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Studying organisms across the five kingdoms, find out how our research is helping answer the big questions about past, present and future biodiversity.

Project status

In progress



Two bees perched on purple flowers.
From examining the fossil record to conserving future generations, our biodiversity research explores the ecological, behavioural and life history traits that have emerged from the tree of life.

Biodiversity is crucial for the health of the planet and with it, that of humankind, underpinning the ecosystems that sustain our physical and mental well-being. Understanding and preserving biodiversity is of critical importance to our survival.

Our research addresses three key questions: how and why has biodiversity arisen? How is biodiversity maintained and elaborated? And what are the forces that diminish biodiversity and how can they be mitigated?

All species have a common ancestor and are related on a single tree of life. We study both the processes that generate the structure of this tree and the underlying ecological, behavioural and life history traits that have emerged through this process.

Why are some clades like the arthropods so fantastically diverse, while closely related clades of a similar age contain just a handful of species? Similarly, why do some genes harbour an enormous amount of diversity, while others are largely unchanged over many millennia? How did the immense diversity in mating systems, reproductive behaviour, social behaviour and sex determination systems come into existence via natural and sexual selection? And what can we learn about conserving species and their habitats by addressing these questions?

We investigate organisms across the five kingdoms - archaea, bacteria, fungi, plants and animals - at multiple levels from populations to broad phylogenetic clades. We use a full array of molecular, genomic, morphological, palaeobiological, behavioural and statistical methods. We are also actively involved in conservation initiatives both in the UK and worldwide, supporting the preservation of biodiversity of species and their habitats across the tree of life.

Focus areas

Our research within this domain focusses on:

  • Life history traits, biodiversity and conservation
  • Evolution and maintenance of cooperation in contemporary populations
  • The nature of mass extinctions
  • Macroevolutionary trends in diversity, morphological variety and complexity
  • The role of genome duplications in biodiversity evolution
  • Microbial pathogenicity versus symbiosis
  • The impact of global environmental change and urbanisation on biodiversity
  • Wetlands conservation

Contact us

Get in touch to find out more