Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research



Alien species are primary cause of recent global extinctions

Alien species are the main driver of recent extinctions in both animals and plants, according to a new study by UCL researchers.
The study, published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, used data from the 2017 IUCN Red List on the total numbers of species that are considered to have gone extinct globally since 1500.

Publication date:

Professor Georgina Mace wins prestigious biodiversity award

We are proud to announce Professor Dame Georgina Mace has received the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in recognition of her pioneering research in biodiversity.
Professor Mace, founding director of the UCL Centre for Biodiversity & Environment Research and UCL Professor of Biodiversity and Ecosystems, was jointly awarded the Ecology and Conservation Biology category of the prize with Professor Gretchen Daily of Stanford University.

Publication date:

CBER to represent UCL on the Global Challenges Research Fund 'Hubs' initiative

We are pleased to announce the Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research is a partner on one of the 12 recently awarded Global Challenges Research Fund 'Hubs'. These cross-disciplinary hubs are each receiving around £20 million to look into and address one of the global challenges.
CBER is part of the UKRI GCRF Trade, Development and the Environment (TRADE) Hub, led by the UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), which aims to understand the environmental and social costs and benefits of international trade. UCL's contribution to the project will be led by Dr Tim Newbold and Professor Georgina Mace. The funding of around £0.75 million will allow them to support two research staff who will be working on evaluating biodiversity impacts of international trade.

Publication date:

New spider named after UCL scientist Dr Ben Collen

A newly discovered species of spider, Loureedia colleni, has been named in honour of Dr Ben Collen, an internationally recognised conservation scientist and founder member of the UCL Centre for Biodiversity & Environment Research.

Publication date:

Monitoring urban biodiversity with machine learning

A new algorithm developed by UCL academics to monitor biodiversity in urban environments could improve our understanding of how cities can best support plant and animal life.

Publication date:

Why do we love bees but hate wasps?

New study by the Sumner lab reveals that wasps are universally disliked by the public and this is most likely due to a low-level interest in nature and a lack of knowledge about the benefits wasps bring to our planet’s health and function.

Publication date:

New study co-authored by CBER’s Fiona Spooner and Richard Pearson identifies global warming rate as a critical factor behind birds and mammals population declines

For the study, published in Global Change Biology, 987 populations of 481 species across the globe were studied to investigate how the rate of climate change and land-use change (from natural to human-dominated landscapes) interact to affect the rate of decline on mammals and birds, as well as whether species located in protected areas and body size had an influence.
The rate at which our climate is warming was found to be the best explanation for the observed rate of population declines.

Publication date:

Senior Promotions 2018

Congratulations to all colleagues whose achievements have been recognised in the most recent round of Senior Promotions. This year has been exceptional in terms of the number of applications received and successful promotions. We proudly present a list of Divisional promotees:

Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment

Publication date:

Dr Richard Pearson receives prestigious ZSL Scientific Medal

ZSL’s Scientific Medal is awarded to research scientists with up to 15 years postdoctoral experience for distinguished work in Zoology. CBER’s Richard Pearson was awarded the medal for outstanding contributions to the study of the impacts of climate change on biodiversity.

Publication date:

New paper by CBER’s Tim Newbold identifies climate change as major threat to global biodiversity

The new study, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, shows that the effects of climate change on ecological communities are predicted to match or exceed land use in its effects on vertebrate community diversity by 2070, and surpass the effects of historical land use.
The findings suggest that efforts to minimise human impact on global biodiversity should now take both land use and climate change into account instead of just focusing on one over the other, as the combined effects are expected to have significant negative effects on the global ecosystem.

Publication date:


Professor Kate Jones discusses how some bats, dolphins and other animals emit sounds at high frequencies to explore their environments, rather than sight with Melvyn Bragg.

Publication date:

Dr Ben Collen Obituary (12 February 1978 – 19 May 2018)

Dr Ben Collen was an internationally recognized conservation scientist whose work has provided new knowledge and understanding about recent trends in wildlife populations across the world. His research was at the forefront of developing science-based indicators to track the precipitous loss of biodiversity around the world and had a major impact on global conservation policies. He died on 19 May 2018 at the age of 40 following a bone cancer diagnosis just 15 months earlier. He tackled his illness with the same attitude that characterized his work, always being positive, open, creative and with great good humour. His untimely death has left a huge hole not only in UCL’s newly-established Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research, of which he was a founder member, but also in the international conservation science community.
After graduating in 2001 with a degree in Biology at Imperial College, Ben spent a year working in Kenya undertaking field work on large mammals. The bug to work in conservation took hold and he studied for a Master’s degree at the University of York, undertaking his research project with a like-minded set of conservation biologists based at the Institute of Zoology in London. Ben stayed on to study for a PhD with Professor Georgina Mace and Professor Andy Purvis at Imperial College on understanding how to assess species extinctions. In 2005, with his PhD completed, Ben joined the Indicators and Assessments Unit at the Institute of Zoology working with Dr Jonathan Baillie. Ben was instrumental in the re-launch of the WWF Living Planet Index (LPI). Ben massively enhanced the underlying data and rigour of the analysis of the index that established it as the most widely used indicator of global wildlife population trends, an essential tool for understanding human impacts on our planet’s biodiversity. His work led to a wide range of international collaborations with academics, governments and conservation charities, making him a key contributor to the landmark assessment of the state of global biodiversity in 2010.
In 2013 he joined UCL’s Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research (CBER) in the Genetics, Evolution and Environment Department, and was promoted to Reader in 2015. Ben played a critical role in defining CBER’s research agenda and developing it as an international centre of excellence for biodiversity research, now with over 40 research staff, post-docs and PhD students. Ben’s own research attracted a large group of research students and postdocs working on understanding how biodiversity is changing across the world, supported by several large research grants, most recently from the Leverhulme Trust, WWF UK and the Darwin Initiative. He made a major contribution to the re-establishment of an undergraduate field course at UCL’s unique field site at Blakeney Point on the north Norfolk coast, and will be remembered by a number of cohorts of Biological Science students for his lively encouragement of their first experience of field research.
We are all devastated by his untimely death, but his work and his style permeates CBER and his legacy will live on in his projects and his students. Our thoughts are with his wife Alanna, his daughter Ottilie and the rest of his family. Messages from around the world have paid tribute not only to his scientific contributions, but also his kindness, generosity of time and spirit, his mischievous sense of humour, and how he inspired so many to pursue careers in conservation. He was the very best of us, and he will be sorely missed by students, staff and friends alike.
Ben’s wife Alanna has set up a JustGiving page in his memory.

Publication date:

Inspire 4 Nature: 15 PhD positions open

Join a unique training programme at the interface between academic excellence and the world of international biodiversity conservation organisations!

Publication date:

How $14 billion protected Earth's species

Study involving Dr David Redding shows how billions of dollars of financial investment in global conservation has significantly reduced biodiversity loss.

Publication date:

CBER's contribution to WWF’s conservation technology

CBER’s Rory Gibb and Ella Browning (under Kate Jones’ guidance) wrote and provided guidelines for the World Wildlife Fund on best practice on using the audio and camera trap data. This information is crucial for new researchers or external companies who are investing in such technology or using it to make informed decisions with nature at the forefront. Please visit WWF's website for further information.
WWF is the world’s leading independent conservation organisation.

Publication date: