Dr Francine Hughes

Emeritus Reader

Applied Ecology Research Group

Faculty:Faculty of Science and Engineering

School:Life Sciences

Location: Cambridge

Areas of Expertise: Animal and environmental biology , Ecosystems and Human Wellbeing

Francine’s research focuses on wetland ecology and restoration and on designing monitoring approaches to landscape scale restoration projects. She also teaches on our MSc Applied Wildlife Conservation.



Francine is a member of the Applied Ecology Research Group in our Department of Biology.

Before joining ARU, she was a senior research associate in the Department of Geography at the University of Cambridge where she jointly coordinated, with Professor Keith Richards, three EU-funded research projects that studied the ecology, hydrology and restoration of European floodplain forests. The most recent of these projects, FLOBAR2 'FLOodplain Biodiversity And Restoration', carried out research on floodplain ecosystems in France, Sweden, Germany, the UK and Canada and its findings are summarised in a document called The Flooded Forest: see https://www.geog.cam.ac.uk/research/projects/flobar2/reports/final/flobar2.pdf.

Francine has also carried out research on the downstream impacts of dams on riparian and deltaic ecosystems in Canada and Kenya.

Research interests

  • The development of conceptual and practical approaches to monitoring and evaluating trajectories of ecological change in landscape-scale wetland restoration projects. This research received funding for the period 2007–2012 from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, to set up an eco-hydrological monitoring programme and to develop protocols for evaluation of re-naturalised wetland habitats at the Great Fen Project and at the Wicken Fen Vision Project in Cambridgeshire, UK.
  • The design of practical approaches to measuring ecosystem services at the site scale. This ongoing project [http://tessa.tools/] has designed a Toolkit for EcoSystem Services Assessment (TESSA), led by the University of Cambridge and involves a partnership between the University of Cambridge, Anglia Ruskin University, The UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Centre, Birdlife International, RSPB and the Tropical Biology Association funded through the Cambridge Conservation Initiative (CCI) Collaborative Fund from April 2010–May 2011. In May 2011, the project was extended with a postdoctoral fellowship from AXA until 2013 and a further grant from the CCI (June 2012). I have led development of the water services section of the toolkit.

Areas of research supervision

  • Wetland ecohydrology
  • Floodplain forest ecology and restoration
  • Landscape-scale wetland restoration
  • Current PhD supervision: Hilary Conlon, Pollinator diversity and networks in the fen landscape


MSc Applied Wildlife Conservation


  • PhD Geography, University of Cambridge
  • MSc Geography, University of Calgary
  • BA Geography, University of Cambridge

Memberships, editorial boards

  • Member of the Editorial Board of Ecological Restoration 
  • Member, the Higher Education Authority

Selected recent publications

Ockenden, N., Thomas, D,H.L., Cortina, J., Adams, W.M., Aykroyd, T.,Barov,B., Boitani,L. Bonn,A., Branquinho,C., Brombacher,M., Burrell,C., Carver, S., Crick, H.Q.P., Duguy,B., Everett, S., Fokkens, B., Fullers,R.J., Gibbons,D.W., Gokhelashvili, R., Griffin,C.,Halley,D.J., Hotham,P., Hughes, F.M.R., Karamanlidis, A.A., McOwen,C.J., Miles,L., Mitchell,R., Rands,M.R.W., Roberts,J.,Sandom,C.J., Spencer,J.W., ten Broeke,E., Tew,E.R., Thomas, C.D., Timoshyna,A., Unsworth,R.K.F., Warrington,S., Sutherland, W.J., 2018. One hundred priority questions for landscape restoration in Europe. Biological Conservation, 221, pp.198-208.

Weber, C, Aberg, U., Buijse, A.D., Hughes, F.M.R., Piegay, H., Roni, P., Vollenweider, S. and Haertel-Borer, S., 2017. Goals and principles for programmatic river restoration monitoring and evaluation: Collaborative learning across multiple projects. WIREs Water, e1257. doi: 10.1002/wat2.1257.

Hughes, F.M.R., Adams, W.M., Butchart, S.H.M., Field, R.H., Peh, K.S.-H. and Warrington, S., 2016. The challenges of integrating biodiversity and ecosystem services monitoring and evaluation at a landscape-scale wetland restoration project in the UK. Ecology and Society 21(3), pp.10. http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-08616-210310.

Peh, K.S-H, Thapa, I., Basnyat, M., Balmford, A., Bhattarai, G. P., Bradbury, R.B., Brown, C., Butchart, S., Dhakal, M., Gurung, H., Hughes, F.M.R., Mulligan, M., Pandeya, B.,., Stattersfield, A.J.,., Thomas, D.H.L., Walpole, M. and Merriman, J.C., 2016. Synergies between biodiversity conservation and ecosystem service provision: Lessons from a Himalayan protected area in Nepal. Ecosystem Services. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoser.2016.05.003.

