Dr Alex Dumbrell

Senior Lecturer
School of Biological Sciences
Dr Alex Dumbrell
  • Email

  • Telephone

    +44 (0) 1206 872539

  • Location

    3SW.4.18, Colchester Campus



2016 - - Senior Lecturer (University of Essex) 2010 - 2016 - Lecturer (University of Essex) 2009 - 2010 - Visiting Research Fellow (Radboud University Nijmegen) 2007 - 2009 - Postdoctoral Research Fellow (University of York) 2002 - 2006 - Ph.D. (University of York) 2001 - 2002 - M.Sc. (University of Wales, Bangor) 1998 - 2001 - B.Sc. hons (University of Wales, Bangor) See: for details.

Research and professional activities

Research interests

Community ecology (focus on microbial systems)

Theoretical ecology (focus on models of biodiversity)

Molecular ecology (focus on next generation sequencing)

Macroecology (focus on examining patterns of biodiversity in microbial systems)

Spatial and temporal patterns of biodiversity

Biodiversity-Ecosystem service/function relationships

Species abundance distributions and species area relationships

Biodiversity models (ie niche and neutral theories)

Next generation sequencing technology and bioinformatics in ecological research

Metagenetics, metagenomics, metatranscriptomics


Soil biodiversity and function

Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and other symbiotic systems


Journal articles (42)

Clark, DR., Ferguson, RMW., Harris, DN., Matthews Nicholass, KJ., Prentice, HJ., Randall, KC., Randell, L., Warren, SL. and Dumbrell, AJ., (2018). Streams of data from drops of water: 21st century molecular microbial ecology. WIREs Water. 5 (4), e1280-e1280

Mommer, L., Cotton, TEA., Raaijmakers, JM., Termorshuizen, AJ., van Ruijven, J., Hendriks, M., van Rijssel, SQ., van de Mortel, JE., van der Paauw, JW., Schijlen, EGWM., Smit-Tiekstra, AE., Berendse, F., de Kroon, H. and Dumbrell, AJ., (2018). Lost in diversity: the interactions between soil-borne fungi, biodiversity and plant productivity. New Phytologist. 218 (2), 542-553

Garcia-Alcega, S., Nasir, ZA., Ferguson, R., Noël, C., Cravo-Laureau, C., Whitby, C., Dumbrell, AJ., Colbeck, I., Tyrrel, S. and Coulon, F., (2018). Can chemical and molecular biomarkers help discriminate between industrial, rural and urban environments?. Science of the Total Environment. 631–632, 1059-1069

Bohan, DA., Vacher, C., Tamaddoni-Nezhad, A., Raybould, A., Dumbrell, AJ. and Woodward, G., (2017). Next-Generation Global Biomonitoring: Large-scale, Automated Reconstruction of Ecological Networks. Trends in Ecology & Evolution. 32 (7), 477-487

Garcia-Alcega, S., Nasir, ZA., Ferguson, R., Whitby, C., Dumbrell, AJ., Colbeck, I., Gomes, D., Tyrrel, S. and Coulon, F., (2017). Fingerprinting outdoor air environment using microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCs) – A review. TrAC - Trends in Analytical Chemistry. 86, 75-83

Terrisse, F., Cravo-Laureau, C., Noël, C., Cagnon, C., Dumbrell, AJ., McGenity, TJ. and Duran, R., (2017). Variation of oxygenation conditions on a hydrocarbonoclastic microbial community reveals Alcanivorax and Cycloclasticus ecotypes. Frontiers in Microbiology. 8 (AUG), 1549-

Clark, DR., Mathieu, M., Mourot, L., Underwood, GJC., Dufossé, L., Dumbrell, AJ. and McGenity, TJ., (2017). Biogeography at the limits of life: Do extremophilic microbial communities show biogeographical regionalization?. Global Ecology and Biogeography. 26 (12), 1435-1446

Osburn, CL., Anderson, NJ., Stedmon, CA., Giles, ME., Whiteford, EJ., McGenity, TJ., Dumbrell, AJ. and Underwood, GJC., (2017). Shifts in the Source and Composition of Dissolved Organic Matter in Southwest Greenland Lakes Along a Regional Hydro-climatic Gradient. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences. 122 (12), 3431-3445

