Sara Lil Middleton

Academic Profile


MRes Ecosystem and Environmental Change, Distinction, Imperial College London (2016-2017) Supervisors: Prof. Colin Prentice, Dr Henry Ford

Thesis title: “Which traits determine the success of plant invaders? A multivariate analysis of the flora of the United Kingdom”. This involved the extensive use of the UK Ecoflora plant trait database and UK climate data to create trait profiles of invasive species and current and predicted species range maps under climate change.

BSc Environmental Sciences, First Class Honours, Oxford Brookes University (2012-2015) Supervisor: Dr Andrew Lack

Thesis title: “An assessment of the distribution of lupins (Lupinus nootkatenis) and the effect on native flora in Thorsmork, southern Iceland”. The project included a month of fieldwork in southern Iceland doing botanical surveys in habitats dominated by lupins and those without lupins.

Prizes and awards

Oxfordshire Community Scholarship (2012-2015)
Dan Hemingway (Art) Prize for Creativity (2010)

Field experience

I have a range of practical field experience in tropical, temperate and sub-arctic ecosystems:

Plant diversity comparisons in several types of banana production systems in Costa Rica (2018)
Field work assistant in Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica, I assisted with tree identification, caiman, small mammals, bats, otters and macaw surveys (2018)
Fieldwork on lupins in Iceland for my BSc project (2014)
Great crested newt surveys in Oxfordshire (2014)
Terrestrial and freshwater macro invertebrate studies in Cevennes National Park, France (2013)

Work experience and outreach

Since December 2017, I have been a data analyst at the Ecoflora plant trait database. I am also the project coordinator for the documentary film project ‘Bananageddon’, which looks at the socio-political and environmental issues of banana production. At the start of 2018, I founded the Human Nature Stories Project, which examines people’s connection to nature through a series of photographed interviews with members of the public.

Current Research

I am an invasive plant ecologist, interested in using a functional trait approach looking at plant invasions, across the whole naturalised-invasion continuum. I am also interested in the level of plasticity of these functional traits in relation to environmental change pressures and how it relates to species’ population dynamics.


Poster presentations

Middleton, S. L., Prentice, I. C. and Ford, H, Looking across the invasion continuum, what functional traits determine successful plant invaders? Connecting research, management and policy, British Ecological Society Invasion Science SIG, London  (1-2 November 2018)