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Professor Martin Kent

Emeritus Professor

Faculty of Science and Engineering



I have now been retired from full academic life for five years but still maintain a strong interest in my subject. I am active in external examining both at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. The revised edition of my textbook - Vegetation Description and Data Analysis - a Practical Approach 2e was published in 2012 by Wiley-Blackwell and has attracted a lot of interest. It is available from the Wiley-Blackwell website and from Amazon UK, where it is available in both paperback and Kindle editions.


Academic Qualifications

B.A.(Hons.) Geography Class 2:1 University of Sheffield 1970

M.Sc. Conservation University College London 1971

Diploma in Conservation University College London 1971

Ph.D. Landscape Architecture University of Sheffield 1979

Thesis entitled: Regional Evaluation for Colliery Spoil Reclamation

Previous positions

1973-1982 - Lecturer in Biogeography, Plymouth Polytechnic

1982-1990 - Senior Lecturer in Biogeography, Polytechnic South West

1990-1995 - Principal Lecturer in Biogeography, University of Plymouth

1995-1998 - Reader in Biogeography, University of Plymouth

1998-2009 Professor in Biogeography, University of Plymouth

2009 on - Emeritus Professor in Biogeography, Plymouth University

Professional membership

Professional Qualifications

Former member of the British Ecological Society

Former member of the Biogeography Study Group of the Royal Geographical Society/Institute of British Geographers

Former member of the International Association of Vegetation Science

Registered Practitioner of the Higher Education Academy (HEA)

Roles on external bodies

Journal Editorial Board

Former member of Editorial Board of Applied Geography

Journal Refereeing/Reviewing

Numerous research articles refereed for the following journals: Annals of Botany, Annales Botanici Fennici, Applied Geography, Applied Vegetation Science, Area, Biological Conservation, Ecological Applications, Ecological Engineering, Ecology, Environmental Conservation, Functional Ecology, Global Ecology and Biogeography, Journal of Archaeological Science, Journal of Biogeography, Journal of Applied Ecology, Journal of Ecology, Journal of Environmental Management, Journal of Vegetation Science, Land Degradation and Development, Plant Ecology, Polar Research, Restoration Ecology, Scottish Geographical Magazine, The Geographical Review, The Geographical Journal, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers.

Book Proposal/Manuscript Reviews

Numerous book proposals and manuscripts have been reviewed for Blackwell Scientific, Cambridge University Press, John Wiley and Sons, Routledge, Chapman and Hall, Harper Collins, Addison Wesley Longman/Pearson Education, Oxford University Press.

Research proposal refereeing

Former Referee for:

Natural Environment Research Council Block grants/awards.

Austrian Science Fund Board (Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forshung).

South African National Research Foundation (SNRF).

The Royal Society.



Teaching interests

Former undergraduate teaching

Most of my teaching was on the B.A./B.Sc.(Hons.) Geography degrees and B.Sc.(Hons.) Earth Science degree here in Plymouth. My teaching focuses on Biogeography, Landscape Ecology, Quantitative Plant Ecology and Biological Conservation.

On the Geography degrees I taught on the following modules:

GGP1108 Introducing Physical Geography: Biogeography and Environmental Change

GGP1101/2 First Year Tutorials

GGX2105/EAR2109 Western Ireland Fieldwork and Group Skills

GGP2116 Landscape Ecology and Biogeography

GGX3101 Dissertation in Geography

GGX3103 Geography and Careers

GGX3105 Advanced Fieldwork in Geography – Crete Field Course

GGP3113 Environmental Sustainability and Biological Conservation

Postgraduate teaching

EAR5102 Multivariate Analysis for Environmental Science Research (taught to students on the following M.Sc./M.Res. pathways - Biological Diversity, Botanical Conservation, Global Environmental Management, Sustainable Environmental Management, Micropalaeontology, Marine Biology)

SCI5301 Masters and M.Res. Dissertations

In October/November 2003, July 2005, July 2007 and September 2010 I presented my M.Sc. Module in Multivariate Analysis for Environmental Science Research to Masters degree students in the Departments of Geography, Biology and Environmental Science at East China Normal University, Shanghai, China.

Staff serving as external examiners

External examining

2001-2004 – University of Liverpool – External examiner for B.Sc. Joint Honours Geography/Biology

2001-2005 – University of Reading – External examiner for B.A./B.Sc.(Hons) Geography

2004 - B.Sc.(Hons.) Environmental Science – International University Study Centre (IUSC) (Centre d’Estudis Universitaris), Barcelona, Spain (Validation through the external validation service of the University of Wales, Cardiff)

Recent Ph.D. externalling

Ioannis Vogiatzakis – Predicting the distribution of plant communities in the Lefka Ori Massif, Crete, using GIS. Ph.D. thesis, Department of Geography, University of Reading. December 2000.

