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Conor Owens


Conor has a B.A. (Hons) in Natural Sciences, specialising in Botany, and an M.Sc. in Biodiversity and Conservation both from Trinity College Dublin. His primary interests are in plant, invertebrate and conservation ecology. He has previously worked on semi-natural woodland in Wicklow and Killarney National Parks and calcareous grassland in the Burren, Co. Clare. He is currently undertaking his PhD under Prof Fraser Mitchell and Prof Jane Stout. This is a multidisciplinary project and in collaboration with Prof Laurence Gill (TCD Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering). Conor is looking at integrating biodiversity conservation and applied water treatment systems.

PhD project: Biodiversity in willow evapotranspiration systems used for wastewater treatment

Constructed wetlands are artificial wetlands designed to mimic the contaminant attenuation ability of naturally occurring wetlands. They are increasingly seen in Ireland and worldwide as a solution to the on-site treatment of waste water from domestic and other sources in rural areas. In recent years, public and political interest surrounding these systems has grown and they are seen as a viable alternative to more conventional wastewater treatment systems which require relatively high levels of maintenance. They are likely to become permanent features in our landscape that will proliferate in the future.

Constructed wetlands are often promoted as having a beneficial role with respect to biodiversity but this is rarely rigorously evaluated. This project aims to assess the plant and invertebrate biodiversity of willow evapotranspiration systems, a subtype of constructed wetland suitable for low permeability subsoils, and the contribution they make to the biodiversity of the wider landscape. The factors driving biodiversity in these systems are being investigated with a view to providing management recommendations to maximise this biodiversity.


Funding: TCD Postgraduate Research Studentship



Tel: +353 1 896 3068