Sandra Irwin

Sandra Irwin, PhD

Dr. Sandra Irwin Programme Manager

School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences,
University College Cork,

353 (0)21 490 4595


   Sandra Irwin


Sandra graduated with a PhD in Zoology from UCC in 1998. Since then she has worked as a post-doctoral researcher and project manager on a variety of national and EU funded projects in both Scotland and Ireland. Sandra has more than 60 publications in international peer-reviewed journals, and has co-authored a number of book chapters. She completed a Project Management course with iPM (Integrated Project Management) in 2008. Since 2007 Sandra has been the programme manager on the multi-disciplinary PLANFORBIO forest biodiversity research programme at UCC, WIT and TCD, and also manages a number of other biodiversity related research projects at UCC. Further information on these projects can be found on UCC's Forest Ecology Research Group and PLANFORBIO Research Programme web pages.



  1. Fernández-Bellon D, Lusby J, Bos J, Schaub T, McCarthy A, Caravaggi A, Irwin S & O'Halloran J. 2020. Expert knowledge assessment of threats and conservation strategies for breeding Hen Harrier and Short-eared Owl across Europe. Bird Conservation International. View paper here.
  2. Corkery I, Irwin S, Quinn J, Keating U, Lusby J, O'Halloran J. 2020. Changes in forest cover result in a shift in bird community composition. Journal of Zoology, 310:306-314 Corkeryetal2020JZool
  3. Caravaggi, A, Irwin, S, Lusby J, McCarthy A, Mee A, Nagle T & O'Halloran J. 2020. Forest management and Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus conservation in Ireland. Irish Birds 42:1-12. Caravagietal2020IB

  4. Caravaggi A, Irwin S, Lusby J, Ruddock M, O’Toole L, Mee A, Nagle T, O’Neill S, Tierney D, McCarthy A & O'Halloran J. 2019. Factors influencing Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus territory site selection and breeding success. Bird Study 66(3):366-377. Caravaggietal2019aBS

  5. Caravaggi A, Irwin S, Lusby J, Ruddock M, Mee A, Nagle T, O'Toole L, O'Neill S & O’Halloran J. 2020. Anthropogenic pressures within the breeding range of the Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus in Ireland. Bird Study 66(4): 461-471. Caravaggietal2019bBS
  6. Pedley SM, Barbaro L, Guilherme JL, Irwin S, O’Halloran J, Proença V & Sullivan MJP. 2019. Functional shifts in bird communities from semi-natural oak forests to conifer plantations are not consistent across Europe. PLOS ONE 14: e0220155.doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0220155. Pedleyetal2019

  7. Fernández-Bellon D, Wilson MW, Irwin S & O'Halloran J. 2019. Effects of development of wind energy and associated changes in land use on bird densities in upland areas. Conservation Biology 33: 413-422.doi: 10.1111/cobi.13239. ConservationBiology2018

  8. Fernández-Bellon D, Wilson MW, Irwin S, Kelly TC, O'Mahony B & O'Halloran J. 2018. Video evidence of siblicide and cannibalism, movement of nestlings by adults and interactions with predators in nesting Hen Harriers. Journal of Raptor Research 52: 393-399. FernandezBellonetalJRR2018

  9. Fernández-Bellon D, Wilson MW, Irwin S, Kelly TC, O’Mahony B & O’Halloran J. 2017. Activity patterns of breeding Hen Harriers Circus cyaneus assessed using nest cameras. Bird Study 64: 557-561. Fernandez Bellon et al 2017

  10. Lusby J, Corkery I, McGuiness S, Fernández-Bellon D, Toal L, Norriss D, Breen D, O’Donaill A, Clarke D, Irwin S, Quinn JL & O’Halloran J. 2017. Breeding ecology and habitat selection of Merlin Falco columbarius in forested landscapes. Bird Study 64: 445-454 Lusby et al 2017 BS

  11. O'Halloran J, Kelly TC, Quinn JL, Irwin S, Fernández-Bellon D, Caravaggi A & Smiddy P. 2017. Current ornithological research in Ireland: seventh Ornithological Research Conference, UCC, November 2017. Irish Birds 10: 598-638.

