Skip to main content
School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences

Dr Tom Fayle


Senior Lecturer in Ecology

Room Number: 6.02, Fogg Building

Undergraduate Teaching

Research Methods and Communication (BIO209; MO) 

Essential Skills for Biologists (BIO100; Tutorials) 

Professional Skills and Development for Biologists (BIO329; Tutorials) 

Postgraduate Teaching

Research Project in Biodiversity and Conservation (BIO791P; MO) 

Plant and Fungal Taxonomy, Diversity and Conservation Research Project (BIO709P; MO) 

Biodiversity and Conservation Field Course (BIO775P) 


Research Interests:

Global patterns in network ecology

Our group is interested in the manner in which network structure changes in relation to the environment, both for natural and human-created gradients. This is important, because network structure can dictate ecosystem functioning and ongoing stability in the face of global changes.

Initially we focused on field-based work assessing how interactions and networks change locally. We then founded the LifeWebs project (, with the aim of understanding these patterns at global scales. We are doing this by collating as much as possible of the existing published and unpublished bipartite terrestrial network data.

Impacts of global change on ecological communities, networks and ecosystem functioning Humans are currently exerting an unprecedented influence on the natural world. The two most important ways in which humans are affecting natural systems is through conversion of natural habitats, and anthropogenic climate change. We are interested in quantifying these influences in terms of changes
in the structure of communities and networks, and the consequences of this for ecosystem functioning.

The evolutionary ecology of mutualisms

We am interested in the evolution and ongoing maintenance of mutualisms, in particular in relation to how mutualistic interactions are affected by anthropogenic  habitat change. Humans alter natural habitats, and in so doing affect both the biotic and abiotic environments experienced by mutualistic partners. We have been exploring this using ant-inhabited plants, in which entire colonies of ants live in
specially grown plant structures. In return for this living space, ants protect plants from leaf eating animals, and also from encroachment by competing plant individuals. We are currently exploring whether plant mutualists can mediate a kind of “reverse Janzen-Connell effect”, whereby the negative impacts of living close to conspecifics are counterbalanced by sharing of ant mutualists. 


Frederick James Wilkinson 

Mengdi Li 

Maggie Finlayson-Sykes 

Scholarly Contributions

Tom Fayle's Google Scholar Profile


Back to top