Project status
Project collaborators
Chris Carbone headshot

Prof. Chris Carbone

Professor, IOZ

Guy Cowlishaw headshot

Dr Guy Cowlishaw

Senior Research Fellow

Biodiversity and macroecology research

In a world that has lost touch with nature, we need to rediscover our wonder for wildlife. But the big challenges facing nature need big thinking and action, we can’t hope to solve global threats with individual responses alone.  

That’s why we’re bringing together researchers to understand and tackle challenges to biodiversity (the variation of life at all levels of biological organisation) and macroecology (the study of relationships between organisms and their environment). 

Led by Chris Carbone, contributing researchers believe that an understanding of the evolutionary and ecological basis of biodiversity is needed so we can conserve it effectively. 

Our biodiversity and macroecology research aims 

Our research has three main aims: 

  • To describe patterns of diversity in the biology, ecology and distribution of animal species and their habitats at different temporal and spatial scales. 

  • To test hypotheses about the evolutionary, ecological and environmental processes that may explain the origins, maintenance and loss of this diversity. 

  • To work with practitioners to apply this knowledge in setting priorities for biodiversity conservation. 

Our biodiversity and macroecology work  

We’re focusing on following main research topics: 

Understanding variation in extinction risk among living species

Projects include - studies of mammals (Guy Cowlishaw), birds (John Ewen) and butterflies, as well as the impact of invasive species on island birds (Tim Blackburn). Extinction is also being studied in recent, sub-fossil and fossil assemblages (Sam Turvey, Tim Blackburn). 

Understanding variation in invasion success among living species

Projects include understanding how the characteristics of species, environment, or idiosyncrasies of the introduction process determine which species establish viable populations following release by humans (Tim Blackburn), and understanding the characteristics that determine which species humans chose to introduce (Tim Blackburn) 

Life-history evolution, allometry and energetics

Projects include - understanding carnivore predator prey relationships (Chris Carbone), variation in foraging behaviour and ecology among mammals (Chris Carbone, Guy Cowlishaw and Marcus Rowcliffe), comparative physiology (Tim Blackburn) and avian life-history evolution at different spatial and temporal scales (Tim Blackburn). 

Setting conservation priorities

Projects include - the assessment and listing of threatened taxa (Robin Freeman) and habitat and biodiversity change (Chris Carbone). 

Biodiversity indicators and assessments

Projects include – the status and trends in abundance of species over time (Robin Freeman), regional conservation assessments, and using camera trap methods to monitor biodiversity in protected and wilderness areas (Marcus Rowcliffe and Chris Carbone). 

Our biodiversity and macroecology research methods 

We use modern comparative methods, statistical and mathematical modelling, experimental manipulations, field and laboratory studies to perform this work. The work of this theme is multidisciplinary and involves close collaboration among researchers at the Institute of Zoology and from other organisations. 

Find out more about our science and research work 

People involved

  • Tim Blackburn 

  • Sam Turvey   

  • Marcus Rowcliffe 

  • Ben Collen 


Urgent action to stop the devastation of critical species and habitats by helping people and wildlife live better together, is the only way to save the natural world we love and depend upon. That’s where ZSL comes in, and where you can play your part.