Dumbrell, ALEXJ., Ferguson, RMW. and Clark, DR., (2017). Microbial Community Analysis by Single-Amplicon High-Throughput Next Generation Sequencing: Data Analysis – From Raw Output to Ecology. Hydrocarbon and Lipid Microbiology Protocols. Microbial Quantitation, Community Profiling and Array Approaches, 155-206

Lohr, KE., Smith, DJ., Suggett, DJ., Nitschke, MR., Dumbrell, AJ., Woodcock, S. and Camp, EF., (2017). Coral community structure and recruitment in seagrass meadows. Frontiers in Marine Science. 4 (NOV)

Camp, EF., Hobbs, JPA., De Brauwer, M., Dumbrell, AJ. and Smith, DJ., (2016). Cohabitation promotes high diversity of clownfishes in the Coral Triangle. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 283 (1827), 20160277-20160277

Low-Décarie, E., Fussmann, GF., Dumbrell, AJ. and Bell, G., (2016). Communities that thrive in extreme conditions captured from a freshwater lake. Biology Letters. 12 (9), 20160562-20160562

Aslam, SN., Dumbrell, AJ., Sabir, JS., Mutwakil, MHZ., Baeshen, MMN., Abo-Aba, SEM., Clark, DR., Yates, SA., Baeshen, NA., Underwood, GJC. and McGenity, TJ., (2016). Soil compartment is a major determinant of the impact of simulated rainfall on desert microbiota. Environmental Microbiology. 18 (12), 5048-5062

Lansdown, K., McKew, BA., Whitby, C., Heppell, CM., Dumbrell, AJ., Binley, A., Olde, L. and Trimmer, M., (2016). Importance and controls of anaerobic ammonium oxidation influenced by riverbed geology. Nature Geoscience. 9 (5), 357-360

Thompson, MSA., Bankier, C., Bell, T., Dumbrell, AJ., Gray, C., Ledger, ME., Lehmann, K., McKew, BA., Sayer, CD., Shelley, F., Trimmer, M., Warren, SL. and Woodward, G., (2016). Gene-to-ecosystem impacts of a catastrophic pesticide spill: testing a multilevel bioassessment approach in a river ecosystem. Freshwater Biology. 61 (12), 2037-2050


Fayle, TM., Scholtz, O., Dumbrell, AJ., Russell, S., Segar, ST. and Eggleton, P., (2015). Detection of Mitochondrial COII DNA Sequences in Ant Guts as a Method for Assessing Termite Predation by Ants. PLOS ONE. 10 (4), e0122533-e0122533

Cotton, TEA., Fitter, AH., Miller, RM., Dumbrell, AJ. and Helgason, T., (2015). Fungi in the future: interannual variation and effects of atmospheric change on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal communities. New Phytologist. 205 (4), 1598-1607

Li, J., Nedwell, DB., Beddow, J., Dumbrell, AJ., McKew, BA., Thorpe, EL. and Whitby, C., (2015). amoA Gene Abundances and Nitrification Potential Rates Suggest that Benthic Ammonia-Oxidizing Bacteria and Not Archaea Dominate N Cycling in the Colne Estuary, United Kingdom. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 81 (1), 159-165

Low-Décarie, E., Kolber, M., Homme, P., Lofano, A., Dumbrell, A., Gonzalez, A. and Bell, G., (2015). Community rescue in experimental metacommunities. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 112 (46), 14307-14312

Papaspyrou, S., Smith, CJ., Dong, LF., Whitby, C., Dumbrell, AJ. and Nedwell, DB., (2014). Nitrate Reduction Functional Genes and Nitrate Reduction Potentials Persist in Deeper Estuarine Sediments. Why?. PLoS ONE. 9 (4), e94111-e94111

Cotton, TEA., Dumbrell, AJ. and Helgason, T., (2014). What Goes in Must Come out: Testing for Biases in Molecular Analysis of Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungal Communities. PLoS ONE. 9 (10), e109234-e109234

Šibanc, N., Dumbrell, AJ., Mandić-Mulec, I. and Maček, I., (2014). Impacts of naturally elevated soil CO2 concentrations on communities of soil archaea and bacteria. Soil Biology and Biochemistry. 68, 348-356

Woodward, G., Dumbrell, AJ., Baird, DJ. and Hajibabaei, M., (2014). ADVANCES IN ECOLOGICAL RESEARCH Big Data in Ecology PREFACE. ADVANCES IN ECOLOGICAL RESEARCH, VOL 51: BIG DATA IN ECOLOGY. 51, IX-XIII

