Dr Steven Sait

Dr Steven Sait

Profile

My research career began at the University of Liverpool where I completed my PhD and first postdoctoral position. I then had a spell at the NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Oxford before returning to Liverpool with a 5-year NERC Advanced Fellowship. I moved to Leeds in 2002 with a 5-year Leeds University Research Fellowship and have been a Reader in Ecology since 2008.

Responsibilities

  • Ecology and Conservation Biology Programme Leader

Research interests

The group investigates population and community ecology and evolution, with an emphasis on natural enemies (predators, parasitoid wasps, parasites and pathogens) and the fundamental role of trophic interactions in communities, how they underpin ecosystem functions and the provisioning of ecosystem services. As well as addressing exciting fundamental science, the research has broad-ranging applications, such as the biological control of crop pests and the impact of environmental change on species co-existence and extinction risk. A flavour of the group's activities can be seen in our current projects.

Current projects:

Interactions between sources of environmental change: How do resource quality and coloured environments modify multi-trophic eco-evolutionary dynamics? (NERC)
Environmental variation is in all natural ecosystems and understanding how it affects individuals within a species, changes their population size and their interactions with other species is fundamental to ecology. The Leeds team, Dr Marianne Mugabo and Edward Hall, uses laboratory biological systems that mimic real world conditions. In this project we are investigating how insect host-parasitoid interactions and individual life histories are affected by different kinds of variable temperature and degraded environments. In collaboration with mathematical modellers at Swansea University (http://www.swansea.ac.uk/staff/science/biosciences/m.s.fowler/), our research will inform how interacting species will respond to climate change, which has important implications for the management of natural populations in future.

Valuing Orchard and Integrated Crop Ecocystem Services (BBSRC GCRF VOICES).
In collaboration with Bill Kunin in Biology and Effie Kesidou in Leeds Business School, as well as colleagues in the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew and in the Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa, this project is investigating how pollination and biocontrol of pests in apples and pears is affected by different types of orchard management and different levels of surrounding natural landscapes. Our postdocs Peter Steward and Serdal Ozusaglam are testing whether floral cover crops in orchards can boost the natural control of pests and what kinds of innovations in production are sustainable and can have benefits for the industry in South Africa. 

Food-system Resilience: Increasing Capacity and Advising Policy (GCRF AFRICAP).
This project aims to support smallholder farmers in Africa to meet their food security needs by developing sustainable and productive food systems. The group's work on agri-ecology in Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia is part of a large interdisciplinary team comprising ecologists, plant and soil scientists, socio-economists, climate scientists and international development planners from the University of Leeds, Aberdeen, Chatham House, UK Met Office and the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) in Africa. A particular focus of the group's work in Tanzania, for example, is evaluating how different kinds of climate smart agricultural practices may be used to effectively support development and ensure food security and a more resilient food system in a changing climate.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://biologicalsciences.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Qualifications

  • BSc, Nottingham; PhD 1991, Liverpool.

Professional memberships

  • British Ecological Society

Student education

I am Programme Leader for the Ecology and Conservation Biology degree programme and I deliver teaching at all undergraduate levels as well as taught postgraduate teaching as part of the masters in Biodiversity and Conservation.

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://biologicalsciences.leeds.ac.uk/research-opportunities">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>