This sub-theme focuses on the ecological and evolutionary processes that generate and maintain the remarkable diversity of life on Earth, and the human impacts that threaten it.

Our academics, research fellows and PhD students work across spatial scales, from individual forest plots to global patterns, in a range of ecosystems from tundra to tropical islands, and on a wide range of organisms, including plants, invertebrates, marine fish and lizards.



From organisms to ecosystems

We are fascinated by how species interact with their environments and with each other and how these interactions affect ecosystem function and global patterns of biodiversity. We combine a range of approaches, including field work, statistical modelling, and remote sensing. This includes how species evolve on isolated islands and how lianas affect carbon dynamics of tropical forests.

Recent publications

  • Algar A.C. Tarr S. 2018. Fossils, phylogenies, and the evolving climate niche. Nature Ecology & Evolution 2, 414-415.
  • Schrodt F. et al. 2019. Opinion: To advance sustainable stewardship we must document not only biodiversity but geodiversity. PNAS 116 (33) 16155-16158
  • Bruelheide H., Dengler J., Purschke O., Lenoir J., Jiménez-Alfaro B., Hennekens S.M., Botta-Dukát Z., Chytrý M., Field R., Jansen F., Kattge J., Pillar V.D., Schrodt F., et al. (2018): Global trait–environment relationships of plant communities. Nature Ecology and Evolution 2, 1906-1917.

Global change ecology and conservation

We focus on effects of changes in global climate and land use on organisms and ecosystems. This includes research on the effects of deforestation on tropical wildlife, changes in tropical forests, and conservation and management of terrestrial and marine systems. We monitor and model global change impacts on local, regional and global scales, offering fundamental understanding of, and applied solutions for, leading threats to ecological systems.

Recent publications

  • Mariani M., Fletcher M.-S., Haberle S., Chin H., Jacobsen G., Zawadzki A. 2019. Climate change reduces resilience to fire in subalpine rainforests. Global Change Biology, 25, 2030- 2042.
  • van der Heijden G.M.F., Powers J.S., Schnitzer S.A. 2019. Effects of lianas on forest-level tree carbon accumulation does not differ between seasons: results from a liana removal experiment in Panama. Journal of Ecology.
  • Guo W.-Y., Serra-Diaz J. M., Schrodt F. et al. 2020. Half of the world’s tree biodiversity is unprotected and is increasingly threatened by human activities. bioRxiv

Biodiversity, functional biogeography and geodiversity

We study patterns of biodiversity, functional diversity and biogeochemistry. We are especially interested in relationships between functional, phylogenetic and taxonomic diversity and environmental conditions, as well as associated implications for ecosystem structure and functioning (including ecosystem services). Although much of our work focuses on global scales, we also work on tropical forests and freshwaters, and high-altitude and latitude landscapes.

Recent publications

  • Philipson C.D., Cutler M.E.J.,  Brodrick P.G., Asner G.P., Boyd D.S., Costa P.M., Fiddes J., Foody G.M., van der Heijden G.M.F., Ledo A. 2020. Active restoration accelerates the carbon recovery of human-modified tropical forests. Science, 369 6505 838-841.
  • Froufe E., Bolotov I., Aldridge D.C., Bogan A.E., Breton S., Gan H.M., Kovitvadhi U., Kovitvadhi S., Riccardi N., Secci-Petretto G., Sousa R., Teixeira A., Varandas S., Zanatta D., Zieritz A., Fonseca M.M., Lopes-Lima M. 2020. Mesozoic mitogenome rearrangements and freshwater mussel (Bivalvia: Unionoidea) macroevolution. Heredity 124: 182–196.
  • Slik J.W.F. Franklin J., Arroyo-Rodriguez V., Field R. et al. 2018. Phylogenetic classification of the world's tropical forests Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 115(8), 1837-1842.



School of Geography
Sir Clive Granger Building
University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

+44 (0)115 951 5559