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Benno Simmons

Benno Simmons

PhD Student


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 Interests

I study the structure of complex ecological networks and develop new tools to do so. Specifically, I am studying networks of mutualistic interactions between species. These are interactions which are mutually beneficial to both species, such as pollination or seed dispersal. For example, in seed dispersal, a bird benefits from the berries which it consumes as food, while the plant benefits from having its seeds dispersed for reproduction. These mutualisms are essential for the maintenance of biodiversity and are a fundamental component of most ecosystems. For further details on my research, please see my publications listed below.

I am 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


Simmons, B. I., Vizentin-Bugoni, J., Maruyama, P. K., Cotton, P. A., Marín-Gómez, O. H., Lara, C., Lasprilla, L. R., Maglianesi, M. A., Ortiz-Pulido, R., Rocca, M. A., Rodrigues, L. C., Tinoco, B., Vasconcelos, M. F., Sazima, M., Martín González, A. M., Sonne, J., Rahbek, C., Dicks, L. V., Dalsgaard, B., Sutherland, W. J. Abundance drives generalisation in hummingbird-plant pollination networks. bioRxiv. doi: 10.1101/339762

Simmons, B. I., Cirtwill A. R., Baker, N. J., Stouffer, D. B., Dicks, L. V. and Sutherland W. J. Uncovering indirect interactions in bipartite ecological networks. bioRxiv, doi: 10.1101/302356

Simmons, B. I., Sweering, M. J. M., Dicks, L. V., Sutherland, W. J. and Di Clemente, R. bmotif: a package for counting motifs in bipartite networks. bioRxiv, doi: 10.1101/302356

In press

Jucker, T., Wintle, B., Shackelford, G., Bocquillon, P., Geffert, J. L., Kasoar, T., Jovacs, E., Mumby, H. S., Orland, C., Schleicher, J., Tew, E., Zabala, A., Amano, T., Bell, A., Bongalov, B., Chambers, J. M., Corrigan, C., Durán, A. P., Duvic-Paoli, L-A., Emilson, C., da Silva, J. F., Garnett, E. E., Green, E. J., Guth, M. K., Hacket-Pain, A., Hinsley, A., Igea, J., Kunz, M., Luke, S. H., Lynam, W., Martin, P. A., Nunes, M. H., Ockendon, N., Pavitt, A., Payne, C. L. R., Plutshack, V., Rademacher, T., Robertson, R. J., Rose, D. C., Serban, A., Simmons, B. I., Szkokan-Emilson, E. J., Tayleur, C., Wordley, C. and Mukherjee, N. A ten year assessment of the 100 priority questions for global biodiversity conservation. Conservation Biology (in press)

Rose, D. C., Sutherland, W. J., Amano, T., González‐Varo, J. P., Robertson, R. J., Simmons, B. I., Wauchope, H. S., Kovacs, E., Durán, A. P., Vadrot, A. B., Wu, W., Dias, M. P., Di Fonzo, M. M., Ivory, S., Norris, L., Nunes, M. H., Nyumba, T. O., Steiner, N., Vickery, J. and Mukherjee, N. The major barriers to evidence‐informed conservation policy and possible solutions. Conservation Letters. (in press)

Rose, D. C., Mukherjee, N., Simmons, B. I., Tew, E. R., Robertson, R. J., Vadrot, A. B. M., Doubleday, R. and Sutherland, W. J. Policy windows for the environment: Tips for improving the uptake of scientific knowledge. Environmental Science and Policy. (in press)


Simmons, B. I., Sutherland W. J., Dicks, L. V., Albrecht, J., Farwig, N., García, D., Jordano, P. and González-Varo, J. P. Moving from frugivory to seed dispersal: incorporating the functional outcomes of interactions in plant-frugivore networks. Journal of Animal Ecology, 87, 995–1007.

Dalsgaard, B., Kennedy, J., Simmons, B. I., Baquero, A., González, A. M. M., Timmermann, A., McGuire, J. A., Ollerton, J., Sutherland, W. J. and Rahbek, C. (2018). Trait evolution, nectar-feeding specialization and vulnerability to plant extinctions among hummingbirds on Antillean islands: the role of mountains and plant richness. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 285, 20172754.

Ratto, F., Simmons, B. I., Spake, R., Gutierrez, V. Z., McDonald, M., Merriman, J. C., Poppy, G. M., Peh, K. S.-H. and Dicks, L. V. (2018). Global importance of vertebrate pollinators for plant reproductive success: a meta-analysis. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 16(2), 82-90.


Hudson, L. N., Newbold, T., Contu, S., Hill, S. L. L., Lysenko, I., De Palma, A., Phillips, H. R. P., Alhusseini, T. I., Bedford, F. E., Bennett, D. J., Booth, H., Burton, V. J., Chng, C. W. T., Choimes, A., Correia, D. L. P., Day, J., Echeverría-Londoño, S., Emerson, S. R., Gao, D., Garon, M., Harrison, M. L. K., Ingram, D. J., Jung, M., Kemp, V., Kirkpatrick, L., Martin, C. D., Pan, Y., Pask-Hale, G. D., Pynegar, E. L., Robinson A. N., Sanchez-Ortiz, K., Senior, R. A., Simmons, B. I. et al. (2017). The database of the PREDICTS (Projecting Responses of Ecological Diversity In Changing Terrestrial Systems) Project. Ecology and Evolution, 7, 145-188.


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