Research Scientist, James Hutton Institute

Ruth Mitchell is a plant/soil research scientist within the Ecology Sciences Group at the Institute with 15 years experience of working on a wide range of applied ecological research projects. Her research focuses on the impact of pressures on above and below ground biodiversity and habitat restoration.

Current research interests

Ruth's research focuses on the impact of abiotic and anthropogenic factors on above and below-ground biodiversity and habitat restoration. Most recently Ruth has been working on the potential ecological impacts of the tree disease ash dieback (also known as Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus or Chalara fraxinea). She lead a team of reachers who identified those species that are most closely associated with ash and therefore are most at risk from ash dieback. In addition the team identified the unique ecological functioning of ash trees compared to other native trees in the UK and produced a range of tools to aid woodland managers in conserving ash associated biodiversity. The full report can be found here

Ruth has a long standing interested in successional processes and her work on plant-soil interactions studies how changes in land-use (principally tree colonisation on moorland) affects the vegetation, soil chemistry, soil fauna and ecosystem functioning. She co-ordinates a large, long-term experiment studying the impact of tree colonisation on moorland biodiversity and ecosystem processes (MOORCO). Ruth's research on the impact of pressures on biodiversity has focussed on grazing, pollution and climate change. She has worked on over-grazing issues in both moorlands and Atlantic oakwoods and assessed the impact of nitrogen deposition on heather-dominated moorland and on epiphytic lichens and bryophytes in Atlantic oakwoods. Ruth has carried out research on the restoration of a range of habitats resulting in techniques for re-establishment of heathland (both soils and vegetation) following scrub invasion, the establishment of heather on over-grazed moorlands, the restoration of Atlantic Oakwoods and the recovery of epiphytic bryophytes following a reduction in nitrogen pollution.

Ruth is on the council of the British Ecological Society.


  • –present
    Research Scientist, James Hutton Institute