Talmy, D., Blackford, J., Hardman-Mountford, NJ., Dumbrell, AJ. and Geider, RJ., (2013). An optimality model of photoadaptation in contrasting aquatic light regimes. Limnology and Oceanography. 58 (5), 1802-1818

Codling, EA. and Dumbrell, AJ., (2013). Bridging the gap between theory and data in ecological models. Ecological Complexity. 16, 1-8

Lewis, HM. and Dumbrell, AJ., (2013). Evolutionary games of cooperation: Insights through integration of theory and data. Ecological Complexity. 16, 20-30

McKew, BA., Dumbrell, AJ., Taylor, JD., McGenity, TJ. and Underwood, GJ., (2013). Differences between aerobic and anaerobic degradation of microphytobenthic biofilm-derived organic matter within intertidal sediments. FEMS Microbiology Ecology. 84 (3), 495-509

McKew, BA., Dumbrell, AJ., Daud, SD., Hepburn, L., Thorpe, E., Mogensen, L. and Whitby, C., (2012). Characterization of Geographically Distinct Bacterial Communities Associated with Coral Mucus Produced by Acropora spp. and Porites spp.. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 78 (15), 5229-5237

Fayle, TM., Edwards, DP., Turner, EC., Dumbrell, AJ., Eggleton, P. and Foster, WA., (2012). Public goods, public services and by-product mutualism in an ant-fern symbiosis. Oikos. 121 (8), 1279-1286

Codling, EA. and Dumbrell, AJ., (2012). Mathematical and theoretical ecology: linking models with ecological processes. Interface Focus. 2 (2), 144-149

Maček, I., Dumbrell, AJ., Nelson, M., Fitter, AH., Vodnik, D. and Helgason, T., (2011). Local Adaptation to Soil Hypoxia Determines the Structure of an Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungal Community in Roots from Natural CO 2 Springs. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 77 (14), 4770-4777

Dumbrell, AJ., Ashton, PD., Aziz, N., Feng, G., Nelson, M., Dytham, C., Fitter, AH. and Helgason, T., (2011). Distinct seasonal assemblages of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi revealed by massively parallel pyrosequencing. New Phytologist. 190 (3), 794-804

Fayle, TM., Dumbrell, AJ., Turner, EC. and Foster, WA., (2011). Distributional Patterns of Epiphytic Ferns are Explained by the Presence of Cryptic Species. Biotropica. 43 (1), 6-7

Mommer, L., Dumbrell, AJ., Wagemaker, CAM. and Ouborg, NJ., (2011). Belowground DNA-based techniques: untangling the network of plant root interactions. Plant and Soil. 348 (1-2), 115-121

Dumbrell, AJ., Nelson, M., Helgason, T., Dytham, C. and Fitter, AH., (2010). Erratum: Relative roles of niche and neutral processes in structuring a soil microbial community. The ISME Journal. 4 (8), 1078-1078

Dumbrell, AJ., Nelson, M., Helgason, T., Dytham, C. and Fitter, AH., (2010). Idiosyncrasy and overdominance in the structure of natural communities of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi: is there a role for stochastic processes?. Journal of Ecology. 98 (2), 419-428

Dumbrell, AJ., Nelson, M., Helgason, T., Dytham, C. and Fitter, AH., (2010). Relative roles of niche and neutral processes in structuring a soil microbial community. The ISME Journal. 4 (3), 337-345

Fayle, TM., Chung, AYC., Dumbrell, AJ., Eggleton, P. and Foster, WA., (2009). The Effect of Rain Forest Canopy Architecture on the Distribution of Epiphytic Ferns ( Asplenium spp.) in Sabah, Malaysia. Biotropica. 41 (6), 676-681

Dumbrell, AJ., Clark, EJ., Frost, GA., Randell, TE., Pitchford, JW. and Hill, JK., (2008). Changes in species diversity following habitat disturbance are dependent on spatial scale: theoretical and empirical evidence. Journal of Applied Ecology. 45 (5), 1531-1539

Wüster, W., Dumbrell, AJ., Hay, C., Pook, CE., Williams, DJ. and Fry, BG., (2005). Snakes across the Strait: trans-Torresian phylogeographic relationships in three genera of Australasian snakes (Serpentes: Elapidae: Acanthophis, Oxyuranus, and Pseudechis). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 34 (1), 1-14

Dumbrell, AJ. and Hill, JK., (2005). Impacts of selective logging on canopy and ground assemblages of tropical forest butterflies: Implications for sampling. Biological Conservation. 125 (1), 123-131