Peh, K.S-H., Balmford, A., Birch, J.C., Brown, C., Butchart, S. H. M., Daley, J., Dawson, J., Gray, G., Hughes, F.M.R., Mendes, S., Millett, J., Stattersfield, A.J., Thomas, D. H. L., Walpole, M. and Bradbury R. B., 2015. Potential impact of invasive alien species on ecosystem services provided by a tropical forested ecosystem: a case study from Montserrat. Biological Invasions, 17, pp.461-475. doi: 10.1007/s10530-014-0743-9.

Peh, K.S-H., Balmford, A., Field, R.H., Lamb, A., Birch, J.C., Bradbury, R. B., Brown, C., Butchart, S. H. M., Lester, M., Morrison, R., Sedgwick, I., Soans, C., Stattersfield, A.J., Stroh, P.A., Swetnam, R.D., Thomas, D. H. L., Walpole, M., Warrington, S. and Hughes, F.M.R., 2014. Benefits and costs of ecological restoration: rapid assessment of changing ecosystem service values at a UK wetland. Ecology and Evolution, 20, pp.3875-3886. doi: 10.1002/ece3.1248.

Birch, J.C., Thapa, I., Balmford, A., Bradbury, R.B., Brown, C., Butchart, S., Gurung, H., Hughes, F.M.R., Mulligan, M., Pandeya, B., Peh, K.S-H., Stattersfield, A.J., Thomas, D.H.L. and Walpole, M., 2014. What benefits do community forests provide, and to whom? A rapid assessment of ecosystem services from a Himalayan forest, Nepal. Ecosystem Services, 8, pp.118-127.

Peh, K. S.-H., Balmford, A., Bradbury, R. B., Brown, C., Butchart, S. H. M., Brown, C., Hughes, F. M. R., Stattersfield, A., Thomas, D. H. L., Walpole, M., Bayliss, J., Gowing, D., Jones, J. P. G., Lewis, S. L., Mulligan, M., Pandeya, B., Stratford, C., Thompson, J. R., Turner, K., Vira, B., Willcock. S. and Birch, J., 2013. TESSA: a toolkit for rapid assessment of ecosystem services at sites of biodiversity conservation importance. Ecosystem Services, 5, e51-e57. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoser.2013.06.003.

Stroh, P.A., Mountford, J.O., Araya, Y.N. and Hughes, F.M.R., 2013. Quantifying soil hydrology to explain the development of vegetation at an ex-arable wetland restoration site. Wetlands, 33, pp.311-320. doi: 10.1007/s13157-013-0385-1.

Hughes, F.M.R., del Tanago, M.G. and Mountford, J.O., 2012. Restoring floodplain forests in Europe. In: Stanturf, J., Madsen, P. and Lamb, D., eds. A Goal-Oriented Approach to Forest Landscape Restoration. Springer-Verlag, pp.393-422.

Hughes, F.M.R., Adams, W.M. and Stroh, P.A., 2012. When is open-endedness desirable in restoration projects? Restoration Ecology, 20, pp.291-295. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-100X.2012.00874.x.

Stroh, P.A. Hughes, F.M.R. and Mountford, J.O., 2012. The potential for endozoochorous dispersal of temperate fen plant species by free-roaming horses. Applied Vegetation Science. doi: 10.1111/j.1654-109X.2011.01172.x.

Stroh, P.A., Hughes, F.M.R., Sparks, T. and Mountford, J.O., 2012. The influence of time on the soil seed bank and vegetation across a landscape-scale wetland restoration project. Restoration Ecology, 20, pp.103-112. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-100X.2010.00740.x.

Hughes, F.M.R., Stroh, P.A., Adams, W.A. Kirby, K., Mountford, J.O. and Warrington, S., 2011. Monitoring and evaluating large-scale, open-ended habitat creation projects: a journey rather than a destination. Journal for Nature Conservation, 19, pp.245-253. doi:10.1016/j.jnc.2011.02.003.

Martay, B. Hughes, F.M.R. and Doberski, J., 2011. A comparison of created and ancient fenland using ground beetles as a measure of conservation value. Insect Conservation and Diversity, article first published online on 29 June 2011. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-4598.2011.00159.x.

Guilloy-Froget, H. Gonzalez, E., Muller, E., Hughes, F.M.R. and Barsoum, N., 2011. The influence of abrupt water table declines on survival and growth of Populus nigra and Salix alba seedlings of different ages. Wetlands, 31, pp.1249-1261. doi: 10.1007/s13157-011-0238-8.