Janet Jackson – Spatial and temporal dynamics of plants colonising species-poor hedgerows. Ph.D. thesis, University College Northampton. May 2001.

Kevin Austin – Botanical Processes in Urban Derelict Spaces. Ph.D. thesis, Department of Geography, University of Birmingham. July 2002.

Riffat Naseem Malik – Vegetation Mapping in the North-West of Pakistan. Ph.D. thesis, School of Plant Sciences, University of Reading. September 2003.
Pam Vass - Plant Diversity and Spatial Discontinuities of th Albany Centre in the South-Eastern Cape, South Africa. Ph.D. thsis, Kings College, University of London, February 2005.
Benedict Radford - Cross-shelf coral reef biodiversity - do data and ecological theory fit with habitat-based species conservation models?, The University of Western Austrlia, January 2006.
Amber Vater - Invertebrate and arachnid succession on selected glacier forelands in southern Norway, Department of Geography, University of Swansea, December 2006
Jane Robbins - The pioneer plant community: studies on roadside verges, glacier forelands and disturbed habitats in Southern Norway. Department of Geography, University of Swansea, June 2007.
Georgina Moden - Hypericum linariifolium (Toadflax-leaved St. John's Wort) - factors influencing the presence of the species at four sites on Dartmoor. Faculty of Built Environment, University of West of England, Bristol, December 2007



Research interests

My main research interests are in biogeography and plant ecology, focusing on the following areas:

Quantitative methods in plant ecology;

Methods in vegetation science;

Plant ecology and environmental management in China;

Evergreen broadleaved forest and its conservation in China;

The nature and conservation of machair sand dune plant communities in the Outer Hebrides;

Burial effects on sand dune vegetation;

Remote sensing and vegetation;

Urban plant ecology;

Geostatistics and boundary analysis in plant ecology;

Studies of seed dynamics (seed banks/seed rain).

Current research is focused on:

The nature of boundaries between plant communities in the machair of the Outer Hebrides;

Evergreen broadleaved forest in China;

Remote sensing and plant functional types in machair vegetation;

Geostatistical analysis of plant community data;

Surrogates for vegetation description;

The ecology of the Culm Grasslands of North Devon and Cornwall.

The second edition of my textbook - Vegetation Description and Analysis - a Practical Approach (John Wiley and Sons) was published in 2012.

Research degrees awarded to supervised students

Recent successful research students

Richard Armitage Transitional areas in semi-natural vegetation - derivation of spatial pattern from remotely-sensed data. Ph.D. awarded 1999. Department of Geographical Sciences, University of Plymouth. Departmental Studentship. Joint supervision with Dr. R.E. Weaver, Department of Geographical Sciences, University of Plymouth.

Dawn Hendon - Robustness and precision of Holocene palaeoclimatic records from peatlands and testate amoebae. Ph.D. awarded 1998. Natural Environment Research Council Studentship. Joint supervision with Dr. Dan Charman, Department of Geographical Sciences, University of Plymouth.

Nia Owen - Anthropogenic and environmental impacts on endangered plant communities: a case study of the machair grasslands of the Outer Hebrides. Ph.D. awarded 1998. University of Plymouth, HEFC/DevR Funding. Joint supervision with Dr. Pam Dale (Biological Sciences).

Emily Southall - The ecology of poor fen and willow scrub on Goss Moor NNR. Ph.D. awarded 2001. Joint supervision with Dr. Pam Dale (Biological Sciences). 1 year part-time funded + 2 year full-time funded from Indian Queens Power/Departmental RAE monies.

Francien van Soest – The development of a methodology for the identification of potential wet grassland restoration sites in South West England. Ph.D. awarded 2002. Jointly funded studentship – English Nature/Environment Agency/University of Plymouth. Joint supervision with Dr. Andrew Williams and Dr. Rob Parkinson (Seale-Hayne).

Gavin Stewart – Grazing Management and Plant Community Composition on Bodmin Moor. Ph.D. awarded 2002. Joint funded studentship - University of Plymouth/English Nature/Hawkes Tor and Ivey Farm Partners. Joint supervision with Dr. Paul Ramsay, Department of Biological Sciences.

