Welcome to my personal blog!  I’m Professor of Biodiversity in the Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences at the University of Northampton.  I have broad research and teaching interests in the ecology, evolution and conservation of the Earth’s biodiversity.  Within this vast field I work mainly (though not exclusively) on plant-pollinator relationships, pollinator diversity, plant reproductive biology, and the evolution of flowers.  Field work to support this research has been conducted across Europe, Africa, South America and Australia.  Received my PhD in plant reproductive ecology in 1993 from Oxford Brookes University, and have lived and worked in Northampton since 1995. 

As you will see from the range of articles and research papers that I publish, however, I also have interests beyond pollination ecology, addressing wider questions related to how we conserve biodiversity within a rapidly changing environment. This is also reflected in the research and writing I do within the area of the history of human understanding and exploitation of biodiversity, specifically botanical science and horticultural exploration.

As well as the formal academic side of my work, I have acted as consultant for a number of BBC programmes and cinema documentaries, and regularly give talks to local natural history, gardening and other special interest societies.  Please contact me if you’d like me to give a talk to your group.

The entries in this blog reflect my own opinions and ideas relating to the very broad concept of biodiversity.  They benefit enormously from conversations with colleagues, friends and family, particularly my wife and sounding board Karin Blak.

22 responses to “About

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  2. emma ruthen

    Hi, I read about ‘Pollinator awareness week ‘ with great joy. I live in the SW of France and for the last four years have been running a small plant nursery just for pollinator friendly plants. I set this up for two reasons , the first being my love of insects and growing plants but mainly to try and educate gardeners and the public that they must take some responsibility for what they introduce and grow in their own gardens and the impact this can have on the environment as a whole. Trying to persuade a public that planting a diversity of plants that flower across the whole year and not just a monocrop of sterile hybrids is the way forward has been and still is my biggest challenge. Many of the big garden centers are to blame creating a blandness of plants available to the general public with no thought to a regions specific climate or insects need . I work alongside beekeepers and other groups but would love to set up a full educational gardencentre . A girl can dream! I am not even going to mention chemicals in this email or I will still be ranting next week.
    I shall be following the week with interest.
    Emma Le Jardin d’Emma

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Michele Welborn

    Hello Jeff
    I’m an MK Nat Hist Soc member, and also on the Committee of the Friends of Linford Lakes Natures Reserve (was Hanson Environmental Study Centre) in Gt Linford, MK. FoLLNR have a 200+ membership. We have Open Sundays on the 3rd Sunday of every month, a Saturday Open Day every so often, and some special evening events with speakers. Can I have an email address from you, as I’d like to discuss the possiblity of talking to us. Thanks, Michele (michelewelborn@homecall.co.uk)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Israr Sheikh

    Jeff, your blogs are amazing. I only started looking at them this week, after first meeting you on Saturday, Umbrella Festival, at the Racecourse.
    I hope to visit them regularly.
    Regards, Israr

    Liked by 1 person

  5. pam charnigo

    Professor I have been trying to send an email to you at your Northhampton email,without success . I am an after school teacher in the US and I was wondering if I would be able to speak to you regarding a project of mine?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Jeff,

    I just read a piece on the Small Things Considered blog, about the spread of Xylella fastidiosa bacteria into Europe, and the devastating effect it is having on Italian olive groves. There has apparently been a stand off between conservationists and the EU over their drastic plans to prevent the spread of the disease, which meant destroying affected ancient trees; but, in a video linked in the blog, an Italian expert is teaching that all the understory of herbs must be removed, and the soil ploughed up, in these ancient orchards, in an attempt to control the sucking insects. I’m afraid that this sounds like a recipe for making an even bigger disaster to me. I’m not a scientist, but I have been reading it long enough to see another short sighted ‘solution’ in the making.

    Here’s my comment on the blog:

    “But surely, removing all the ground cover plants from these complex orchard ecosystems of thousands of years is going to be as disastrous as losing the trees! What about all the beneficial insects; birds; worms; hedgehogs; butterflies, and Heaven knows what else?! They will very likely find that removing the ground cover just leaves the trees open to be killed by something else, that the ground cover was keeping in check. And what about conserving the soil for goodness sake? We were only supposed to have enough soil for 60 harvests several years ago: now they want to increase run off even more by ploughing up ancient orchard swards! Surely this is a crazy idea that they have not thought through at all! 😦

    They say the problem is that the plant hoppers move onto the trees when the herbage below dries out in the Summer, and then they move back for the next lot of herbs when the rains come. So surely what they need is to add succulent plants like crassulas and purslane to get the ground cover through the dry gap and give the insects another sap source that is more attractive than the trees? There must also be predatory insects, lizards, and birds they can encourage too. Surely they should try this first before trashing a whole ancient ecosystem in a vain attempt to save just one of its components?

    I’m not an expert on the ground, but honestly, this looks like they may be making a bad situation much worse. If they lose the soil their orchards are going to be bare rock after the trees have gone! I can’t believe that guy tells them to plough ancient swards! Especially when we’re just trying to save pollinating insects and soils!!!”

    Am I right? Have you been discussing this coming plague in pollinator circles? Should the Italians be getting better advice?

    Thought I’d better pass it on to you in case it really is going to make things worse.

    All the best,

    Steve Hawkins



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  9. Hi, I writing you to ask if there is a deadline for registration or abstract submission to the annual SCAPE meeting this year?.
    And, congratulation for this amazing blog 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Mau! The registration details are usually circulated during the early summer. If you are on Facebook, join the SCAPE group there. Otherwise send me an email and I will put you in touch with this year’s organisers. Jeff


      • Thank you so much for the super quick answer. I will be attent to the news on facebook during this summer or I will bother you via email to know more about this meeting. Since I would love to participate this year!
        Have a great week

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Michael Burton

    I’m related to Captain sir Richard Francis Burton, and would like to know a little more about him. I have ADHD and it’s hard to read so maybe you can help.

    Liked by 1 person

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  12. Peter Cuthbert

    Hi ,i have being observing for some years plants which pollinators like as opposed to what books say they like.information provided to Dr Una Fitzpatrick National Biodiversity Data Centre
    Peter Cuthbert BSc Agr (Hort)
    Looking forward to your book

    Liked by 1 person

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