After a childhood chasing butterflies and collecting bird’s eggs, Dave studied Biology at Oxford University, and then did a PhD on butterfly ecology at Oxford Brookes University. Shortly afterwards he got a lectureship at University of Southampton, where he stayed for 11 years. It was there that he began to specialise in bumblebee ecology and conservation. In 2006 he became Professor of Biology at Stirling University. In 2006 he also founded the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, a charity devoted to reversing bumblebee declines. In 2013 he moved to Sussex University.
He has published over 200 scientific articles on the ecology of bees and other insects, and am author of Bumblebees; their behaviour, ecology and conservation (2010, Oxford University Press) and A Sting in the Tale (2013, Jonathan Cape), a popular science book about bumblebees.
He is a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. In 2010 he was BBSRC "Social Innovator of the Year" and in 2013 he won the Marsh Award for Conservation Biology from the Zoological Society of London.