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David Williams

David Williams

Research Associate

Room 3.01 David Attenborough Building
Office Phone: 01223 (3)36670


I studied Zoology at Cambridge as an undergraduate, before taking an MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management in the Oxford School of Geography and the Environment. I returned to Cambridge to work with Bill Sutherland on the Conservation Evidence project, writing a book to collect and synthesise evidence for the effects of different bird conservation interventions. 

I started my PhD in January 2012 (described below).

Research Group

Conservation Science Group:
PhD Candidate

Research Interests

I am interested in the challenges of conserving biodiversity in the face of a growing global population and ever-increasing per capita consumption. Human consumption is only going to grow in the next few decades and that conservationists and policy makers need to make plans to cope with this increasing demand. For my PhD, which I started in January 2012 under the supervision of Andrew Balmford I am investigating the balance between food production, biodiversity and ecosystem services in pastoral systems in Yucatan, Mexico, and ask whether projected demands for beef and other products are best met through a relatively small area of intensive farmland, or larger areas of less intensive production. I work with Dr. Francisco Galindo and colleagues at Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, as well Dr. Federico Escobar and Fredy Alvarado at Inecol, Xalapa, and our findings will hopefully feed into agricultural and conservation policy in Mexico.

I am also interested in long-term ecology and the historical impacts of humans, for example, the debate on the causes of the Quaternary megafaunal extinctions and historical declines in fisheries.

Key Publications

Phalan, B., Green, R., Dicks, L., Dotta, G., Feniuk, C., Lamb, A., Strassburg, B., Williams, D.R., zu Ermgassen, E., Balmford, A. (In review) How could high-yield farming make space for nature? Science

Williams, D.R, Child, M.F., Dicks, L.V., Ockendon, N., Pople, R.G., Showler, D.A., Walsh, J.C., zu Ermgassen, E.K.H.J., Sutherland, W.J. (2015) Bird Conservation. In: Sutherland, W.J., Dicks, L.V., Ockendon, N., Smith, R.K. (eds.) What works in conservation, Open Book Publishers (Cambridge, UK), 96-244

Dicks, L.V., Ashpole, J.E., Dänhardt, J., James, K., Jönsson, A, Randall, N., Showler, D.A., Smith, R.K., Turpie, S., Williams, D.R, Sutherland, W.J. (2015) Farmland Conservation. In: Sutherland, W.J., Dicks, L.V., Ockendon, N., Smith, R.K. (eds.) What works in conservation, Open Book Publishers (Cambridge, UK), 245-284

Murray, H. J., Green, E. J., Williams, D. R., Burfield, I. J., & Brooke, M. de L. (2015). Is research effort associated with the conservation status of European bird species? Endangered Species Research, 27, 193-206

zu Ermgassen E.K.H.J., Williams, D.R., & Balmford,A. (2014). Livestock: tackle demand and yields. Nature, 508 (7495), 186

Dicks, L.V. Ashpole J.E., Dänhardt J., James K., Jönsson A.M., Randall N., Showler D.A., Smith R.K., Turpie S., Williams D., Sutherland W.J. (2014) Farmland Conservation: Evidence for the Effects of Interventions in Northern and Western Europe, Pelagic Publishing (Exeter) 

Williams, D.R., Pople, R.G., Showler, D.A., Dicks, L.V., Child, M.F., zu Ermgassen, E.K.H.J., Sutherland, W.J. (2013) Bird Conservation: Global Evidence for the Effects of Interventions, Pelagic Publishing (Exeter)

Other Publications

Bartlett, L., Williams, D.R.; Prescott, G., Green, R., Balmford, A., Eriksson, A., Valdes, P., Singarayer, J., Manica, A. (In review) Robustness despite uncertainty: regional climate data reveal the dominant role of humans in explaining global extinctions of Late Quaternary megafauna Ecography

Prescott G.W.*, Williams D.R.*, Balmford A., Green R.E., & Manica A. (2012). Quantitative global analysis of the role of climate and people in explaining late Quaternary megafaunal extinctions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109(12)

Prescott G.W.*, Williams D.R.*, Balmford A., Green R.E., Manica A. (2012) Reply to Lima-Ribeiro et al.: Human arrival scenarios have little influence on interpretations of late Quaternary megafaunal extinctions. PNAS 109:E2411-2412