (plus travel)

What are your main duties and responsibilities?

To make sure that our nature reserves are managed for everything other than birds, so all the plants and animals and fungi that are found there. 

Can you describe a typical day in (or out) of the office?

A typical day in the office would be looking at some of the fieldwork that I'd done. Then I would be writing that up, analysing the results and then trying to put that into a report that will summarise some recommendations for the wardens and site managers. Then we can make sure that the reserves are managed taking into account all of the biodiversity that's found there.

Which qualifications are useful or necessary for this field of work?

I have a Degree in ecology and then I did a PhD, which was on the conservation biology of rare plants. But as well as the academic qualifications, I think that a good knowledge of natural history is probably one of the most important things.

Which route did you take to enter this field of work?

I'd always been interested in birds and other wildlife. I got into plants when I was quite young and that gave me good botanical skills and I thought I wanted to work in conservation, and working with plants in particular at that time was something I wanted to do. 

That was reflected in what I did at school, in my A-Levels (which were in biology) and then in my Degree and my PhD. After that I was looking for jobs in various organisations and came across a contract that was advertised at the RSPB and that's how I started, seven years ago.

For you, what makes it worth coming into work each day?

For me it's always worth coming into work because I'm surrounded by people who share similar values to me and they understand what makes me tick and I understand what makes the RSPB tick. I love getting to work on some of our best sites in the country on the RSPB's nature reserves. Getting sent all over the country to visit those is a real treat.

Are there any downsides?

I probably don't get paid as much as I could do doing something that I'd rather not be doing. That's a downside, but I enjoy what I do.

Mark Gurney - Reserves Ecologist

An interview with Mark Gurney, Reserves Ecologist at The Lodge

Mark Gurney discusses his responsibilities as a Reserves Ecologist, how he got into this field and why he enjoys it.

Mark Gurney, Reserves Ecologist - video screenshot