Grants & contracts

Recent research grants

1997 Macaulay Land Use Research Institute, Aberdeen Scotland - £10,515 - 50% funding of 3 year Ph.D. Studentship.

1999 Indian Queens Power - £5,000 – part-funding of Ph.D. Studentship (With Dr. P. Dale)

1999 Hawkes Tor/Ivey Farm Partnerships/English Nature - £6,000 – part-funding of Ph.D. Studentship (With Dr. P. Dale)

2000 Environment Agency – Prediction of potential restoration sites for Culm grassland in South West England - £7000 (With A. Williams and R. Parkinson)

2003 The Royal Society – Travel Grant – Research/Study Visit to China, East China Normal University, Shanghai, October-November 2003 - £400




Recent publications include:
Kent, M. (2009) Space: Making room for space in physical geography. In: Holloway, S., Rice, S. and Valentine, G. (eds.) Key Concepts in Geography. 2nd edition. London: Sage Publications, 97-118.

Zhang, L., Gao, Z., Armitage, R. and Kent, M. (2008) Spectral characteristics of plant communities from salt marshes: a case study from Chongming Dongtan, Yangtze Estuary, China. Frontiers of Environmental Science and Engineering in China 2, 187-197.

Pakeman, R., Reid, C.L., Lennon, J.J. and Kent, M. (2008) Possible interactions between environmental factors in determining species optima. Journal of Vegetation Science 19, 201-208..

Kent, M. (2007) Biogeography and macroeocology: now a significant component of physical geography. Progress in Physical Geography 31, 643-657.

Wang, X-H., Kent, M. and Fang, X-F. (2007) Evergreen broad-leaved forest in Eastern China: its ecology and conservation and the importance of resprouting in forest restoration. Forest Ecology and Management 245, 76-87.

Kent, M. (2007) Biogeography and landscape ecology. Progress in Physical Geography 31, 345-355.

Ramsay, P.M., Kent, M., Reid, C.L. and Duckworth, J.C. (2006) Taxonomic, morphological and structural surrogates for the rapid asessment of vegetation. Journal of Vegetation Science 17, 747-754.

Kent, M. (2006) Numerical classification and ordination in biogeography. Progress in Physical Geography 30, 399-408.

Kent, M., Moyeed, R., Reid, C., Pakeman, R. and Weaver, R. (2006) Geostatistics, spatial rate of change analysis and boundary detection in plant ecology and biogeography. Progress in Physical Geography 30, 201-231.

Kent, M., Owen, N.W. and Dale, P. (2005) Photosynthetic responses of plant communities to sand burial on the machair dune systems of the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. Annals of Botany 95, 869-877.

Kent, M. (2005) Biogeography and macroecology. Progress in Physical Geography 29, 256-264.

Owen, N., Kent, M. and Dale, P. (2004) Species and community responses to sand burial on the machair sand dune systems of the Outer Hebrides. Journal of Vegetation Science 15, 669-678.

Armitage, R.P., Kent, M. and Weaver, R.E. (2004) Identification of the spectral characteristics of semi- natural upland vegetation using direct ordination. International Journal of Remote Sensing 25, 3369-3388.

Essex, S., Kent, M. and Newnham, R. (2004) Water supply as a constraint to tourism development: a case study from Mallorca. Journal of Sustainable Tourism 12, 4-28.

Kent, M., Gilbertson, D. and Andrews,M. (2003) Storminess in palaeoclimatic change: the potential of intertidal and littoral shellfish as indicators of changing storm conditions and intensity. In: Livadie, C.A. and Ortolani, F. (eds.) Conference on `L'Histoire du Climat et de l'Environnement depuis l'Antiquité jusqu'a nos Jours'. Climatic-Environmental Variations and Impact on Man in the Circum-Mediterranean Area during the Holocene. Centro Universitario Europeo per I beni Culturali, Ravello, Italy, Edipuglia, Bari, 193-202.

Kent, M. (2003) Space: Making room for space in physical geography. In: Holloway, S., Rice, S. and Valentine, G. (eds.) Key Concepts in Geography. London: Sage Publications, 109-130.

Kent, M., Dargie, T.C. and Reid, C. (2003) The management and conservation of machair vegetation. Botanical Journal of Scotland55, 161-176.

Southall, E.J., Dale, M.P. and Kent, M. (2003) Spatial and temporal analysis of vegetation mosaics for conservation: poor fen communities in a Cornish valley mire. Journal of Biogeography 30, 1427-1443.

Southall, E.J., Dale, M.P. and Kent, M. (2003) Scrub invasion on wetland: an analytical approach to patterns of willow carr growth on Goss Moor NNR, South-West England. Applied Vegetation Science 6, 63-72.

