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Centre for Ecology, Environment and Sustainability

Centre for Ecology, Environment and Sustainability

We aim to undertake internationally recognised research on environmental change and its impacts on biodiversity, and solutions to protect the environment. In addition we aim to be a leading provider of education and training in environmental science.

We are a multi-disciplinary research team of geographers, environmental scientists and ecologists. Specialist interests include remote sensing, the ecology of birds, fish, invertebrates, mammals and plants, in terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments. 

Our research is designed to support effective policy development and implementation, and we have strong links with conservation practitioners and policy makers locally, regionally and internationally.

We pride ourselves on research that makes a real difference to the world around us. We believe that research, education and professional practice belong together with each shaping and informing the other. Discover how a selection of Centre for Ecology, Environment and Sustainability research projects, led by BU staff, students and external collaborators, are making a positive impact on society.

Affiliated Research Institutes

Institute Studies Landscape Human Evolution hero

Institute for Studies in Landscape & Human Evolution

Our research is focused on tackling these questions from a landscape based perspective, integrating palaeoanthropology, ecology, remote sensing of modern analogues and both earth and computer science. We are collaborating with computer animators to bring our science alive in the imaginations of both scientific and non-scientific audiences.

Our research areas

Image of a power station

Strategic Threats Research Group

Logo for Individual Ecology Research Group

Individual Ecology - Individual based models

Logo for Landscape ecology and primatology research group

Landscape Ecology and Primatology Research Group

A bib, feeding in Poole Bay

Temperate Reefs Research Group

Key recent publications from the centre:


Newton A.C. 2021. Ecosystem Collapse and Recovery. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Esteban, G.F. and Fenchel, T.M., 2020. Ecology of Protozoa: the biology of free-living phagotrophic protists. Second edition. London: Springer Nature 


Brown, S. and Stillman, R.A., 2021. Evidence-based conservation in a changing world: lessons from waterbird individual-based models. Ecosphere. in press

García-Rodríguez, O., Hardouin, E.A., Hambleton, E., Monteith, J., Randall, C., Richards, M.B., Edwards, C.J. and Stewart, J.R., 2021. Ancient mitochondrial DNA connects house mice in the British Isles to trade across Europe over three millennia. BMC Ecology and Evolution, 21(1), pp.1-9.

Williams, K.A., Slater, H.D., Gillingham, P. and Korstjens, A.H., 2021. Environmental factors are stronger predictors of primate species’ distributions than basic biological traits. International Journal of Primatology. in press.

Nicholls, R.J., Lincke, D., Hinkel, J., Brown, S., Vafeidis, A.T., Meyssignac, B., Hanson, S., Merkens, J. and Fang, J., 2021. A global analysis of subsidence, relative sea-level change and coastal flood exposure. Nature Climate Change.

Kearney, M.R., Gillingham, P.K., Bramer, I., Duffy, J.P. and Maclean, I.M., 2020. A method for computing hourly, historical, terrain‐corrected microclimate anywhere on Earth. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 11(1), pp.38-43.

Lewis, W.H., Lind, A.E., Sendra, K.M., Onsbring, H., Williams, T.A., Esteban, G.F., Hirt, R.P., Ettema, T.J.G. and Embley, T.M., 2020. Convergent evolution of hydrogenosomes from mitochondria by gene transfer and loss. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 37 (2),pp. 524–539.

Stafford, R., Croker, A.R., Rivers, E.M., Cantarello, E., Costelloe, B., Ginige, T., Sokolnicki, J., Kang, K., Jones, P.J., McKinley, E. and Shiel, C., 2020. Evaluating optimal solutions to environmental breakdown. Environmental Science & Policy, 112, pp.340-347.

Schuerch, M., Spencer, T., Temmerman, S., Kirwan, M.L., Wolff, C., Lincke, D., McOwen, C.J., Pickering, M.D., Reef, R., Vafeidis, A.T. and Hinkel, J., Nichols, R.J., Brown S. 2018. Future response of global coastal wetlands to sea-level rise. Nature, 561(7722), pp.231-234.

Sheath, D.J., Dick, J.T., Dickey, J.W., Guo, Z., Andreou, D. and Britton, J.R., 2018. Winning the arms race: host–parasite shared evolutionary history reduces infection risks in fish final hosts. Biology Letters, 14(7), p.20180363.

Lagerholm, V.K., Sandoval‐Castellanos, E., Vaniscotte, A., Potapova, O.R., Tomek, T., Bochenski, Z.M., Shepherd, P., Barton, N., Van Dyck, ‎.‐C., Miller, R., Höglund, Yoccoz, N.G., Dalén, L. and Stewart, J.R. (2017), Range shifts or extinction? Ancient DNA and distribution modelling reveal past and future responses to climate warming in cold‐adapted birds. Global Change Biology, 23, 1425-1435.

Martin, P.A., Newton, A.C. and Bullock, J.M. 2017. Impacts of invasive plants on carbon pools depend on both species’ traits and local climate. Ecology, 98: 1026-1035.

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