During this period of rapid environmental change, our researchers are working to ameliorate its effects.

We're combining mathematical modelling, modern genomic technologies, ecology and population biology to target several key environmental challenges.

Focus areas

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We're tackling three global challenges with our research. Explore our other challenges:

Our department is home to researchers who are leading in the field of biodiversity.

We aim to understand how human activity and environmental change affects biodiversity and evolutionary processes, both above- and below-ground . We look at biodiversity losses and gains, and their effects on key ecosystem functions.

Through interdisciplinary research we are helping to ensure both natural and agricultural ecosystems and their services are protected. This includes microbial diversity and the nutrient cycles it drives, which in turn underpins ecosystem services such as promoting soil health and mitigating the impacts of pests and pathogens on crops.

Our conservation research tackles three of the biggest threats to biodiversity: habitat fragmentation, over-harvesting and climate change. Our results inform conservation policy and practice globally.

For example, research on how species move across fragmented landscapes in response to climate change has led to an increase in landscape-scale conservation strategies, now known to increase the long-term survival of species.

This has altered practical land designation and management for conservation over millions of hectares in the UK, as well as affecting the strategies adopted by most global conservation organisations and countries in the world.

Meanwhile, our work on poaching in Africa has led to more effective ranger patrols across iconic protected areas and has helped ensure lower poaching in core regions.

Social structure has been shown to play a key role in life history, information transmission, cooperation, group movement and reaction to perceived threat.

Our fundamental research has practical consequences, for example using social models for birds to assess the flock collision hazards caused by wind farm developments, and using social network models to assess resilience of social animals, from wood ants, assessing the conservation implications of forestry management strategies, to killer whales, assessing adaptability to changing food abundance, and also projecting extinction risk from airborne disease in an endangered population. 

Impact highlight

Explore the foci tackling this challenge

Related links

We're tackling three global challenges with our research. Explore our other challenges: