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Durham University

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Staff Profile

Professor B. Huntley, BA, MA, PhD

Emeritus Professor in the Department of Biosciences
Leader of Work Package 1 in Tipping Points Research Project
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 41282
Fax: +44 (0) 191 33 41201

Contact Professor B. Huntley (email at


My research investigates the relationships between environmental change and changes in the distributions of organisms, as well as in the composition, structure and dynamics of ecosystems. Interactions between the land surface and the atmosphere, especially biospheric feedbacks to the climate system, are also the subject of my research. A combination of palaeoecological, ecological and biogeographical methods is used in carrying out these investigations; important techniques used include pollen analysis, palaeoclimate reconstruction, modelling of ecological processes and of species distributions, geographical information systems and earth observation.

This research has been supported by grants from various bodies including NERC, NATO and the Leverhulme Trust, as well as by research contracts from the European Commission, WWF and RSPB, inter alia. Current research projects include investigations of: responses of African and European birds to climatic change; development of dynamic models of species' distribution and abundance changes in response to environmental change; the potential effectiveness of protected area networks as a tool for biodiversity conservation in the face of climatic change; the neoglacial climatic transition as a potential 'tipping point' in the climate system; late-Pleistocene vegetation and environmental history in Eurasia and the extinction of the Pleistocene megafauna; the impacts of tephra deposition on vegetation; the landscape-scale impacts of invasion by a canopy-dominant tree, taking the mid-Holocene invasion of the Scottish Highlands by Pinus sylvestris (Scots Pine) as a model system; and the importance of landscape heterogeneity and microclimate in sustaining marginal populations of butterfliesin areas where the regional climate is becoming unfavourable as a result of climatic change.

In 2007 I was invited to act as a consultant to the Council of Europe Bern Convention Group of Experts on Biodiversity and Climate Change and subsequently to become an observer on this group. I have undertaken two studies and provided two reports to the group; most recently I was asked to prepare the group's Work Plan for the next five years, and to present this at the annual meeting of the Standing Committee of the Bern Convention (Strasbourg, December 2015).

In 2008 I was invited to join the Steering Group for the North-East Regional Climate Change and Biodiversity Study.

In March 2009 I was invited by the German government to pariticipate in a High Level Working Group on the 2010 Biodiversity Targets and post-2010 Targets in preparation for the next meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

I was a member of the Working Group that oversaw production of the first and second editions of the Living With Environmental Change "Biodiversity Climate Change Impacts Report Card".

I have been a member of the IUCN Species Survival Commission "Climate Change Specialist Group" since its establishment in 2013.

Research Groups

Department of Biosciences

Research Interests

  • Biogeography
  • Ecology
  • Impacts of environmental change upon organisms and ecosystems
  • Quaternary palaeoecology and palaeoenvironmentals

Selected Publications

Authored book

  • Huntley, B., Green, Rhys E., Collingham, Yvonne C. & Willis, Stephen G. (2007). A climatic atlas of European breeding birds. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions.