Books (4)

Dumbrell, AJ., Woodward, G., Jackson, MC. and Bohan, DA., (2018). Preface

Dumbrell, AJ., Kordas, RL. and Woodward, G., (2016). Preface

Woodward, G., Dumbrell, AJ., Baird, DJ. and Hajibabaei, M., (2014). Preface

Woodward, G., Dumbrell, AJ., Baird, DJ. and Hajibabaei, M., (2014). Big Data in Ecology. Elsevier. 978-0-08-099970-8

Book chapters (7)

Derocles, SAP., Bohan, DA., Dumbrell, AJ., Kitson, JJN., Massol, F., Pauvert, C., Plantegenest, M., Vacher, C. and Evans, DM., (2018). Biomonitoring for the 21st Century: Integrating Next-Generation Sequencing Into Ecological Network Analysis. In: Networks of Invasion: Empirical Evidence and Case Studies. Editors: Bohan, DA., Dumbrell, AJ. and Massol, F., . Academic Press. 1- 62. 978-0-12-813328-6

Redeker, KR., Cai, LL., Dumbrell, AJ., Bardill, A., Chong, JPJ. and Helgason, T., (2018). Noninvasive Analysis of the Soil Microbiome: Biomonitoring Strategies Using the Volatilome, Community Analysis, and Environmental Data. In: Advances in Ecological Research. Academic Press

Nedwell, DB., Underwood, GJC., McGenity, TJ., Whitby, C. and Dumbrell, AJ., (2016). The Colne Estuary: A Long-Term Microbial Ecology Observatory. In: Advances in Ecological Research. 227- 281. 978-0-08-100935-2

Jackson, MC., Weyl, OLF., Altermatt, F., Durance, I., Friberg, N., Dumbrell, AJ., Piggott, JJ., Tiegs, SD., Tockner, K., Krug, CB., Leadley, PW. and Woodward, G., (2016). Recommendations for the Next Generation of Global Freshwater Biological Monitoring Tools. In: Advances in Ecological Research. 615- 636. 978-0-08-100935-2

Maček, I., Vodnik, D., Pfanz, H., Low-Décarie, E. and Dumbrell, AJ., (2016). Locally Extreme Environments as Natural Long-Term Experiments in Ecology. In: Advances in Ecological Research. 283- 323. 978-0-08-100935-2

Woodward, G., Dumbrell, AJ., Baird, DJ. and Hajibabaei, M., (2014). Preface - Big Data in Ecology. In: Big Data in Ecology. Editors: Woodward, G., Dumbrell, AJ., Baird, DJ. and Hajibabaei, M., . Elsevier. ix- xiii. 978-0-08-099970-8

Dumbrell, AJ., (2013). Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi throughout the Year: Using Massively Parallel Pyrosequencing to Quantify Spatiotemporal Seasonal Dynamics. In: Molecular Microbial Ecology of the Rhizosphere. 1113- 1122. 9781118296172

Grants and funding


A Novel Framework for Predicting Emerging Chemical Stressor Impacts in Complex Ecosystems

Natural Environment Research Council


Rapid monitoring of bioaerosols in Urban, Agricultural and Industrial Environments

Natural Environment Research Council

Integrating Next Generation Sequencing Technologies into Food Web Ecology

Imperial College, London

Impacts of Global warming in sentinel systems: from genes to ecosystems

Natural Environment Research Council

Diversity and community composition of AMF in selected secondary succession areas in Balkan Peninsula

University of Ljubljana

Response of plant roots and mycorrhizal fungi to soil hypoxia

University of Ljubljana


Coral Reefs of New Providence Island, Bahamas

Blackstone Consultancy Ltd


Do realignment sites restore microbial biodiversity-driven nutrient cycling and trace gas fluxes comparable to natural coastal ecosystems?

Natural Environment Research Council

Quantifying Ecosystem Resilience

Natural Environment Research Council


A hierarchical approach to the examination of the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem

Natural Environment Research Council

Suppression and Promotion of Clover Species through Plant-Species Specific Biotic Soil Legacies

University of Wageningen

The key role of DOM in regulating microbial diversity, community structure and

Natural Environment Research Council


Understanding Mathematical Models in Ecology

British Ecological Society (BES)

Visiting Scientist Grant - University of Wageningen

University of Wageningen

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3SW.4.18, Colchester Campus