Kent, M, Owen, N., Dale, P., Newnham, R. and Giles, T. (2001) Studies of vegetation burial: a focus for biogeography and biogeomorphology? Progress in Physical Geography 25, 455-482.

Kent, M., Newnham, R. and Essex, S. (2002) Tourism and water supply in Mallorca: a geographical analysis. Applied Geography22, 351-374.

Owen, N.W., Kent, M. and Dale, M.P. (2001) Spatial and temporal variability in seed dynamics of machair sand dune plant communities, the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. Journal of Biogeography 28, 565-588.

Other Publications

I have a total of over 90 refereed publications, which include two textbooks, Vegetation Description and Analysis - a Practical Approach 2nd ed. (John Wiley - 2012) and Practical Ecology for Geography and Biology (Chapman and Hall/Pearson - 1985), over 60 refereed research papers and around 20 book chapters.



Reports & invited lectures

Recent conference papers and lectures

Kent, M. (2001) Plant functional types as alternative descriptors of vegetation and ecosystems for environmental management in the Cantabrian Mountains of Northern Spain. Royal Geographical Society/Institute of British Geographers Annual Conference. University of Plymouth 5th January 2001 (With P. Ramsay and J. C. Duckworth)

Kent, M. (2001) Propagule availability for dwarf shrub heath restoration on Bodmin Moor, Cornwall. Poster for Winter Meeting of the British Ecological Society. (With G. Stewart, M.P. Dale and P. Ramsay) University of Birmingham, December 2000.

Kent, M. (2001) Geostatistical analysis of plant community transitions of Hebridean machair and blackland systems. Winter Meeting of the British Ecological Society. Session on Vegetation Analysis. University of Warwick 19th December 2001 (With C.L. Reid and R.J. Pakeman)

Kent, M. (2002) Maintaining, enhancing and recreating habitats: iv. The Management and Conservation of Machair Vegetation. Plant Conservation in Scotland. Botanical Society of Scotland Symposium. University of Edinburgh 10th-11th September 2002 (with T.C. Dargie and C. Reid).

Kent, M. (2003) The role of vegetation burial in the plant community ecology the machair sand dunes of the Outer Hebrides. Research Centre of Plant Ecology and Biodiversity Conservation, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China. 11th November 2003.

Kent, M. (2003) Making sense of the bewildering mass of green: Vegetation science, problems and prospects/Urban ecology – biogeographical patterns and processes. Lectures given during tour of China - East China Normal University (Shanghai), Zhejiang University (Hangzhou), Fudan University (Shanghai), Nanjing University (Nanjing), Shandong University (Jinan), Hebei University (Baoding)

Kent, M. (2004) Problems and Prospects in the Application of Multivariate Analysis in Biogeography. Keynote Address. Biogeography Research Group Meeting, Royal Geographical Society/Institute of British Geographers, University College Chester, 14th April 2004.

Kent, M. (2004) Tourism and water supply in Mallorca and the Mediterranean: future possible implications of climate change. Conference on Water Supply and Environmentally Sustainable Practices in Tourism, Department of Geography, Universitat de las Islas Baleares, Palma Mallorca, 21st April 2004.

Kent, M. (2004) Biogeographical/Ecological Processes and Sustainability in British and Chinese Cities. 30th Congress of the International Geographical Union, Royal Geographical Society and Institute of British Geographers. Glasgow, 20th August 2004. (With J. Sadler and L. Zhang).

Kent, M. (2004) Characterisation of transitional zones in semi-natural vegetation: A case study from Dartmoor, at RSPSoc 2004 Mapping and Resources Management, Annual Conference of the Remote Sensing and Photogrammetric Society, AECC (Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre), 7th -10th September 2004. (With R.P. Armitage and R.E. Weaver)
Kent, M. (2005) GIS and multivariate tools for the analysis of spatial rate of change and transitions in plant communities. Royal Geographical Society and Institute of British Geographers Conference, London, 2nd September 2005 (With R.Moyeed, C.L. Reid and R. Pakeman)
Kent, M. (2007) Grave predictions! - vegetation burial as a focus for biogeomorphology and geoecology. Department of Geography, University of the West of England, Bristol, 4th March 2007

Additional information

I am a very keen amateur violinist! I play in both the Plymouth University Orchestra and also in the Sherwell Chamber Ensemble, which accompanies the University of Plymouth Choir. I also greatly enjoy playing chamber music with friends. It provides an invaluable antedote to the pressures of academic life!