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Conservation Research Institute



My work is in evidence-based conservation, which focuses on summarising and disseminating scientific evidence about the effects of conservation interventions for habitats and species.  I manage the Conservation Evidence project, which provides accessible information to enhance decision making for more effective conservation management.

I produced the synopsis of global evidence for the effects of conservation interventions for amphibians and contributed to the Farmland Conservation synopsis. I now oversee the production of all synopses of evidence.  These are available as a searchable database, downloadable pdfs and as books on the Conservation Evidence website.  Summarized evidence is assessed by experts and published in 'What Works in Conservation'. I have also completed a systematic review investigating the effectiveness of predator control for enhancing bird populations.



Previously my research focussed on population monitoring and ecological studies relating to conservation issues and resulting in the development of management strategies for declining and endangered species, particularly mammals.  My work included managing a Darwin Initiative project Capacity building in mammal management for Western Cape nature reserves.  I have also worked as a Senior Ecological Consultant in the UK.  I completed my doctorate and undergraduate degree at the University of Bristol and a Masters degree in Applied Ecology and Conservation at the University of East Anglia.


Key publications: 

Sutherland, W.J., Taylor, N.G., MacFarlane, D., Amano, T., Christie, A.P., Dicks, L.V., Lemasson, A.J., Littlewood, N.A., Martin, P.A., Ockendon, N., Petrovan, S.O., Robertson, R.J., Rocha, R., Shackelford, G.E., Smith, R.K., Tyler, E.H.M., & Wordley, C.F.R. (2019) Building a tool to overcome barriers in the research-implementation space: the Conservation Evidence database. Biological Conservation, 238, 108199.

Sutherland, W.J., Dicks, L.V., Ockendon, N., Petrovan, S.O. & Smith, R.K. (2019). What Works in Conservation 2019. Cambridge, UK: Open Book Publishers.

Taylor, N.G., Grillas, P., Fennessy, M.S., Goodyer, E., Graham, L.L.B., Karofeld, E., Lindsay, R.A., Locky, D.A., Ockendon, N., Rial, A., Ross, S., Smith, R.K., van Diggelen, R., Whinam, J. & Sutherland, W.J. (2019) A synthesis of evidence for the effects of interventions to conserve peatland vegetation: overview and critical discussion. Mires and Peat, 24, 1-21.

Sutherland, W.J., Dicks, L.V., Ockendon, N., Petrovan, S.O. & Smith, R.K. (2018). What Works in Conservation 2018. Cambridge, UK: Open Book Publishers.

Petrovan, S.O., Junker, J, Wordley, C.F.R., Kühl, H.S., Orth, L., Smith, R.K. & Sutherland, W.J. (2018) Evidence-Based Synopsis of Interventions, a New Tool in Primate Conservation and Research. International Journal of Primatology, 39, 1-4.

Martin, P.A., Rocha, R., Smith, R.K., & Sutherland, W.J. (2017) Shrubland and Heathland Conservation: Global evidence for the effects of interventions. University of Cambridge, 158 pp.

Junker, J., Kühl, H.S., Orth, L., Smith, R.K., Petrovan, S.O. and Sutherland, W.J. (2017) Primate Conservation: Global evidence for the effects of interventions. University of Cambridge, 255 pp.

Jonas, C.S., Bowkett, A.E. and Smith, R.K. (2017) Management of Captive Animals: Global Evidence for the Effects of Interventions.University of Cambridge, Cambridge.

Sutherland, W.J., Dicks, L.V., Ockendon, N. & Smith, R.K. (2017). What Works in Conservation 2017. Cambridge, UK: Open Book Publishers.

McCormack, C.G.,  Born, W., Irvine, P.J., Achterberg, E.P., Amano, T., Ardron, J., Foster, P.N., Gattuso, J-P., Hawkins, S.J., Hendy, E., Kissling, W.D., Lluch-Cota, S.E., Murphy, E.J., Ostle, N., Owens, N.J.P., Perry, R.I., Pörtner, H.O., Scholes, R.J.,  Schurr, F.M., Schweiger, O., Settele, J., Smith, R.K., Smith, S., Thompson, J., Tittensor, D.P., van Kleunen, M., Vivian, C., Vohland, K., Warren, R., Watkinson, A.R., Widdicombe, S., Williamson, P., Woods, E., Blackstock, J.J. & Sutherland, W.J. (2016). Key impacts of climate engineering on biodiversity and ecosystems, with priorities for future research. Journal of Integrative Environmental Sciences, 13:2–4, 103–128. DOI: 10.1080/1943815X.2016.1159578

Aldridge, D.C., Aldridge, S.L., Mead, A., Ockendon, N., Rocha, R., Scales, H., Smith, R.K., Zieritz, A. & Sutherland, W.J. (2015) Control of freshwater invasive species: global evidence for the effects of selected interventions. University of Cambridge, UK.

