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Conservation Research Institute



I was an undergraduate in Zoology in Cambridge and did a PhD on the foraging ecology of agricultural pests in the Applied Biology department in Cambridge. After postdoctoral research on gamebirds at the Game Conservancy, I joined the Research Department of the RSPB to work on bird conservation problems. In 1999 I was seconded by the RSPB to work in the Zoology department at the University of Cambridge where I help to run the Conservation Science Group. I retired from the RSPB in 2017, but continue to research conservation problems in Zoology.


I study the effects of human activities on populations of wild species.  This includes effects on population size and demographic rates of agriculture, game management, habitat change, climate change, pollution and deliberate and accidental killing.  I use statistical and simulation models fitted to data on these effects to devise practical interventions that land managers can use to reduce negative effects on wild species so as to improve their conservation status.  For more than thirty years, a large part of my research work for the RSPB was focussed on how farming methods could be adapted to allow wild species living on farmland to do better and be more likely to have high populations alongside food production.  Often doing this involves the farms producing a bit less food than they would do otherwise. More recently, I have realised that it might also be important to produce the food and the other agricultural products that people require on as little land as possible, and to use as much of the spared land as possible for large blocks of the natural habitats that many wild species need. This conflict, between modifying farming methods so as to share farmland with wild species, but by doing so potentially placing species that need large tracts of natural habitats at greater risk, is a real personal dilemma for me.  With Andrew Balmford and Ben Phalan, I have set up a research programme to collect hard evidence about whether the dilemma really exists and, if it does, how it can be resolved. I am closely involved in the Cambridge Conservation Initiative; and with Andrew Balmford, Rosie Trevelyan and Shireen Green run the annual Student Conference on Conservation Science.


Key publications: 

Pearce-Higgins, J.W. & Green, R.E. 2014. Birds and climate change: impacts and conservation responses. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Phalan, B., Onial, M., Balmford, A. & Green, R.E. 2011. Reconciling food production and biodiversity conservation: Land sharing and land sparing comparedScience 333: 1289–1291.

Gregory, R.D., Willis, S.G., Jiguet, F., Voříšek, P., Klvaňová, A., van Strien, A., Huntley, B., Collingham, Y.C., Couvet, D. & Green, R.E. 2009. An indicator of the impact of climatic change on European bird populations. PLoS ONE 4: e4678. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0004678

Green, R.E., Hunt, W.G., Parish, C.N. & Newton, I. 2008. Effectiveness of action to reduce exposure of free-ranging California condors in Arizona and Utah to lead from spent ammunition. PLoS ONE 3: e4022. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0004022

Huntley, B., Green, R.E., Collingham, Y.C. & Willis, S.G. 2007. A Climatic Atlas of European Breeding Birds. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

Honorary Professor of Conservation Science
Professor Rhys  Green

Contact Details

Room 3.02, David Attenborough Building, Pembroke Street
01223 (7)62840