Dr Mark Hancock

Senior Conservation Scientist, Conservation Science

Background

My research aims to inform conservation issues around two key habitats: peatlands - particularly blanket bogs; and native pinewoods. Much of my work centres on two important RSPB nature reserves in the north of Scotland: Forsinard Flows and Abernethy Forest. Here, RSPB science staff work closely with reserves staff and external researchers to compare alternative conservation actions.

At present, we are testing potential solutions to:
• Reverse population declines in key iconic species such as the common scoter and the capercaillie.
• Restore areas of blanket bog which were damaged by inappropriate forestry in the 1980's.
• Restore and expanding ancient native pinewood fragments using natural means.

In previous research projects, I have investigated the role of fire and cattle in native pinewoods, the breeding ecology of grebes and divers and effects of afforestation on breeding waders. The fire and cattle work involved establishing long-term experimental areas which we revisit periodically. We also plan new work in this area.

I manage field staff including Trevor Smith and Paul Stagg and help supervise or mentor a number of PhD and Masters students and conservation apprenticeships.

I have particular interests in using large-scale field trials or experiments to inform the development of novel conservation management techniques, the ecology and management of nutrient-poor lakes and the fire ecology of pinewoods, heaths and moors.

External Activities

  • 2014 to present: Advisory group member, University of the Highlands and Islands, Rivers and Lochs Institute

Partners and Collaboration

  • Dr Roxane Andersen, Environmental Research Institute, University of the Highlands and Islands
  • Dr Andy Douse, Scottish Natural Heritage
  • Dr Rebekka Artz, James Hutton Institute
  • Dr Russell Anderson, Forest Research

Contact

Mark Hancock

Dr Mark Hancock

Senior Conservation Scientist, Conservation Science

North Scotland Regional Office, Etive House, Beechwood Park, Inverness, IV2 3BW

mark.hancock@rspb.org.uk

Specialisms

Ecosystem services Protected areas UK species Upland Woodland

Selected Publications

Correlates of lake use by breeding common scoters in Scotland

Many populations of sea-ducks, which typically winter at sea but breed on fresh water, are declining. Numbers of common scoters Melanitta nigra (L.) breeding in Scotland halved between 1995 and...

Date
02 August 2016
RSPB Authors
Dr Mark Hancock, Trevor Smith
Authors
Hancock, M., Robson, H.J., Smith, T.D. & Douse, A.
Published in
Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 26: 749–767
View publication Details
Common scoter Scotland Marine UK species

Modelling edge effects of mature forest plantations on peatland waders informs landscape-scale conservation

Edge effects of native forest fragmentation have been well studied, but there are few studies of open-ground habitats fragmented by plantation forests. We measure forestry edge effects on open-ground ...

Date
15 October 2013
RSPB Authors
Dr Mark Hancock, Prof Jeremy Wilson
Authors
Wilson, J.D., Anderson, R., Bailey, S., Chetcuti, J., Cowie, N.R., Hancock, M.H., Quine C.P., Russell, N., Stephen, L. & Thompson, D.B.A.
Published in
Journal of Applied Ecology
View publication Details
Scotland UK species Upland

Pitfall trapping bias and arthropod body mass

Pitfall trapping is one of the most widely used arthropod sampling techniques. However, relative species abundance in pitfall trap catches differs from that found using quadrat samples. This differ...

Date
19 September 2011
RSPB Authors
Dr Mark Hancock
Authors
Hancock, M.H. & Legg, C.J.
Published in
Insect Conservation and Diversity
View publication Details
UK Identifying problems

Burning and mowing as habitat management for capercaillie Tetrao urogallus: An experimental test

In Scots pine Pinus sylvestris forests, the important ecological effects of natural fires could be emulated using prescribed fire. Species that may benefit from fire effects include capercaillie...

Date
08 May 2011
RSPB Authors
Dr Mark Hancock, Dr Ron Summers
Authors
Hancock, M.H., Amphlett, A. Proctor, R., Dugan, D., Willi, J., Harvey, P. & Summers, R.W.
Published in
Forest Ecology and Management
View publication Details
Capercaillie UK Woodland

An exceptional Calluna vulgaris winter die-back event, Abernethy Forest, Scottish Highlands

Calluna vulgaris is a woody shrub forming plant communities of economic and international conservation importance. Following winter 2002-2003, there was exceptional Calluna die-back in the central...

Date
13 August 2008
RSPB Authors
Dr Mark Hancock
Authors
Hancock, M.H.
Published in
Plant Ecology & Diversity
View publication Details
Scotland Identifying problems UK species Upland