Professor of Evolutionary Biology, University of York

Chris and his research group are interested in understanding how humans have transformed the biological world, and how humans might protect the world’s remaining biodiversity. His research and scientific publications fall into three main areas:

Why and how species respond to climate change:
Chris was the first to estimate how climate change might endanger biodiversity at a global scale. His research group has provided evidence that species move their geographic distributions as the climate changes (YouTube interview), and they are currently evaluating distribution changes and evolution in species that are responding to climate change.

Why some species decline and disappear, but others are successful:
Chris is interested in how climate change, land use change (habitat fragmentation), the arrival of non-native species (invasions) and persecution (hunting) alter the distributions of species, aiming to quantify gains in diversity as well as losses. Chris carries out research on the ecological and evolutionary rules that underpin gains in biological diversity; a radio interview with Chris Thomas describes some of the biodiversity gains that have taken place in the Anthropocene.

Conservation strategies for a dynamic world:
Chris has had strong influence on the development of policy and practical conservation strategies in the areas of climate change and habitat fragmentation. Conservation has historically attempted to reduce or halt biological change, but this approach is not viable during a period of rapid environmental change. Chris and his group develop conservation strategies (including the benefits of connected landscapes, and moving species where required) that will enable species to survive climate change, biological invasions, and other environmental challenges.

Experience

  • –present
    Professor of Evolutionary Ecology, University of York