Sutherland, W.J., Dicks, L.V., Ockendon, N., and Smith, R.K. (2015) What Works in Conservation. Cambridge, UK: Open Book Publishers. http://dx.doi. org/10.11647/OBP.0060

Dicks, L.V., Hodge, I., Randall, N., Scharlemann, J.P.W., Siriwardena, G.M., Smith, H.G., Smith, R.K. & Sutherland, W.J. (2014) A transparent process for ‘evidence-informed’ policy making. Conservation Letters, 7, 119-125.

Smith, R.K. & Sutherland, W.J. (2014) Amphibian Conservation: Global evidence for the effects of interventions. Pelagic Publishing, Exeter. 279 pp.

Smith, R.K., Dicks, L.V., Mitchell, R. & Sutherland, W.J. (2014) Comparative effectiveness research: the missing link in conservation. Conservation Evidence, 11, 2-6.

Sutherland, W.J., Aveling, R., Brooks, T., Clout, M., Dicks, L.V., Fellman, L., Fleishman, E., Gibbons, D.W., Keim, B., Lickorish, F., Monk, K.A., Mortimer, D., Peck, L.S., Pretty, J., Rockström, J., Rodriguez, J.P., Smith, R.K., Spalding, M.D., Tonneijck, F.H. & Watkinson, A.R. (2014) Horizon Scan of Global Conservation Issues for 2014. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 29,15-22. 

Dicks, L. V., Ashpole, J.E., Dänhardt, J., James, K., Jönsson, A., Randall, N., Showler, D. A., Smith, R. K., Turpie, S., Williams, D. & Sutherland, W. J. (2013) Farmland Conservation: Evidence for the effects of interventions in northern Europe. Pelagic Publishing, Exeter. 504 pp.

Smith, R.K., Pullin, A.S., Stewart, G.B. and Sutherland, W.J. (2011) Is nest predator exclusion an effective strategy for enhancing bird populations? Biological Conservation, 144,1–10.

Smith, R.K., Ryan, E., Morley, E. and Hill, R.A. (2011) Resolving management conflicts: could agricultural land provide the answer for an endangered species in a habitat classified as a World Heritage Site? Environmental Conservation, 38, 325-333.

Smith, R.K., Pullin, A.S., Stewart, G.B. and Sutherland, W.J. (2010) The effectiveness of predator removal for enhancing bird populations: a systematic review.  Conservation Biology, 24, 820-829.

Smith, R.K., Pullin, A.S., Stewart, G.B. and Sutherland, W.J. (2009) Is Predator Control an Effective Strategy for Enhancing Bird Populations? Systematic Review No. 38,

Smith, R.K., Marais, A., Chadwick, P., Lloyd, P.H. and Hill, R.A. (2008) Monitoring and management of the endangered Cape mountain zebra Equus zebra zebra in the Western Cape, South Africa. African Journal of Ecology, 46, 207-213.

Jennings, N.V., Smith, R.K., Hackländer, K., Harris, S. and White, P.C.L. (2006) Variation in demography, condition, and dietary quality of hares Lepus europaeus from high-density and low-density populations. Wildlife Biology, 12, 179-190.

Smith, R.K., Jennings, N.V. and Harris, S. (2005) A quantitative analysis of the abundance and demography of European hares Lepus europaeus in relation to habitat type, intensity of agriculture and climate. Mammal Review, 35, 1-24.

Smith R.K., Jennings, N.V., Tataruch, F., Hackländer, K. and Harris, S. (2005) Vegetation quality and habitat selection by European hares Lepus europaeus in a pastural landscape. Acta Theriologica, 50, 391-404.

Smith, R.K., Jennings, N.V., Robinson, A. and Harris, S. (2004) Conservation of European hares Lepus europaeus in Britain: is increasing habitat heterogeneity in farmland the answer? Journal of Applied Ecology, 41, 1092-1102.

Clutton-Brock, T.H., Brotherton, P.N.M., Smith, R., McIlrath, G.M., Kansky, R., Gaynor, D., O'Riain, M.J. and Skinner, J.D. (1998) Infanticide and expulsion of females in a cooperative mammal. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B Biological Sciences, 265, 2291-2295.

Geographical region

Australasia / Oceania
Central America
Central Asia
East Africa
East Asia
North Africa
North America
North Asia
South America
South Asia
South East Asia
Southern Africa
West Africa
Senior Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Conservation Science Group
Conservation Evidence Manager

Contact Details

Room 3.01, David Attenborough Building, Pembroke Street


Departments and institutes: 
Research keywords: 
Evidence Based Conservation
European Agricultural Areas
Conservation Biology