  12. O'Callaghan CJ, Irwin S, Byrne KA & O'Halloran J. 2016. The role of planted forests in the provision of habitat: an Irish perspective. Biodiversity and Conservation, DOI 10.1007/s10531-016-1125-7. O'Callaghan et al 2016

  13. Wilson MW, Fernández-Bellon D, Irwin S, O’Halloran J. 2017. Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus population trends in relation to wind farms. Bird Study:1-10. Wilson et al 2017

  14. Wilson MW, Irwin S, O'Mahony B, Kelly TC, O'Halloran J. 2017. The effects of fieldwork on Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus breeding success. Irish Birds 10: 457-462. Wilson et al 2017b

  15. Bullock CH, O’Callaghan C, Dhubháin ÁN, Iwata Y, O’Donoghue C, Ryan M, Upton V, Byrne KA, Irwin S & O’Halloran J. 2016. A review of the range and value of ecosystem services from Irish forests. Irish Forestry, 73: 65-95 Bullocketal2016

  16. Pedley SM, Oxbrough A., Martin RD, Irwin S, Kelly TC & O'Halloran J. 2016. Can ground-based assessments of forest biodiversity reflect the biological condition of canopy assemblages? Forest Ecology and Management, 359: 190-198 Pedley et al 2016

  17. Fernández-Bellon D, Irwin S, Wilson MW & O’Halloran J. 2015. Reproductive output of Hen Harriers Circus cyaneus in relation to wind turbine proximity. Irish Birds 10: 143-150. FernandezBellonetal2016 

  18. Graham CT, Wilson MW, Gittings T, Kelly TC, Irwin S, Quinn J & O'Halloran J. 2015. Implications of afforestation for bird communities: the importance of preceding land-use type. Biodiversity and Conservation 26: 3051-3071. Graham et al 2015
  19. Daly E, NcCarthy N, O'Halloran J, Irwin S & O'Rathaille M. 2014. Effect of forest litter depth on seed germination efficacy of Rhododendron ponticum. Irish Forestry, 71: 50-62. Daly et al 2014

  20. Fuller L, Newman M, Irwin S, Kelly D & O'Halloran J. 2014. Ground-dwelling spider diversity in rare European oak and yew woodlands and the impact of grazing. Biodiversity and Conservation, 23(8): 1911-1929. Fulleretal2014BC

  21. Graham CT, Wilson MW, Gittings T, Kelly TC, Irwin S, Sweeney O & O'Halloran J. 2014. Factors affecting the bird diversity of planted and semi-natural oak forests in Ireland. Bird Study, 61(3): 309-320. Graham et al 2014 BS

  22. Irwin S, Pedley SM, Coote L, Dietzsch AC, Wilson MW, Oxbrough A, Sweeney O, Moore KM, Martin R, Kelly DL, Mitchell FJG, Kelly TC & O'Halloran J. 2014. The value of plantation forests for plant, invertebrate and bird diversity and the potential for cross-taxon surrogacy. Biodiversity and Conservation, 23(3): 697-714. Irwin et al 2014

  23. Oxbrough A, Irwin S, Wilson MW & O'Halloran J. 2013. Mechanisms and predictors of ecological change in managed forests: A selection of papers from the second international conference on biodiversity in forest ecosystems and landcapses. Forest Ecology and Management, 321: 1-4. Oxbrough et al 2014

  24. Pedley SM, Martin RD, Oxbrough A, Irwin S, Kelly TC & O'Halloran J. 2014. Commercial spruce plantations support a limited canopy fauna: Evidence from a multi taxa comparison of native and plantations forests. Forest Ecology and Management, 314:172-182. Pedley et al 2014

  25. Coote L, Dietzsch AC, Wilson MW, Graham CT, Fuller L, Walsh AT, Irwin S, Kelly DL, Mitchell FJG, Kelly TC and O'Halloran J. 2013. Testing indicators of biodiversity for plantation forests. Ecological Indicators, 32: 107-115. Coote et al 2013

  26. Fuller L, Oxbrough A, Gittings T, Irwin S, Kelly TC & O'Halloran J. 2013. The response of ground-dwelling spiders (Aranae) and hoverflies (Diptera: Syrphidae) to afforestation assessed using within-site tracking. Forestry Fulleretal2013F

  27. Fuller L, Oxbrough A, Irwin S, Kelly TC & O'Halloran J. 2013. The importance of young plantation forest habitat and forest road-verges for ground-dwelling spider diversity. Biology & Environment, 113B: 259-271. Fuller2013a

  28. Graham CT, Irwin S, Wilson MW, Gittings T, Kelly TC & O'Halloran J. 2013. Tracking the impact of afforestation on bird communities. Irish Forestry, 70: 172-183. Graham et al 2013

  29. Irwin, S, Kelly, DL, Kelly, TC, Mitchell, FJG, Coote, L, Oxbrough, A, Wilson, MW, Martin, RD, Moore, KA, Sweeney, O, Dietzsch, A & O'Halloran, J. 2013. Do Irish forests provide habitat for species of conservation concern. Biology & Environment 113B: 273-279. Irwin2013

  30. Murphy V, Carden R, Harrison S, O'Halloran J, Irwin S & Butler, F. 2013. Deer in Irish commercial forests. Irish Forestry 70:91-103. Murphy et al 2013

