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Dr Mike Jeffries

Associate Professor

Department: Geography and Environmental Sciences

As with so many ecologists it is hard to tell when the child with a net and jam-jar dabbling in a pond turned into the researcher with a net and a white tray dabbling in multivariate statistics. I am by training a zoologist (University of Bristol, 1980), the great good fortune of a doctorate from John Lawton’s lab at York, (1985) and five years at Edinburgh University’s Department of Forestry and Natural Resources before joining Northumbria University. And like so many academics, the occasional diversion as shop assistant, civil servant and Punch and Judy man.

Mike Jeffries

Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

My research focuses on three areas (1) ponds, wetlands and their biodiversity, in particular changes over time and space, plus the role of ponds in the carbon cycle; (2) skateboarding culture and the use of cities by young people and (3) pedagogy and students' university experience, primarily the impacts of lad culture.

There are unifying themes which probably reflect the deeper, personal interests that motivate any researcher. For example the ecology of ponds and how youngsters play in cityscapes both have strong elements of fragmented, contingent time and space. Environments change. It is probably not a fluke that the title of one of my pond papers promises the "element of chance" in the distribtuion of pondlife, whilst a skateboard paper spotlights the "accidental youth club". My research repeatedly tunes into that delicate border between a deterministic world and the times and places that do not fit.

Recent pond work has focused on quantifying the importance of ponds in carbon dynamics. Ponds are ubiquitous across the landscapes of Planet Earth, found on every continent, from the heart of ancient deserts to tiny oceanic islands, but have been overlooked. Turns out that typical temperate lowland ponds can bury organic carbon rapidly, and have high levels stored in their sediemtns compared to surrounding grassland and forest. However some can be sources of methane and carbon dioxide, or switch back and forth between being a sink or source within days. Ponds are easy to creeate and fit into so many landscapes. they could be a significant help to mop up carbon, but we're not yet sure precisely which types of ponds work best.

Key Publications

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Pond ecology and conservation: research priorities and knowledge gaps, Hill, M., Greaves, H., Sayer, C., Hassall, C., Milin, M., Milner, V., Marazzi, L., Hall, R., Harper, L., Thornhill, I., Walton, R., Biggs, J., Ewald, N., Law, A., Willby, N., White, J., Briers, R., Mathers, K., Jeffries, M., Wood, P. 22 Jul 2021, In: Ecosphere
  • Quantifying organic carbon storage in temperate pond sediments, Gilbert, P., Taylor, S., Cooke, D., Deary, M., Jeffries, M. 15 Feb 2021, In: Journal of Environmental Management
  • Factors influencing student non-attendance at formal teaching sessions, Sloan, D., Manns, H., Mellor, T., Jeffries, M. 1 Nov 2020, In: Studies in Higher Education
  • ’Is it okay to go out on the pull without it being nasty?’: lads’ performance of lad culture, Jeffries, M. 2 Oct 2020, In: Gender and Education
  • High carbon burial rates by small ponds in the landscape, Taylor, S., Gilbert, P., Cooke, D., Deary, M., Jeffries, M. 1 Feb 2019, In: Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
  • Mapping the City: participatory mapping with young people, Swords, J., Jeffries, M., East, H., Messer, S. 1 Nov 2019, In: Geography
  • Tyneside’s Skateworlds and their Transformation, Swords, J., Jeffries, M. 26 Sep 2018, This is not an Atlas, Transcript
  • Quantifying rapid spatial and temporal variations of CO2 fluxes from small, lowland freshwater ponds, Gilbert, P., Cooke, D., Deary, M., Taylor, S., Jeffries, M. Jun 2017, In: Hydrobiologia
  • "Where does Facebook live?" Mapping identities in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, Messer, S., Swords, J., Jeffries, M. 4 Sep 2017, Architecture Connects, London, UK, Oxford Brookes University
  • Conservation of aquatic invertebrates: concerns, challenges and conundrums, Collier, K., Probert, P., Jeffries, M. Sep 2016, In: Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems

PGR Supervision

  • Peter Gilbert The Power of Ponds? Quantifying Sediment Carbon Stocks Within, and Fluxes from, Small Ponds Start Date: 01/10/2012 End Date: 24/05/2017
  • Scott Taylor Exploring Factors Driving Organic Carbon Burial and Storage in Small Constructed Ponds: An Experimental Approach Start Date: 20/06/2016 End Date: 29/09/2017


  • Ecology PhD January 01 1990
  • Senior Fellow (SFHEA) Higher Education Academy (HEA) 2013

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