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Benno Simmons

Benno Simmons

PhD Candidate

Room 3.01 David Attenborough Building
Office Phone: 01223 (7)69018


Before starting my PhD in 2015, I read Geography at the University of Oxford, graduating in 2011. My final year dissertation examined the outcome for biodiversity of a hypothetical geoconservation network that prioritised geodiverse landscapes in the United Kingdom. I next studied for an MRes in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Research at Imperial College London, where I completed two theses, one examining the vulnerability of biodiversity hotspots to land-use change, and a second assessing the effectiveness of the UK protected area network in promoting the long-term persistence of biodiversity.

Research Group

Conservation Science Group:
PhD Candidate

Research Interests

Broadly, I am interested in the application of computational and statistical techniques to preventing biodiversity loss. My specific research interests include ecological networks; conservation planning; protected areas; macroecology; and how best to reconcile farming and conservation, though almost any topic related to biodiversity conservation is of at least some interest to me.

My PhD is investigating the importance of pollinators for wild plant communities. Pollination is a key ecosystem service of ecological and economic importance. Documented declines in insect pollinators and a range of ongoing threats to them have given pollination a very high profile in environmental policy. The importance of animal pollinators for crop production has been well characterised and evaluated. By contrast, their global importance for wild plants has not been rigorously examined, although it is widely acknowledged as a key element of the value of pollination. My project aims to fill this knowledge gap using a wide-variety of methods (including meta-analysis, network analysis, genetic algorithms, mathematical modelling and GIS) to assess the vulnerability of natural plant communities to declines in their animal pollinators globally.

My PhD is funded by a NERC studentship as part of the Cambridge Earth System Science DTP. My supervisors are Professor William Sutherland and Dr Lynn Dicks.

Key Publications

Newbold, T., Hudson, L. N., Arnell, A. P., Contu, S., De Palma, A., Ferrier, S., Hill, S. L. L., Hoskins, A. J., Lysenko, I., Phillips, H. R. P., Burton, V. J., Chng, C. W. T., Emerson, S., Gao, D., Pask-Hale, G., Hutton, J., Jung, M., Sanchez-Ortiz, K., Simmons, B. I., Whitmee, S., Zhang, H., Scharlemann, J. P. W., Purvis, A. (2016). Has land use pushed terrestrial biodiversity beyond the planetary boundary? A global assessment. Science, 353(6296), pp. 288-291.

Gray, C. L.*, Simmons, B. I.*, Fayle, T. M., Mann, D. J. and Slade, E. M. (2016). Are riparian forest reserves sources of invertebrate biodiversity spillover and associated ecosystem functions in oil palm landscapes? Biological Conservation, 194, 176-183.
* Joint first authors