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Dr Mark Mulligan

Mulligan, Dr Mark

Mark MulliganReader and Head of Department

Tel:  +44 (0)20 7848 2280 

Department of Geography 
King's College London 
Office: Bush House North East Wing, Room 6.16  



Mark Mulligan completed his undergraduate degree in geography at the University of Bristol from 1988-1991. After a brief period in the rainforests of Brunei with the then RGS Brunei Rainforest Expedition, he moved to King’s College London for his PhD on “Modelling Hydrology and Vegetation Change in a Degraded Semi-arid Area”, supervised by Professor John Thornes. Mark took up the post of lecturer in Geography at King’s in September 1994 at the age of 24 and has been teaching and researching in the Department since with a year (2003-2004) on research secondment to Istituto di Botanica, Universita' di Napoli, Italy. In 2003 Mark was appointed Reader in Geography and in 2004 was awarded the Royal Geographical Society - Institute of British Geographers Gill Memorial Award for ‘innovative monitoring and modelling’ of environmental systems. Mark works with a large body of (mainly overseas) PhD students having first-supervised 24 successful PhD completions since 2000. He currently supervises a further ten PhD students on a variety of topics in the area of policy support, ecosystem service evaluation and environmental change, at scales from local to global and with a particular emphasis on tropical forests and semi arid drylands.

Mark  has a keen interest in field research as well as simulation modelling and remote sensing and develops and maintains a series of very large environmental databases which are freely accessible from his Impact, Innovation & Outreach page

Mark is senior fellow at the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), adjunct Doctoral Graduate Faculty at Texas State University 2007-2012, and trustee of PROAVES UK.

Research interests
  • eco-hydrology
  • Mediterranean desertification
  • climate and land use change on tropical forests
  • GIS and modelling – Colombia, Ecuador

My research interests include climate, hydrology and vegetation processes and dynamics, and their interactions with each other, and with human activity, in Mediterranean and tropical humid environments. My research applies high-tech field monitoring and distributed process-based computer modelling along with tethered and airborne photogrammetry , analysis of remote sensing data and laboratory experimentation  to achieve this. I am committed to science in the service of society and have thus focused (collaboratively with industrial partners) on making my research results available to industrial and policy-oriented users through decision support tools and web-based modelling tools and data distribution systems.

My varied research interests are realised collaboratively with industry, international partners and a large group of PhD students and can be summarised:

(1) Semi-arid desertification and land degradation, incorporating: 

  • The role of natural climate variability versus anthropic climate and land use change
  • Modelling surface and subsurface controls on hydrology and vegetation dynamics
  • The development of policy and decision support systems for the better understanding, prevention and/or mitigation of Mediterranean desertification in southern Europe and North Africa through a series of EU funded research projects including MODULUS , MedAction , DESURVEY

(2) The hydrology and ecophysiology of tropical montane cloud forests (TMCF), incorporating: 

  • Laboratory and field determination of rainfall and fog interception by canopies and epiphytes
  • Distributed monitoring and modelling of TMCF catchment hydrology and effects of landscape variability, climate and land use change. Modelling water production by montane and lowland forests and the viability of payments for Environmental Services (PES) schemes through projects such as the FIESTA project and the NERC ESPA Situation Analysis
  • Pan-tropical assessment of cloud forest distribution , hydrological services and conservation with a particular focus on the impacts of climate and land use change
  • Understanding the physiology of tropical montane cloud forest trees, in particular the role of light and leaf wetness in stunting their photosynthetic production 

(3) Continental to global hydrological and ecological modelling, incorporating 

  • Modelling climate, hydrology and vegetation change under current and future climates at the European scale 
  • The development of pan-tropical climatologies for rainfall and cloud cover from satellite sources 
  • The integration of these with various global scale datasets and process models for understanding the hydrological impacts of global land use and climate change, including the CPWF Basin Focal Project , and a pantropical analysis of hydrological service provision to dams 
  • The delivery of these datasets to the global user community 