  31. O'Halloran J, Irwin S, Kelly TC, Quinn J, Wilson MW & Smiddy P. 2013. Current ornithological research in Ireland: 6th Ornithological Research Conference, UCC, November 2013. Irish Birds, 9: 641-687

  32. Graham CT, Wilson MW, Irwin S, Gittings T, Kelly TC & O'Halloran J. 2012. Bird communities of forest roads: preliminary findings of a long term study. Irish Birds, 9: 367-374. Graham et al 2012

  33. O'Connell S, Irwin S, Wilson MW, Sweeney OF, Kelly TC & O'Halloran J. 2012. How can forest management benefit bird communities? Evidence from eight years of research in Ireland. Irish Forestry, 69: 44-57. O'Connell 2012

  34. Oxbrough A, French V, Irwin S, Kelly TC, Smiddy P & O'Halloran J. 2012. Can mixed species stands enhance arthropod diversity in plantation forests? Forest Ecology and Management, 270: 11-18. Oxbrough et al 2012.

  35. Sweeney OF, Kelly TC, Irwin S, Wilson M & O'Halloran J. 2012. Woodlands, Forest and Scrub. In: Bird Habitats in Ireland (Nairn, R. & O'Halloran, J. eds). The Collins Press. Pp. 105-123.

  36. Wilson MW, Gittings T, Pithon J, Kelly TC, Irwin S & O'Halloran J. 2012. Bird diversity of afforestation habitats in Ireland: current trends and likley impacts. Biology & Environment, 112: 1-14. Wilson et al 2012

  37. Wilson MW, O'Donoghue B, O'Mahony B, Cullen C, O'Donoghue T, Oliver G, Ryan B, Troake P, Irwin S, Kelly TC, Rotella JJ & O'Halloran J. 2012. Mismatches between breeding success and habitat preferences in Hen Harriers Circus cyaneus breeding in forested landscapes. Ibis, 154: 578-589. Wilson et al 2012 Ibis

  38. Irwin S, Wilson MW, Kelly TC, O'Mahony B, Oliver G, Troake P, Ryan B, Cullen C, O'Donoghue B & O'Halloran J. 2011. The breeding biology of Hen Harriers Circus cyaneus in Ireland over a five year period. Irish Birds, 9: 165-172. Irwin et al 2011

  39. Sweeney OF, Wilson MW, Irwin S, Kelly TC & O'Halloran J. 2011. Breeding birds of native woodlands and plantation forests in Ireland. Irish Birds, 9: 181-196. Sweeney et al 2010b.

  40. Irwin S & Davenport J. 2010. Oxygen microenvironment of coralline algal tufts and their associated epiphytic animals. Biology & Environment, 110B: 185-193. Irwin Davenport 2010

  41. O’Sullivan B, Keady S, Keane E, Irwin S & O’Halloran J. 2010. Data Mining for Biodiversity Prediction in Forests. Proceedings of the 2010 conference on ECAI 2010: 19th European Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 289-294. OSullivan et al 2010

  42. Oxbrough A, Irwin S, Kelly TC & O'Halloran 2010 Ground-dwelling invertebrates in reforested conifer plantations. Forest Ecology and Management, 259: 2111-2121. PDF

  43. Sweeney OF, Martin R, O'Halloran J, Irwin S, Kelly TC, Wilson MW & McEvoy PM. 2010. A lack of large diameter logs and snags characterises dead wood in Irish forests. Forest Ecology and Management, 259: 2056-2064. Sweeney et al 2010a

  44. Sweeney OF,Wilson MW, Irwin S, Kelly TC & O'Halloran J. 2010.  The influence of a native tree species mix component on bird communities in non-native coniferous plantations in Ireland.  Bird Study, 57 (4): 483-494. PDF here.

  45. Sweeney OF, Wilson MW, Irwin S, Kelly TC & O'Halloran J. 2010. Breeding bird communities of second rotation plantations at different stages of the forest cycle. Bird Study, 57: 301-314. Sweeney et al 2010

  46. Sweeney OF, Wilson MW, Irwin S, Kelly TC & O'Halloran J. 2010.  Are bird density, species richness and community structure similar in native woodlands and non-native plantations in an area with a generalist bird fauna?  Biodiversity & Conservation, 19 (8): 2329-2342. Sweeney et al 2010

  47. Wilson MW, Irwin S, O'Donoghue B, Kelly T. & O'Halloran J. 2010.  The use of forested landscapes by Hen Harriers in Ireland. COFORD Connects, Environment No. 10.  Wilson et al 2010

