Meet the team

We are a group of dedicated experts working together towards a common goal to equally support development and the conservation of wildlife. If you would like to learn more about us or if you are interested in joining our team, we would love to hear from you.

Image of Paul Whitby

Paul Whitby

Managing Director/Principal Ecologist

Paul is a Chartered Ecologist with fourteen years experience working as an ecologist and environmental consultant. His career began in Cheshire working on a number of large projects including gas pipelines, waste recovery centres, Liquid Natural Gas installations and other commercial developments. After a short spell working back in his home town of Petworth, Paul set up Azure Ecology in 2009, a small independent ecological consultancy working with a network of sub-contractors across south east England.

Paul founded The Ecology Co-operation in March 2014 to replace Azure Ecology and accomodate the expanding team of ecologists. Paul has working experience with a wide variety of British terrestrial wildlife and has managed projects of all sizes including writing Ecological Impact Assessments (EcIA), working as an expert witness at planning enquiries and completing 23 Farm Environment Plans as part of Higher level Stewardship applications across seven different counties. He has survey licenses for bats, dormice and great crested newts and has held a number of European Protected Species licenses.

Aside from ecology, Paul’s interests include Rugby, vegetable gardening, free diving and pretending to be good at DIY.


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Dan Bennett

Principal Ecologist

Dan joined the Team in April 2017 and has over 20 years’ practical experience working in the ecology profession, starting in the public sector in 1996 as an aquatic biologist and later, as a conservation officer for the Environment Agency. After a year working on conservation projects abroad, Dan worked in the ecology team for Jacobs UK Ltd for ten years, focussing on Environmental Impact Assessments, mitigation design and execution, and delivering protected species licenses for a variety of large infrastructure projects (highways, pipelines, reservoirs and managed realignment schemes) across the UK. Dan holds survey licenses for bats, dormice, great crested newt and white-clawed crayfish. His strengths lie in the field, surveying for the above species, birds (including wetland, wintering and breeding birds), a variety of invertebrates, and providing succinct reports and practical solutions to mitigation issues.


Outside of work, Dan has enjoyed travelling abroad to find exotic wildlife and volunteering for a variety of wildlife organisations. More recently, staying closer to home, growing veggies and pond dipping in the garden with his young family.


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Xenia Snowman

Associate Principal Ecologist

Xenia joined the team in April 2019. She has thirteen years experience advising on protected species within professional ecological organisations, with a further two years volunteering for charities and and research institutions, including in Australia, Kenya, Uganda, Costa Rica, Honduras and Borneo, as well as within the UK. She started her ecology career at The Bat Conservation Trust where she worked for four years and went on to work as a freelance Ecologist and for a number of consultancies, from small to national multidisciplinary companies.

Xenia has a particular passion for bats, dormice, badgers, otters and other mammals and holds her Natural England Class 2 Bat Survey Licence, while training towards her Bat Class 3 and 4 Bat Licenses. She has undertaken a combination of mist-netting, harp trapping, radio-tracking and hibernation and swarming surveys of structures and underground cave and mine systems in Surrey, Sussex, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, on the Isle of Wight and in Costa Rica and Honduras. Xenia specialises in advising on and designing bat surveys and mitigation schemes for licenses, implementation and undertaking post-project monitoring. Xenia is soon to gain her Class 1 Hazel Dormouse Survey Licence and is furthering her training in badger survey methodology, mitigation and licensing.

She is certified as an aerial tree climber (PTC CS38), has experience of IRATA climbs of structures, holds her Personal Track Safety Sentinel card for railway work in AC and DC areas, ROLO, CITB and is inducted for Network Rail and East West Rail work. Xenia is Emergency First Aid trained and one of our Mental Health First Aiders. Xenia is experienced in facilitating clients in making informed decisions, including in order to obtain planning consent, whilst managing any issues relating to biodiversity. She is competent in managing multiple projects of varying sizes including housing development schemes, retirement home complexes, school re-development schemes, monument restoration including of Grade I and Grade II Listed Buildings, churches and bridges, woodland management and tree works, including for tree felling licences. Xenia is also competent at managing teams of staff and sub‐contractors, designing surveys and mitigation schemes for multiple protected species and has regular involvement with statutory authorities, stakeholders, charities and research institutions in both a professional and volunteer capacity.