(4) New technologies for rapid regional assessment of conservation priority in the tropics, incorporating 

  • Spatial modelling and geodiversity-biodiversity relations from regional to national scales (with respect to trees and birds to date), through the HERB project
  • Assessment of diversity and conservation priority from manual and automated analysis of high-resolution imagery and photography of forest canopies
  • Environment-vegetation-diversity relationships in TMCF and lowland tropical rainforest 
  • Regional to local scale modelling of environmental sensitivity to climate and land use change 
  • Geospatial technologies for minimising the impacts of the Petroleum industry in the western Amazon, Proyecto AMBIODUCTO 

(5) Hydrological applications of ground penetrating radar, incorporating 

  • GPR for the distributed parameterisation of subsurface properties in hydrological models
  • GPR for soil moisture (and water leak) detection

CompAndes: Benefit-Sharing Mechanisms to Improve Water Productivity and Reduce Water-Related Conflict in Selected Basins (2010, 4 years, CGIAR Challenge Programme on Water and Food, USD 1,199,995 (£ 833, 271 ), 315,600 USD (£219 151) to KCL, PI)

Mapping the potential of global hydropower to sustain renewable energy demands, the risks imposed by climate change and strategies for adaptation through land cover management (2009, 6 months, Geo Challenge Grant, USD 25000 (£17163), PI) 

A Situation Analysis to Identify Challenges to Sustainable Management of Ecosystems to Maximise Poverty Alleviation: Securing Biostability in the Amazon/Andes (2007, 7 months, NERC-DfID ESPA , total 247K, £30K to KCL) Co-I 

Novel computing methods for detailed pan-tropical water resource futures simulation (2007, 3 years, Microsoft Research , Euro 100 000) PI 

CGIAR Challenge Programme on Water and Food Basin focal project for the Andes system of basins (2007, 2 years, CGIAR, USD 600 000, PI (USD 260 000 (£178,490) to KCL)) 

Modelling environmental controls of the distribution of Colombian birds (2005, 3 years, SSSPP scholarship, £50 000) PI 

Scholarships for masters research training, four studentships for five years (2005, 5 years, NERC, £120 000, with EMM group) PI 

Crown taxonomy of lowland Amazonian tree species from high resolution aerial photography : a tool for inventory and conservation (2005, 1 year, WWF RET, $25 000, with Carlos Gonzalez) Co-I 

DESURVEY A Surveillance System for Assessing and Monitoring of Desertification (applied 2004, 3 years, EC FP6, £122 234) Co-I 

Development of spatial modelling system (2003, 1 year, ITALTEL (Italy), Euro 67K) Co-I 

Monitoring tropical forest tree diversity from airborne digital photography. (2003, 3 year EU Alban Programme studentship. Euro 51 000) PI 

Equipment in support of field and laboratory monitoring and modelling activities (2003, 1 year, SRIF, £110 000,co-investigator) Co-I 

Project BIOMAP-Colombia Integrating biodiversity studies with GIS (2001, 3 years, UK DETR Darwin Initiative, £48 108, co-investigator) Co-I 

Numerical Modelling of Industrial, Biomedical and Environmental Flow Processes (2001, 1 year, EPSRC JREI, £149 812, co-investigator) Co-I 

DFID British Council Link New decision support technologies for sustainable petroleum production and distribution in the Ecuadorian Amazon (2001, 3 years, DfID, £9000) PI 

A desertification decision support system for the Guadalentin basin, MEDACTION (2000, 2 years, EU DGXII, Euro 41 000) Co-I 

Minimising the impact of petroleum leaks in the Napo area of the Ecuadorian Amazon (2000, 1 month, British Council (Ecuador), £1800) PI 

Hydrological Research at the Napo deforestation front : reconnaissance (2000, 1 month, British Council (Ecuador), £300) PI 

Safety equipment and research funds for Cloud forest research : Colombia (2000, 1 month, King's College London, £680) PI 

