Dr Moya Burns

Lecturer in Ecology and Environmental Science

School/Department: Biological Sciences, School of

Telephone: +44 (0)116 252 3715



Dr Moya Burns is co-lead for the Environmental Change and Loss research challenge in the Institute for Environmental Futures. Dr Burns' work encompasses interdisciplinary themes around ecology, psychology and pedagogy. She is interested in exploring how citizen science can be imbedded in teaching to generate data which addresses current environmental challenges, whilst also enabling students to gain authentic experience in research and ecological survey skills. With colleagues in psychology Dr Burns works on a number of projects which explore the potential wellbeing benefits of citizen science approaches on students and members of the public. Dr Burns embeds her teaching and research around applied ecological questions on topics such as improving urban biodiversity, forest restoration and river restoration with collaborators from Saving Saffron Brook, Leicester City Council, Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife trust, The National Forest, Earthwatch and Twycross Zoo.



Current research projects fall under three broad categories:

  • Citizen science and nature-connectedness
    • Working with colleagues in psychology to explore how citizen science approaches can be applied as a ‘green prescribing’ measure and how this may improve wellbeing, particularly in underrepresented groups.
    • Exploring the impact of embedding citizen science in teaching on student attainment, satisfaction, wellbeing and environmental literacy.


  • Forest ecology and restoration
    • The role of invertebrates in wood decomposition and carbon cycling. Current experiments in this field in the Ecuadorian Amazon with Operation Wallacea and in the UK at BIFoR FACE (Birmingham Institute of Forest Research Free-Air Carbon dioxide Enrichment).
    • Creating urban forests with Earthwatch Europe (
    • Working with the National Forest exploring the impacts of deadwood addition and tree veteranisation on young forest plantations.


  • Urban ecology
    • Working with the Saving the Saffron Brook project to explore the impacts of river restoration on water quality.
    • Working with Leicester City Council to investigate how biodiversity in the city can be increased by creating wildflowers meadows on roadside verges (the Leicester Bee Road project).



Williams, M., Adeney Thomas, J., Brown, G., Pathak, M., Burns, M., Steffen, W., Clarkson, J., Zalasiewicz, J. 2022. 'Mutualistic Cities of the Near Future', in Adeney Thomas, J. (ed,), Altered Earth: Getting the Anthropocene Right. Polity Books.

Cooke, J., Araya, Y., Bacon, K.L., Bagniewska, J.M., Batty, L.C., Bishop, T.R., Burns, M., Charalambous, M., Daversa, D.R., Dougherty, L.R. and Dyson, M., 2021. Teaching and learning in ecology: a horizon scan of emerging challenges and solutions. Oikos, 130(1), pp.15-28.



Forest ecology: In particular the role of deadwood in biodiversity enrichment and carbon cycling.

Integrating citizen science, pedagogy and wellbeing.

Urban ecology: In particular the impacts of artificial lighting at night on bats and invertebrates.


Dr Burns teaches across Biological Sciences, Natural Sciences and Geography, and is programme lead for the Natural Sciences (Zoological and Ecological Science) stream.

Dr Burns convenes courses in global change biology and conservation, behavioural ecology, field biology and statistics.

Press and media

  • Citizen Science.
  • Urban Ecology.
  • Forest Ecology.


  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Authority (SFHEA). 2021
  • DPhil, Zoology. University of Oxford. 2015.
  • BSc (Hons) Ecological Sciences (Ecology). University of Edinburgh. 2006.
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