Area of Expertise:

The AFBI Biodiversity Unit specialises in the delivery of field-based environmental, ecological and wildlife research and monitoring for a wide range of clients including government, commercial and NGO’s.

Biodiversity research and monitoring

The Biodiversity Unit has been responsible for monitoring the effectiveness of agri-environment schemes in Northern Ireland over the past 20 years. Particular expertise is available for landscape and field-scale biodiversity monitoring. Botanical monitoring and habitat mapping can be undertaken at various levels including Phase I and National Vegetation Classification (NVC).

Vegetation monitoring
Vegetation monitoring

In our work, we integrate survey design, sampling strategies, field/desktop GIS and statistic analyses to deliver high-quality projects.  Our team also conducts applied and conservation relevant wildlife research studies with particular expertise in mammals that has recently included pine marten, badgers, and Irish hares. We carry out a wide range of environmental and ecological research that provides input into relevant policies in Northern Ireland and further afield.


A number of research and monitoring projects have been recently completed:

  • Monitoring of Agri-Environment Indicators within the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme 2007-2013
  • Development of agri-environment and forestry measures which meet DAERA’s future Rural Development objectives
  • Badger-cattle interactions in the rural environment - implications for Bovine Tuberculosis transmission
  • Development of beef and sheep systems for improved sustainability, biodiversity and delivery of ecosystem services within hill areas of NI

Selected references

Flexen, M., O'Mahony, D., McAdam, J.H. (2013). Monitoring of farmland biodiversity indicators in Northern Ireland. Aspects of Applied Biology 118: 41-46.

Flexen, M., O'Mahony, D., McAdam, J.H. (2013). Habitat Monitoring of the Countryside Management Scheme 2002-2012. Report to Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Northern Ireland.

Flexen, M., O'Mahony, D., McAdam, J.H. (2013). Monitoring of Agri-Environment Additional Indicators within the NIRDP 2007-2013. Report to Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Northern Ireland.

McEvoy, P. M., Flexen, M., McAdam, J. H. (2006). The effects of livestock grazing on ground flora in broadleaf woodlands in Northern Ireland. Forest Ecology and Management 225, 39-50.

McEvoy, P. M., Flexen, M., McAdam, J. H. (2007). The Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) Scheme in Northern Ireland: Ten years of agri-environment monitoring. Biology and Environment: Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 106B, 1-11.

O'Mahony, D.T., 2014. Use of water troughs by badgers and cattle. The Veterinary Journal 202, 628-629.

O'Mahony, D.T., 2015. Multi-species visit rates to farmyards: Implications for biosecurity. The Veterinary Journal 203, 126-128.

O’Mahony, D.T., Turner, P., O’Reilly, C., 2015. Pine marten (Martes martes) abundance in an insular mountainous region using non-invasive techniques. European Journal of Wildlife Research 61, 103-110.

O’Mahony, D.T., 2015. Badger (Meles meles) contact metrics in a medium-density population. Mammalian Biology - Zeitschrift für Säugetierkunde 80, 484-490.

O'Meara, D.B., Sheehy, E., Turner, P.D., O'Mahony, D., Harrington, A.P., Denman, H., Lawton, C., MacPherson, J., O'Reilly, C., 2014. Non-invasive multi-species monitoring: real-time PCR detection of small mammal and squirrel prey DNA in pine marten (Martes martes) scats. Acta Theriologica 59, 111-117.

Reynolds, J.C., O'Mahony, D., Aebischer, N.J., 2006. Implications of 'cyclical' population dynamics for the conservation of Irish hares (Lepus timidus hibernicus). Journal of Zoology 270, 408-413.