Participation in workshop : Scale in Decision Making for Latin American Ecoregional Development (2000,1 week, CIAT, Colombia, £1400) PI 

Hydrological research in degraded secondary forest in Mindanao (2000, 1 month, British Council (Philippines), £1200) Co-I 

DFID British Council Link "New technologies for rapid biodiversity assessment" (2000, 3 years, DFiD, £20 000) PI 

Development of a Weather Generator for the Scheldt river Delta, The Netherlands (2000, 3 months, Research Institute for Knowledge Systems b.v., £7575) PI 

Tropical cloud forest hydrology (1999, 2 months, King's College London, Humanities Small Grants, £600) PI 

Tropical cloud forest hydrology (1999, 2 months, COLCIENCIAS, Colombia, £900) PIMediterranean agricultural practices and soil hydrology (1999, 1 month, British Council and Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, £580) PI 

The role of epiphytes in the hydrology of Colombian catchments (1998, 1 year, The Royal Society, £8700) PIGround Penetrating Radar for the rapid and efficient detection of mains water leakage. (1998, 1 year, Thames Water Utilities UK, £48K) PI 

The development of an environmental modelling laboratory (1997, 1 year, King's College London, £30K) PI 

Modelling Ground Penetrating Radar returns for sustainable water distribution (1997, 3 years, UK NERC CASE with Thames Water Utilities UK, £30K) PI 

MODULUS - Integrating models for desertification in a decision support framework (1997, 1 year, EU DGXII, 44 K ECU) Co-I 

A review of the European Union funded research in the field of Modelling Desertification (1997, 2 months, EU DGXII, 5000 ECU) PI 

The role of epiphytes in cloud forest hydrology (1997, 2 months, The Nuffield Foundation, £1200) PI 

Field monitoring for hydrological research in degraded secondary forest in Mindanao (1997,1 month, British Council (Philippines), £1200) Co-I 

Development of a field monitoring network for understanding the hydrology of cloud deposition in Colombian Montane Forest (1997, 2 months, University of London Central Research Fund, £1500) PI 

The estimation of soil pore volume using Ground Penetrating Radar (1996, 3 years, UK NERC CASE with Sensors and Software Inc. Canada, £30K) PI 

Field validation of models for tropical cloud forest hydrology, Narino, southern Colombia. (1996, 1 month, The British Council (Colombia), £600) PI 

Development of hydrological research in degraded secondary forest in Mindanao (1996,1 month, British Council (Philippines), £1,200) Co-I 

Modelling the hydrology of tropical cloud forest, Narino, southern Colombia. (1995, 1 month, King’s College London Research Strategy Fund, £750) PI 

Acquisition of ground penetrating radar equipment (1995, KCL Research Strategy Fund, £23,100) PI 

The role of water and the hydrological cycle in global change (1994, 1 month, NATOAdvanced Studies Institute, US $850) PI

PhD students

Current students


Diego Cisneros Heredia 
Impact Of Habitat Changes On The Biological Diversity Of The Northern Tropical Andes


Elina Aletrari funded: Cyprus Gov [EU]. Beyond 2010: A Framework For The Global Reassessment Of The 2010 Biodiversity Target Pantropically. Joint with Natural History Museum.

Paul Breeze  NERC funded GIS analysis of the dispersal of Hominins through the Saharo-Arabian desert 

Andrew Ogilvie [EU] funded: EC Wassermed Project. Hydro-social functioning of small reservoirs in a semi-arid catchment (Merguellil, Central Tunisia). Joint with University Montpellier II and Move.