In her spare time, Xenia enjoys attempting to grow veg, eating aforementioned veg, camping, travelling and exploring in her campervan. 


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Kate Priestman

External Consultant and Proof-Editor

After previously supporting the Ecology Co-op on a freelance basis, undertaking report reviews, Kate joined the team part-time in May 2021.

Kate is a Chartered Environmentalist and full member of CIEEM. She has twenty years experience in consultancy, working for multinational companies at a senior level, on large, complex, public-realm schemes; she has provided the lead ecology role across a broad range of sectors and is experienced in a wide range of deliverables. Kate’s strengths lie in the reporting side of ecology work, supporting the team with report reviews and impact assessments (Ecological Impact Assessment and Habitats Regulations Assessment), amongst other reporting deliverables.

Outside of ecology, Kate spends her time writing, and drawing wildlife and pet portraits. She also enjoys regular hikes around Derbyshire, the Lake District and Wales


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Dr Ryan Walker

Associate Principal Ecologist

Ryan gained his PhD in the study of reptiles in Madagascar and has over thirteen years experience working within the commercial ecological management and mitigation field and within the NGO biodiversity conservation sector. His experience extends from consultancy work in the UK to a range of projects internationally across several countries.


Ryan’s strength is in field-based biological surveying . He holds European Protected Species Licenses for bats, dormice and great crested newts and is a Chartered Environmentalist through the Society of the Environment. Ryan’s experience and range of survey skills makes him a highly valued lead surveyor at the Ecology Co-operation.

In his spare time Ryan enjoys hiking, scuba diving and entertaining the worlds most energetic terrier called ‘Otto’.


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Owen Crawshaw

Senior Ecologist

Owen joined the Ecology Co-op in 2019 having previously worked as an Ecologist in South Oxfordshire for five years. He graduated from the University of Bristol in 2014 with a BSc (Hons) degree in Zoology.

Owen is a Full member of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management with a Level 2 bat survey licence, Level 1 great crested newt survey licence and barn owl survey licence. He specialises in bird surveying having undertaken wintering bird surveys, breeding bird surveys, wetland bird counts and species-specific surveys, including surveys for: barn owl, peregrine, black redstart, nightingale, little ringed-plover and skylark. Other relevant ecological experience includes undertaking Preliminary Ecological Appraisals, production of European Protected Species Licences and completing tree climbing surveys for roosting bats.

Owen is an avid birdwatcher and photographer and to date has recorded over 850 species globally. He is a keen cricketer and scuba diver, having achieved the highest certification in recreational diving: Master Scuba Diver.


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Sam Lunn

Senior Ecologist

Sam is an established member of the Ecology Co-operation Team, having started with us in April 2013. After completing his Masters at Newcastle University, Sam spent two years in South Africa as a Field guide and Ranger dealing with wildlife and habitat management, guided walks and running volunteer projects. Since joining the Ecology Co-operation Sam has become an Associate member of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management and gained practical experience of great crested newt, badger, water vole, bat and Phase 1 habitat surveys. Sam has attained his level 1 great crested newt license and level 2 bat license, whilst he is also working towards also obtaining his dormouse license.

Sam’s role at the Ecology Co-op includes the management of a number of projects with a variety of Phase 1 and Phase 2 survey elements, including large residential development sites.

Away from work Sam plays rugby for Horsham RUFC, enjoys skiing, wakeboarding and the emotional rollercoaster that comes with being a Fulham FC supporter.


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Emma Baker

Senior Ecologist

Emma joined The Ecology Co-op full-time in March 2018 after a placement with the company as part of her MSc in Corporate Environmental Management in 2017. Emma is now our main point of contact for our Devon office.


