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Professor William Sutherland CBE


Subject: Natural Sciences

I am interested in applying ecological data and models to understand conservation problems. This may involve field work, use of existing data or purely theoretical problems. I am especially interested in bird population ecology as well as the impacts of agriculture of biodiversity. I have recently become intrigued by understanding how decisions are made. This has involved horizon scanning to identify future issues, collation of evidence to determine which interventions are effective and then a rigorous means of weighting the evidence to guide policy and practice.
Environment Fellow
Miriam Rothschild Professor of Conservation Biology
Professor Bill Sutherland holds the Miriam Rothschild Chair of Conservation Biology in the Zoology Department and is a professorial Fellow in the College. He has written seven books and edited another five. He started as a birdwatcher and his main research interest has been in combining field observations of behaviour with theoretical models to predict the consequences of environmental change, such as changes in agricultural practice and climate change. His main current interests involve collaborating with policy makers to improve global conservation practice. This includes identifying environmental issues that have attracted insufficient attention using horizon scanning, collaborating with practitioners to identify the key knowledge gaps and establishing evidence-based conservation as a standard approach. He regularly provides advice to government and practitioners.
He teaches ecology and conservation biology.  He also teaches on the Masters in Public Policy and Masters in Conservation Leadership courses.
  • Sutherland, W.J. & Burgmann, M. (2015). Use experts wisely. Nature 526: 317-318.
  • Kennicutt II, M.C., Chown, S.L., Cassano, J.J., Liggett, D., Massom, R., Peck, L.S., Rintoul, S.R., Storey, J.W.V., Vaughan, D.G, Wilson, T.J. & Sutherland, W.J. (2014) Six priorities for Antarctic science. Nature 512, 23-25
  • Sutherland, W.J. 2013. Review by quality not quantity for better policy. Nature 503: 167.
  • Amano, T., Sandel, B., Eager, H., Bulteau, E., Svenning, J-C., Dalsgaard, B., Rahbek, C., Davies, R.G. & Sutherland, W.J. (2014) Global distribution and drivers of language extinction risk. Proceedings Royal Society Series B. 280, (1793), 20141574
  • Sutherland, W.J., Spiegelhalter, D. & Burgman, M. (2013) Twenty tips for interpreting scientific claims. Nature 503, 335–337
  • Amano, T. & Sutherland, W .J. (2013). Four barriers to the global understanding of biodiversity conservation: wealth, language, geographical location and security. Proceedings B 280, 1756
2021 Commander of the British Empire for services to Evidence-based Conservation; 2019 Honorary Member British Ecological Society; 2016-2019 ISI Highly Cited Researcher; 2015 University of East Anglia established the ‘UEA Bill Sutherland Scholarship in Conservation Biology; 2013-2015 President British Ecological Society; 2013 Society for Conservation Biology Distinguished Service Award; 2013 The Sir John Burnett Memorial Lecture Medal; 2012 Ecological Engagement Award, British Ecological Society; 2005 Marsh Award for Conservation Biology; 2001 Marsh Award for Ecology; 1997 Scientific Medal, Zoological Society London.