E.J. Milner-Gulland


Department of Zoology,

University of Oxford. 



Tasso Leventis Professor of Biodiversity. Department of Zoology, University of Oxford.

Director, Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science (ICCS).



ejBefore joining the University of Oxford in November 2015, I was Professor of Conservation Science at Imperial College London for 15 years, and have held previous positions in Resource Economics and Mathematical Ecology at Oxford, Imperial and Warwick Universities.

My first degree was in Pure and Applied Biology at Oxford, and my PhD at Imperial was on the exploitation of elephants, rhinos and saigas.

I have a particular interest in developing and applying methods for understanding and predicting human behaviour in the context of local resource use in developing countries, and improving the effectiveness of incentive-based mechanisms such as payment for ecosystems services and biodiversity offsetting, in the marine and terrestrial realms.

I also work on the illegal wildlife trade and am interested in designing, monitoring and evaluating conservation interventions in order to improve their effectiveness.


Finally, I am passionate about the conservation ecology of the saiga antelope in Central Asia, and co-founded the Saiga Conservation Alliance in 2006.


My research group is strongly interdisciplinary and has a wide range of research interests within conservation science. Our ethos is to ensure that all the research that we do is addressing issues identified by practitioners, and is carried out collaboratively with end-users.

My group’s research falls within three broad themes: understanding natural resource users; exploring social-ecological systems; managing human-nature interactions. The first theme addresses the drivers and motivations behind human behaviour towards the environment, the second theme addresses the feedbacks between individual behaviour and the wider social and ecological system within which they are embedded, and the third theme addresses how best to design, implement and evaluate interventions to alter human behaviour and hence slow the rate of biodiversity loss.

We work in both terrestrial and marine realms, and work closely with the practitioners who are implementing interventions, to ensure that they are designed, carried out and monitored in a way that leads to the desired outcomes from both conservation and social justice perspectives.  



· Chair, UK government’s Darwin Expert Committee (2019 - )

· Founder and Director, Conservation Optimism movement (2016 - )

· Trustee, WWF-UK (Oct 2017 - ), Chair of Programme Committee (2019 - )

· Scientific Advisor, Synchronicity Earth (2018 - )

· Founder of ICCS Biodiversity Fellowships programme (Oct 2015 - )

· Founder and Chair of Trustees, Saiga Conservation Alliance (Sept 2006 - ).

· Oryx: the International Journal of Conservation: Senior Editor 1997- .

· Saiga News, Founder and Advisory Editor. June 2005- 

Technical advisor to the Convention on Migratory Species on the saiga antelope (2006- )

· Member, IUCN Species Survival Commission Antelope Specialist Group (1992- )

- Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group (2004- )

- Greenlisting Task Force (2016).

Honorary Doctorate, Hedmark University College, Norway, 2014

British Ecological Society Marsh Award for Ecology, 2011

Imperial College Rector’s Award for Excellence in Research Supervision, 2010

Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award, 2008

ZSL Marsh Award for outstanding contributions to conservation science, 2001


  1. GCRF Collaborative hub, TRADE (Trade, Development & Environment). co-I, WP leader (£1 million), April 2019-March 2024.
  2. GCRF Research England Fund Pump-priming for a Centre of Excellence in Behavioural Change for Conservation. (£47,994). October 2018-July 2019.
  3. UK Darwin Initiative: Why eat wild meat? Developing effective alternatives to bushmeat consumption. Co-I, with IIED, Living Earth. (£365,826). July 2018-March 2021.
  4. Leventis foundation: Making a difference with Conservation Optimism. Internal funding, £100,000. 2018-2020.
  5. Leventis foundation: Guiding the development of the global post-2020 biodiversity framework. Internal funding, £50,000. 2018-2019.
  6. National Geographic: Exploring the effective use of celebrities in wildlife demand reduction: changing perceptions of pangolins in Viet Nam. PI. ($89,000 for year 1 of 3). April 2018-March 2021.
  7. Oxford Martin School: The OMS programme in the illegal wildlife trade. PI, with Joss Wright. (£1 million), October 2016-September 2020.
  8. The Nature Conservancy: The Nature Conservancy/Oxford Martin School Climate Partnership. Co-PI, with Myles Allen, Yadvinder Mahli. (£765,075 total), April 2016-August 2019.­­­­­­­
  9. 3ie - International Initiative for Impact Evaluation: Measuring impact of conservation interventions on human wellbeing and the environment in Northern Cambodia. Research lead. PI: WCS-Cambodia. ($395,968 total) April 2017-March 2020.
  10. UK Darwin Initiative: Achieving no net loss for communities and biodiversity in Uganda. PI, with IIED, WCS, NEMA, Nature Uganda (£299,363). April 2016-March 2019.
  11. UK Darwin Initiative: Can health investments benefit conservation and sustainable development? Research lead, with CTPH. (£295,000 total). May 2016-April 2019.
  12. UK Natural Environment Research Council: Learning from observational data for environmental management. With Dr A. Keane (Edinburgh university), (£670,713 total) Jan 2016-August 2019 (extension + additional impact funding secured).
  13. Pew Marine Fellowship: Developing innovative bycatch reduction approaches for large pelagic ecosystems. ($150,000, October 2015- September 2020)


Please see my ResearchGate page or Google Scholar for a full list.  


A global mitigation hierarchy for nature (May 2018): Bioscience podcast: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/bioscience-aibs/bioscience-talks/e/54408314

Space for nature: 27th March 2018: Interview on the Today programme.

Ivory trade: 26th September 2017: Interview with John Simpson on the BBC Radio 4 today programme.

Conservation optimism (2017): http://www.dw.com/en/cheer-up-can-optimism-help-protect-the-environment/a-38586517, http://www.iflscience.com/environment/new-summit-announced-to-highlight-much-needed-optimism-in-conservation/, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/apr/08/endangered-species-conservation-successes

Mass die-off of saiga antelopes in Kazakhstan (2015, 2018): Major coverage in online and print media (including a very highly cited article in The Conversation: https://theconversation.com/planet-earth-ii-why-more-than-200-000-saiga-antelopes-died-in-just-days-69859), TV and radio worldwide including National Geographic's Years of Living Dangerously and BBC2's Nature's Weirdest Events (8th May 2017).