Since then, Emma has worked on a range of projects including residential and commercial developments covering retrospective applications, mitigation and enhancement schemes, EcIAs, biodiversity net gain calculations and Habitats Regulations Assessment screenings. She also has experience in Phase 1 Habitat Surveys, Preliminary Ecological Appraisals, translocations and ECoW, as well as Phase 2 surveys for bats, dormice and reptiles. She is an Associate member of CIEEM, and obtained her Great Crested Newt survey licence in 2019, having gained experience across three survey seasons.


Outside of work, Emma enjoys baking, exploring the River Exe, and caring for too many houseplants.


(Emma is currently on maternity leave until November 2023)



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Lynn Spencer

Senior Ecologist

Lynn joined the team in April 2021. She has eight years experience working as an ecologist for several multidiscplinary consultancies. Lynn is an Associate member of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management and holds survey licences for bats and great crested newts.

Outside of work Lynn plays the banjo and can be found at blugrass jams and gigs around the country.


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Rozel Hopkins

Consultant Ecologist

Rozel joined the Ecology Co-op in January 2021 after graduating from an MSci Zoology degree at the University of Southampton and completing a survey season with another ecological consultancy. She became interested in bats during her master’s dissertation, investigating how bats behave towards a new type of proposed ‘bat-friendly’ streetlight. Through her work, this batty interest has expanded to reptiles, newts, birds and all other UK wildlife.

Rozel is experienced in carrying out Preliminary Ecological Appraisals and a number of Phase 2 ecology surveys as well as having experience producing Biodiversity Impact Calculations for proposals that need to demonstrate biodiversity net gain. She is a Qualifying member of CIEEM, has recently attained a Level 1 bat licence and a level 1 great crested newt survey licence and is also certified as an aerial tree climber to assist with tree surveys for roosting bats.

Outside of work, Rozel’s interests include swimming, netball, travelling and baking.


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Rebecca Carter-Whitehead

Consultant Ecologist

Rebecca joined The Ecology Co-Op in March 2023 after working in the industry for 6 years. Her work has included a range of protected species surveys in various projects, from onshore windfarm cable routes to housing developments and lots in between. She holds survey licences for dormice and great crested newts. Rebecca has also worked in Zimbabwe researching captive-bred lions undergoing a soft release into the wild programme, loggerhead turtles during the breeding season in Greece, and more recently has been researching bats in the deserts of Saudi Arabia.

Outside of work, Rebecca practices Historical European Martial Arts including backsword, longsword and sabre, when she isn’t buried deep in her workshop making replica props and costumes (among actually useful things on occasion).


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Patrick Kitchener

Consultant Ecologist

Patrick joined the Ecology Co-op in April 2021. He graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Zoology and a MRes in Biological Science from the University of Exeter in 2016. Before joining the company Patrick has worked as a Biodiversity and Fisheries officer for the Environment Agency and as an Adviser for Natural England, where he has developed an interest in UK ecology.


Patrick is a qualifying member of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management and has experience in assisting with bat, reptile and great crested newt surveys, having previously worked as a seasonal ecological assistant. He also holds certificates to use chainsaws, brushcutters and strimmers and has experience in practical countryside management.


Outside of work, Patrick enjoys travelling, hiking, surfing and football.


Image of James Whitby

James Whitby

Consultant Ecologist

James joined the Ecology Co-op in April 2021. He graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Applied Zoology from the University of Plymouth in 2016. Before joining the company, James had completed various work experience placements, but had spent the last 4 years working in construction and spending his time traveling.

James is now a qualifying member of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management and has experience assisting with bat, reptile and great crested newt surveys, and currently holds a level 1 great crested newt licence. James has since signed on to the apprenticeship scheme through Eden Project Learning and is now studying a MSc in Land and Ecological Restoration.

Outside of work, James enjoys wildlife photography, playing rugby (when he can be bothered), scuba diving and traveling.