Chapter in book

  • B. Huntley (2019). Consequences of climatic change for distributions. In Effects of climate change on birds. Peter O. Dunn & Anders Pape Møller Oxford: Oxford University Press. 165-183.
  • B. Huntley, Y. Collingham, S. Willis & D. Hole (2012). Protected Areas and Climatic Change in Europe: Introduction. In Natura 2000 and Climate Change – a Challenge. Götz Ellwanger, Axel Ssymank & Cornelia Paulsch Federal Agency for Nature Conservation. Heft 118: 7-27.
  • Huntley, B & Baxter, R (2012). Vegetation ecology and global change. In Vegetation Ecology. van der Maarel, E & Franklin, J Wiley-Blackwell. 509-525.
  • Huntley, B., Hole, D.G. & Willis, S.G. (2011). Assessing the effectiveness of a protected area network in the face of climatic change. In Climate change, ecology, and systematics. Hodkinson, Trevor R. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 345-362.
  • B. Huntley & R.E. Green (2011). Bioclimatic models of the distributions of Gyrfalcons and ptarmigan. In Gyrfalcons and Ptarmigan in a Changing World. R.T. Watson, T.J. Cade, M. Fuller, G. Hunt & E. Potapov The Peregrine Fund. 10.
  • B. Huntley & R.E. Green (2011). The utility of bioclimatic models for projecting future changes in the distribution of birds in response to climate change. In Gyrfalcons and Ptarmigan in a Changing World. R.T. Watson, T.J. Cade, M. Fuller, G. Hunt & E. Potapov The Peregrine Fund. 7.
  • Willis, S.G., Hole, D.G. & Huntley, B. (2010). Climate change and conservation. In Trade-offs in conservation: Deciding what to save. Leader-Williams, N., Adams, B. & Smith, R. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. 331-348.
  • T.V. Callaghan, L.O. Björn, F.S. Chapin III., Y. Chernov, T.R. Christensen, B. Huntley, R. Imms, M. Johansson, D.J. Riedlinger, S. Jonasson, N. Matveyeva, W. Oechel, N. Panikov & G. Shaver (2005). Arctic tundra and polar desert ecosystems. In Arctic Climate Impact Assessment. Carolyn Symon, Lelani Arris & Bill Heal Cambridge University Press. 243-352.
  • A.T. Peterson, H. Tian, E. Martinez-Meyer, J. Soberón, V. Sánchez-Cordero & B. Huntley (2005). Modeling Distributional Shifts of Individual Species and Biomes. In Climate change and Biodiversity. T.E. Lovejoy & L. Hannah Yale University Press. 211-228.
  • B. Huntley (2005). North temperate responses. In Climate change and biodiversity. T.E. Lovejoy & L. Hannah Yale University Press. 109-124.
  • B. Huntley & R. Baxter (2005). Vegetation ecology and global change. In Vegetation Ecology. Eddy van der Maarel Blackwell Science Ltd. 356-372.

Journal Article


Show all publications

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Technology transfer: plant ecology
  • Technology transfer: palaeoecology
  • Technology transfer: biogeography
  • Technology transfer: palaeoenvironments
  • Technology transfer: global change
  • Plants & agriculture: natural resource management
  • Weather & climate: climate change
  • Wildlife: wildlife

Indicators of Esteem

  • 2015: Invited Plenary Lecture: Delivered invited plenary lecture at the "Symposium on Biological Extinctions and Climate Change" held at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri, USA, 10-11th September.
  • 2015: Invited Plenary Lecture: Delivered invited plenary lecture to, and participated in, the workshop "The impact of climate changes on animal populations" at the Ettore Majorana Centre for Scientific Culture, Erice, Sicily, 9–14th November.
  • 2012: Invited Plenary Lecture: Delivered an invited plenary lecture to the Botanical Society of the British Isles conference ‘A Great Leap Forward’, Edinburgh, September.
  • 2010: Invited Plenary Lecture: Delivered a plenary lecture to the European Science Foundation Research Conference ‘Extreme Environmental Events’, Cambridge, December.
  • 2008: Invited Plenary Lecture: Delivered the ‘Pybus Memorial Lecture’, Natural History Society of Northumberland and Durham, Newcastle.
  • 2007: Invited Plenary Lecture: Delivered the opening plenary lecture to the ‘Wind, water and fire: renewable energy and birds’ conference organised by the British Ornithologists Union, Leicester, April.
  • 2004: Invited Plenary Lecture: Invited Plenary Lecturer at European Bird Census Council Conference, 'Bird Numbers 2004: Monitoring in a changing Europe', Kayseri, Turkey.
  • 2003: Peer Review College: Appointed as member of the NERC Peer Review College
  • 2002: Darwin's Birthday Lecture: Invited to deliver "Darwin's Birthday Lecture", Natural History Museum, London
  • 2002: Research Merit Award: Royal Society - Wolfson Foundation 'Research Merit Award' holder 2002-6