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, then the great good fortune of a doctorate from John Lawton’s lab at York 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. Skateboarding and lo-fi culture also easily distract me

My work on ponds and their wildlife mixes a fascination with the patterns and processes evident in animal communities and the wider place of ponds in the landscape.

Ponds in a landscape are strikingly varied in their wildlife, even ponds close to one another. It may be that they are minutely sensitive to local conditions or perhaps it is occasional, hard to record events that trigger distinct changes. I’m still not sure, because I’ve got evidence for both. They make a good test bed for trying out ideas.