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Josh Harwood

Consultant Ecologist

Josh joined The Ecology Co-op in October 2022 having previously worked at another consultancy. After completing his Batchelor’s in Zoology at Bangor University he spent 6 months radio tracking spitting cobras in northern Thailand, recording environmental data and completing snake rescues.

Josh has a level 1 great crested newt license and is currently working towards his rare reptile license.

Outside of work Josh plays rugby for Shoreham RFC and enjoys finding and photographing reptiles and amphibians whilst travelling abroad.


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Rebecca Mortensen

Assistant Ecologist

Rebecca joined Ecology Co-op as an Assistant Ecologist in April 2021, after working as a Ranger for the Aspinall Foundation. She also worked part time as a subcontracted ecological field surveyor for us and other consultancies.  She completed her MSc in Conservation and the International Wildlife Trade in 2017, from the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE) at the University of Kent.  Previous to this, she spent 6 years in the Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa working as a Field Guide/ Ranger.

Rebecca is experienced in carrying out surveys for residential and commercial developments including assisting with Preliminary Ecological Assessments and aquatic invertebrate surveys, conducting bat emergence surveys, reptile surveys, and badger set monitoring.  She also has experience authoring reports in various formats.  Rebecca enjoys exploring every area of ecology but hopes to work towards gaining her bat and dormouse licences in the future.

Outside of work, Rebecca enjoys swimming, especially in the sea and preferably when it’s warm, running, hiking and attempting yoga.


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Holly Waters

Consultant Ecologist

After completing her MSc in Conservation and Biodiversity, Holly joined The Ecology Co-op as an Assistant Ecologist and has recently been promoted to Consultant. Holly is experienced in undertaking bat scoping and emergence surveys, reptile surveys, and now holds a level 1 bat licence, and a level 1 great crested newt licence.

As well as pursuing a career in the Ecology sector Holly enjoys a range of sports, such as touch rugby, and crafting.



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Julian Browning

Assistant Ecologist

Julian joined The Ecology Co-op as an Assistant Ecologist in September 2022, after completing an MSc in Environmental Resource Management at Imperial College. Julian is interested in all areas of ecology, and has experience assisting with bat, reptile, and dormouse surveys.

Outside of work, Julian enjoys running, and even completed his first marathon this summer!


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Ben Small

Assistant Ecologist

Ben joined the Ecology Co-op as an Assistant Ecologist in October 2022, swapping working with domestic animals in a pet shop to working with wild ones instead! Prior to this he obtained an MSc in Evolutionary and Behavioural Ecology at the University of Exeter and has conducted research around the world including Kenya, Guyana and Honduras. Having obtained experience assisting on bat emergence surveys as a subcontractor for the company across the summer period, he is now working to gain experience in a range of other survey types including breeding bird, reptile and great-crested newt.

Outside of work you can find Ben travelling, playing several sports including badminton and dodgeball, or rocking out to his varied taste in music.


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Nik Neale

Assistant Ecologist

Nik joined the Ecology Co-op as an Assistant Ecologist in March 2023, after completing a BSc in Zoology with Herpetology and sub-contracting with the team. He has experience of surveying bats, hazel dormice, badgers, great crested newts, and reptiles. He has worked on reptile and amphibian translocation projects, and a large roadside scheme with a variety of stakeholders and sub-contractors involved.

Nik has a particular interest in the group Gekkota, and different species spectacular abilities including, climbing smooth surfaces, gliding through the air, and seamlessly blending into their environments! He has a progressing fascination for mycology and entomology, and the roles that these groups of organisms play in their environments.

Outside of the ecological sphere, Nik enjoys running, walking the pack, playing board games, and cooking… especially pizza!


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Katy Pavey

Accounts Manager

Katy has worked at the Ecology Co-op since 2018 managing the company accounts and working on budgets. She keeps our clients on their toes with invoice payments and keeps our expenses in check. She operates alongside Jaycee in acting as a general office manager and keeping everything ticking over smoothly.

Away from work Katy has two adorable children and a pet husband called Stuart. She enjoys going camping, particularly around the New Forest and as you can see, she has some great surfing skills on dry land!