Institute of Evolution and Ecology (EvE)

Dr. Mark C. Bilton: Statistical consultant & trainer (Namibia)

In April 2018, I emigrated to Namibia to provide expertise with environmental and ecological statistics. I am hosted within the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences at NUST (Namibia University of Science and Technology), in the capital Windhoek, working alongside Prof. Morgan Hauptfleisch.


Working closely with Universities, Government dept’s, NGO’s, Environmental consultants, National Parks, Mines, Tourism agencies and Conservancies, I offer data collection advice and analyses, to create greater efficiency and scientific rigorousness to land management and social policy issues (e.g. fire management, bush encroachment, rehabilitation, climate change, and grazing).


Throughout the process, I am involving students and professionals in the knowledge and skill gaining process, with full training courses offered.

Latest Publication: Species selection under long-term experimental warming and drought explained by climatic distributions; New Phytologist (2018)

I have over 15 years’ experience in ecology and statistics. I was employed and educated as a plant ecologist, particularly interested in the adaptations and biodiversity that arises across different environments. With this strong foundation and belief in fundamental evolutionary trait based strategies, I am continuing to strive to find universal rules and patterns, which could aid in conservation management in the face of global issues such as climate change, grazing management, and invasion by non-native species.


In general, I have used a multi-skilled approach to tackle these major questions. Whether it be through standardized pot experiments, field monitoring, and a strong emphasis on simulation and statistical modelling. This has led me to gain a full appreciation of the biotic and abiotic variation that exists in the world in all aspects of the environment and ecology. I believe that good data analyses starts with establishing hypotheses, questions, then structuring and capturing the natural variation in rigorous experimental and observational study design. It is something I have always practiced, taught my students, and is something I aim to emphasise and promote in establishing greater efficiency and improved policy.

For eight years the main focus of my research in Tübingen was predicting the combined impacts of climate change and grazing intensity on plant communities. In particular this involved the analysis of species in the field and greenhouse, in relation to their response to long-term manipulation experiments in a wide range of habitats e.g. Israel; Jordan; Canada; Spain: Norway: UK.

Last employment in Tübingen

Sept 13 – Mar 18

Assistant Professor Plant Ecology Group, University of Tübingen, Germany (Katja Tielbörger)


Advanced Biometry; An introduction to R; Plant Ecology; EvE seminar; PhD, Masters & Bachelor thesis supervision


Plant Climatic Niche Group responses to global change (climate & grazing)


Dr. Leonor Álvarez-Cansino (University of Bayreuth); Dr. James F. Cahill (University of Alberta, Canada); Professor Josep. Peñuelas (CREAF, Universitat Autònom de Barcelona, Spain); Associate Professor Marcelo Sternberg (Tel Aviv University, Israel); Professor Mark Rees (University of Sheffield, UK),


Post-doctoral work experience

May 12 – Sept 13

DFG funded Post-Doc (awarded to Bilton)

Plant Ecology Group, Tübingen, Germany (Katja Teilbörger)

Animal & Plant Sciences Department, Sheffield, UK (Mark Rees)

“Role of seed dormancy in Eastern Mediterranean communities”

Dec 09 – May 12

BMBF funded Post-Doc

Plant Ecology Group, Tübingen, Germany (Katja Tielbörger)

“Climate Change in the Eastern Mediterranean (Israel and Jordan) (GLOWA)”

Nov 08 – Dec 09

Post-Doc Plant Ecology, Université de Picardie Jules Verne, Amiens, France (Guillaume Decocq)

“Ecological modelling of forest metacommunities (METAFOR)”

Higher Education

Awarded June 2008

PhD MDT funded studentship

supervised by Prof J.P.Grime (University of Sheffield); Dr Colin Birch & Prof Robin Pakeman (Macaulay Institute, Aberdeen); Dr Glenn Marion (BioSS, Edinburgh)

“Impacts of intraspecifc genetic diversity on plant species interactions & coexistence”

1998 - 2001

BSc (Hons) Natural Environmental Science Grade 2(i)

University of Sheffield, UK


Liu D., Peñuelas J., Ogaya R., Estiarte M., Tielbörger K., Slowik F., Yang X., Bilton M.C. (2017) Species selection under long-term experimental warming and drought explained by climatic distributions. New Phytologist.doi: 10.111/nph

Rodgers M., Bilton M.C., Hauptfleisch M. (2017) Responses and feedbacks of burrowing mammals under differently managed rangelands. Namibian Journal of Environment 1, 40-51.

García-Camacho R., Metz J., Bilton M.C., Tielbörger K. (2017) Phylogenetic structure of annual plant communities along an aridity gradient. Interacting effects of habitat filtering and shifting plant-plant interactions. . Israel Journal of Plant Sciences. doi: 10.1080/07929978.2017.1288477

Andresen L.C., Müller C., de Dato G., Dukes J.S., Emmett B.A., Estiarte M., Jentsch A., Kröel-Dulay G., Lüscher A., Niu S., Peñuelas J., Reich P., Reinsch S., Ogaya R., Schmidt I.K., Schneider M.K., Sternberg M., Tietema A., Zhu K., Bilton M.C. (2016) Shifting impacts of climate change: long-term patterns of plant response to elevated CO2, drought and warming across ecosystems. Advances in Ecological Research 55, doi: 10.1016/bs.aecr.2016.07.001

Bilton M.C., Metz J., Tielbörger K. (2016) Climatic niche groups: A novel application of a common assumption predicting plant community response to climate change. Perspect. Plant Ecol. Evol. Syst. doi:10.1016/j.ppees.2016.02.006

Tielbörger K, Bilton M.C., Metz J., Kigel J, Holzapfel C.. Lebrija-Trejos E., Konsens I., Parag H., Sternberg M. (2014) Middle-Eastern plant communities tolerate 9 years of drought in a multi-site climate manipulation experiment Nat Commun. 5(5102), doi: 10.1038/ncomms6102

Joshi S., Gruntman M., Bilton M.C., Seifan M., Tielbörger K. (2014) A comprehensive test of evolutionarily increased competitive ability in a highly invasive plant species. Ann. Bot. 114(8), 1761-1768

Whitlock R., Bilton M.C., Grime J.P., Burke T. (2011) Fine-scale community and genetic structure are tightly linked in species-rich grasslands. Phil. Trans R. Soc. B. 366(1569), 1346-1357

Bilton M.C., Whitlock R., Grime J.P., Marion G., Pakeman R.J. (2010) Intraspecific trait variation in grassland plant species reveals fine-scale strategy trade-offs and size differentiation that underpins performance in ecological communities. Botany 88(11): 939-952.

Bilton M.C. (2008) Impacts of intraspecific genetic diversity on plant species interactions and coexistence. Ph.D. thesis, University of Sheffield, Sheffield

Fridley J., Grime J.P., Bilton, M.C. (2007) Genetic identity of interspecific neighbours mediates plant responses to competition and environmental variation in a species rich grassland. Journal of Ecology 95(5): 908-915

Weekes R., Allnutt T., Boffey C., Morgan S., Bilton M.C., Daniels R., Henry C. (2007) A study of crop-to-crop gene flow using farm scale sites of fodder maize (Zea mays L.) in the UK.

Weekes R., Allnutt T., Boffey C., Morgan S., Bilton M.C., Daniels R., Henry C. (2005) Crop-to-crop gene flow using farm scale sites of oilseed rape (Brassica napus) in the UK. Transgenic Research 14(5): 749-759