Ben Pile


I completed Zoology MBiol, BSc in 2017, after an Interdisciplinary Science Foundation Year with the Lifelong Learning Centre at the University of Leeds. After carrying out undergraduate 3rd year and masters projects in Alison Dunn's lab I joined as a PGR to study for a PhD in October 2017 with a Leeds Doctoral Scholarship.  

Research interests

I am researching the impacts of interacting stressors on freshwater ecosystems through changes to community structure and rates of vital ecosystem processes.  Invasive non-native species (INNS) are negatively affecting ecosystems globally, decreasing biodiversity, increasing homogeneity of community structures and altering ecosystem processes.  Climate change is also affecting ecosystems globally, not only with increasing average temperatures, but also with increasingly frequent and intense extreme weather events.  Heatwaves affect mortality and behaviour, and change interactions of species within trophic webs and are predicted to become more common, so I focus on the impacts of these extreme weather events on my study systems.  Parasites are ubiquitous, altering species densities, behaviours and interactions and having profound impacts on trophic webs which have often been underestimated.

Freshwater ecosystems provide vital ecosystem services such as water filtration, flood defence and food provision, with extremely high biodiversity relative to their volume.  However the proximity of many lakes and rivers to human development, and the connectedness of freshwater habitats mean they are vulnerable to anthropogenic disturbance.  My research focuses on how the structure of communities within freshwater ecosystems, and vital ecosystem processes, such as detritivory, are affected by interacting stressors.  Native amphipod crustaceans are an important component of UK freshwater habitats, processing leaf litter detritus and providing important links in trophic webs.  Invasive Ponto-Caspian amphipod species are now found throughout Europe and the UK, with impacts to detritus processing and trophic web structures.  I research how detritivory and community structure are affected by the biotic factors of native and invasive amphipods, their associated parasites and the abiotic factor of heatwaves to determine how these stressors interact to produce outcomes in UK freshwater ecosystems. 


Bojko, J., Stentiford, G.D., Stebbing, P.D., Hassall, C., Deacon, A., Cargill, B., Pile, B. and Dunn, A.M. (2018) ‘Pathogens of Dikerogammarus haemobaphes regulate host activity and survival, but also threaten native amphipod populations in the UK’, Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, View, pp. 1–16. doi: 10.3354/dao03195.




  • MBiol, BSc, Zoology