Louis Reymondin  Near-real time pan-tropical monitoring system for natural vegetation conversion detection

Caitlin Douglas Environmental change and animal populations in the Swakop basin of Namibia : application of an individual based model 

Shawn McCracken (Texas State University) 
Environmental Quality Effects And The Ecological Context Of Vertically Stratified Rainforest Canopy Fauna (adjunct faculty supervisor)

Completed students


Dr Leonardo Zurita-Arthos  
Oil and biodiversity in the Western Amazon : minimising impact while sustaining production


Dr Jan Francke  
The Design of Long-Range Ground Penetrating Radar Technology for the Imaging of Aeolian Sands  

Dr Bhopal Pandeya 

The provision of environmental services to dams in the Himalaya : options for PES schemes in the face of climate change 

Dr Jorge Peña Arancibia  
Pantropical modelling of the impact of land use change on water quantity provision and low flows 

Dr Arnout van Soesbergen 
Impacts of climate change on water resources of global dams    


Dr Kate Parks

Climate change stable conservation strategies for the world's tropical montane cloud forests

Dr Juan Carlos Verhelst  

Quantifying national scale biodiversity-geodiversity relationships 

Dr Leonardo Saenz Cruz  
Pantropical modelling of the impact of land use change on water quality provision to dams 

Dr Juan Carlos Verhelst
Quantifying national scale biodiversity-geodiversity relationships

Dr Elena Tarnavsky 
Scaling remote sensing data for policy relevant desertification modelling in North Africa

Dr Jose Mauricio Larrea 
Modelling the hydrological vulnerability of environments to petroleum-related contamination in the Ecuadorian Oriente.

Dr Carlos Gonzalez-Orozco 
Identifying tree species from high-resolution airborne imagery: a tool for inventory and conservation 

Dr Pablo Vimos-Calle 
Understanding forest heterogeneity in the lowlands of the Ecuadorian Amazon. 

Dr Teo di Tommasso 
Soil quality and root dynamics in Mediterranean Desertification (occasional student, University of Potenza)

Dr Juliana Gonzalez 
The role of cloud interception in the hydrology of Colombian tropical montane cloud forests. 

Dr Zhang Zhong 
Modelling plant community response to climatic change at the global scale.  

Dr Andrew Jarvis 
Understanding biophysical and landscape controls on spatial patterns of tree diversity

Dr Ines Lopes de Fonseca 
Modelling variation in soil properties for SE Spain using GIS techniques

Dr Pam Vass 
Plant diversity and spatial discontinuities of the Albany Centre in the south-eastern Cape, South Africa (co-supervised with George Perry and Philip Stott)

Dr Gemma Dunjo Denti 
Indicators of desertification in a semi arid Mediterranean catchment (co-supervised with J. Wainwright)

Dr Dolors Armenteras 
Modelling Colombian biodiversity at the national scale using GIS

Dr Matthew Letts 
Structure and productivity of tropical montane cloud forests in western Colombia. 

Dr Peter Walpole 
Effects of land conversion on water and nutrient retention in tropical montane environment, Mindanao, Philippines (inherited from John Pitman, on retirement in 2001) 

Dr Mauricio Rincon-Romero 
Modelling the sensitivity of Colombian hillsides to land use change

Dr Waleed Alsabhan 
Developing a real time online GIS-based catchment hydrological model

Dr Matthew Charlton 
Efficient location of mains water leaks using ground penetrating radar.

Dr Andrew Howe 
The estimation of soil total pore volume using ground penetrating radar



  • Personal Tutor (Years 1,2 and 3) 
  • First year academic tutor 
  • Sole lecturer : Year 3 Tropical Forests in a Changing Environment. 
  • BSc dissertation supervisor 
  • Deputy chair, Undergraduate exam board 


  • Masters academic tutorials 
  • Convenor MSc. Environmental Monitoring, Modelling and Management
  • Convenor MSc. Geography
  • Sole lecturer: Modelling Environmental Change
  • Sole lecturer: Environmental GIS
  • Contributor: Terrestrial Environmental Change 1 (land use change) 
  • Contributor: Research Design and Application 
  • Contributor: MSc dissertations 
  • Contributor: Seminars in Environmental Management 
Impact, innovation and outreach

Please visit Dr Mulligan's impact page for full details of his outreach activities.


Please visit Dr Mulligan's research profile for a full list of publications.



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