Prof Davy McCracken

Professor of Agricultural Ecology and Head of Hill & Mountain Research Centre
Future Farming Systems
Hill & Mountain Research Centre

Research interests

After completing my PhD on the feeding ecology of the red-billed chough in 1990, I first worked on an investigation into the relationships between moorland vegetation and upland invertebrates at the University of Newcastle. 

I then moved to the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) where I helped highlight the nature conservation importance of High Nature Value (HNV) farming systems throughout Europe.

I joined SRUC in 1995 and input to a wide variety of projects which aim not only to assess the relationships between UK and European farming systems and farmland biodiversity but to also highlight the likely implications of agri-environment and wider Common Agricultural Policy reform.

I took on the role of Head of SRUC’s Hill & Mountain Research Centre in 2013. Much of the Centre’s research is focused around SRUC’s Kirkton & Auchtertyre Research farms, near Crianlarich, which we are developing to be a platform for agricultural, environmental and agro-forestry research and demonstration.

I work closely with the Scottish Chough Study Group and colleagues at Aberdeen University and Glasgow University studying the conservation needs of the red-billed chough on the Hebridean island of Islay.

At a wider European level, I have been involved with the European Forum on Nature Conservation and Pastoralism (EFNCP) since its inception in 1988 and have been involved in the development of the HNV farming systems concept and highlighting the impacts of policy on HNV farming systems across Europe.

Selected research projects

  • Assessing the supply and flow of ecosystem services and biodiversity from semi-natural habitats in upland areas under different management
    This project is comparing and contrasting intended and unintended consequences associated with livestock grazing versus rewilding of typical highland glens.
  • Assessing the overall sustainability of alternative upland sheep system in terms of production, economic, animal health & welfare and wider environmental impacts
    This research is investigating differences in sheep production, health, welfare and environmental impacts in two contrasting upland management systems.
  • Meeting the challenge of wild deer research to support the delivery of sustainable deer management in Scotland
    This research for Scottish Government, Scottish Natural Heritage and Forestry Commission Scotland is being conducted with UHI’s Centre for Mountain Studies.
  • Implications of implementing biodiversity enhancement and diffuse pollution mitigation at a catchment scale

PhD students

  • Dave Grant
    This PhD is investigating gull movement and disease transmission with the aim of identifying potential disease transfer pathways as a method for enhancing bio-security for humans and livestock. It is funded by SRUC and registered jointly at the University of Glasgow and SRUC

  • Claire Paton
    This PhD is developing a catchment-based approach to determining environmental controls of Cryptosporidium transfer from land to water. It is funded jointly by SRUC and the University of Stirling and is being conducted in association with Moredun Research Institute and Scottish Water.

Selected publications

See all of Prof Davy McCraken's publications here.

Prof Davy McCracken

Head of SRUC Hill & Mountain Research Centre (HMRC) / Professor of Agricultural Ecology

Address: Future Farming Systems, SRUC, JF Niven Building, Ayr KA6 5HW (HMRC, Kirkton, Crianlarich, Perthshire, FK20 8RU)

Telephone: 01292 525 299

Fax: 01292 525 333