  48. Wilson MW, Irwin S, Norriss DW, Newton SF, Collins K, Kelly TC & O'Halloran J. 2009. The importance of pre-thicket conifer plantations for nesting Hen Harriers Circus cyaneus in Ireland. Ibis, 151: 332-343. Wilson et al 2009

  49. Irwin S, Wilson MW, Kelly TC, O'Donoghue B, O'Mahony B, Oliver G, Cullen C, O'Donoghue T & O'Halloran J. 2008. A note on the breeding biology of Hen Harriers Circus cyaneus in Ireland. Irish Birds, 8: 331-334. Irwinetal2008

  50. O'Halloran J, Kelly TC, Irwin S & Newton S. 2008. Current Ornithological Research in Ireland: 5th Ornithological Research Conference, UCC November 2008. Irish Birds, 8: 441-488.

  51. Roycroft D, Irwin S, Wilson M, Kelly TC & O'Halloran J. 2008. The breeding bird community of Balrath Wood 2007. Irish Forestry, 65: 60-70. Roycroft 2008

  52. Irwin S, Davenport J & Wall V. 2007. Measurement of temperature and salinity effects on oxygen consumption of Artemia fransciscana K., measured using fiber-optic oxygen microsensors. Hydrobiologia, 575: 109-115 Irwin et al 2007

  53. Irwin S & Davenport J. 2006. Implications of water flow and oxygen gradients for molluscan oxygen uptake and respirometric measurements. Journal of the Marine Biological Association, UK, 86:1-2. Irwin Davenport 2006 JMBA

  54. Davenport J & Irwin S. 2003. The hypoxic life of intertidal acorn barnacles. Marine Biology, 143:555-563. Davenport Irwin 2003 Mar Biol

  55. O'Halloran J, Irwin S, Harrison S, Smiddy P & O'Mahony B. 2003. Mercury and organochlorine content of Dipper Cinclus cinclus eggs in south-west Ireland: trends during 1990-1999. Environmental Pollution, 123:85-93. PDF

  56. Shields RJ, Irwin S, Smith PL & McEvoy LA. 2003. Effects of diet transition regimen on survival, growth and lipid composition of intensively reared Atlantic cod, Gadus morhua, larvae. Aquaculture International, 11:119-130.   Shields et al 2003

  57. FitzGerald R, Stefansson SO, Garforth D & Irwin S. 2002. Production II: From egg to market size: onrearing in freshwater and marine environments. In: Handbook of Salmon Farming (Stead, S. M. and Laird, L., eds.). Chichester, UK, Praxis Publishing. Pp 65-104.    

  58.  Irwin S & Davenport J. 2002. Iron status of adult dogfish (Scyliorhinus canicula) tissues and sources of iron during embryonic development. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 82:1-5. Irwin Davenport 2002 JMBA

  59. Irwin S & Davenport J. 2002. Hyperoxic boundary layers inhabited by the epiphytic meiofauna of Fucus serratus. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 244:73-79.Irwin Davenport 2002 MEPS

  60. Irwin S, O'Halloran J & FitzGerald RD. 2002. The relationship between individual consumption and growth in juvenile turbot, Scophthalmus maximus. Aquaculture, 204:65-74. Irwin Et Al 2002 Aqua B   

  61. Irwin S, O'Halloran J & FitzGerald RD. 2002. Mouth morphology and behavioural responses of cultured turbot towards food pellets of different sizes and moisture content. Aquaculture, 205:77-88. Irwin et al., 2002

  62. Irwin S, O'Halloran J & FitzGerald RD. 1999. Stocking density, growth and growth variation in juvenile turbot, Scophthalmus maximus (Rafinesque). Aquaculture, 178:77-88.Irwin Et Al 1999 Aqua

  63. Irwin S, Kenny AP, O'HalloranJ, FitzGerald RD & Duggan PF. 1999. Adaptation and validation of a radioimmunoassay kit for measuring plasma cortisol in turbot. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, Part C, 124:27-31. Irwin et al 1999 CBP  

  64. Irwin S & O'Halloran J. 1997. The wintering behaviour of coot Fulica atra L. at Cork lough, south-west Ireland. Biology and Environment, 97:157-162. IrwinOHalloran1997

  65. FitzGerald RD, Flannigan M, Brennan C, Haraldsson H, Clarke J, Coughlan J, Irwin S, Roby F, Ní Chara U & Cross TF. 1995. Research on farmed turbot (Scophthalmus maximus) in Ireland. In: Irish Marine Science (Keegan, B. F. and O'Connor, R., eds.), Galway University Press.   

  66. O'Halloran J, Smiddy P & Irwin S. 1995. Movements of mute swans in south-west Ireland. Irish Birds, 5:295-298





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