Professor Andy Purvis
Andy has made considerable contributions to ecology, evolutionary biology and conservation over recent decades. He has been at the forefront of several initiatives to enhance large scale analysis of macroecological and macroevolutionary patterns and processes. His work has had significant impacts on the work of other researchers, and on policy and practice, because of his general approach to open data and model sharing. His academic research is of the highest quality and he is well known, and well cited, for incisive and significant large-scale analyses.
Andy’s early work involved developing software for the analysis of cross-species traits and habitats, an approach fraught with analytical difficulties because of species having shared evolutionary histories that make the data non-independent. Andy created easy to use software (CAIC), which he made freely available and which transformed the work of many ecologists and evolutionary biologists. He also pioneered the construction of phylogenetic super trees, making his analysis achievable even in the absence of comprehensive data. He subsequently held large analytical projects using super trees for all mammals, composite life history and conservation data, and new GIS and mapping skills to draw conclusions about large scale patterns in the threat status of mammals.
In recent years, Andy has led the PREDICTS project, a large collaboration to compile new datasets to understand how land conversion leads to local biodiversity loss and change at global scale. The project now has 2.5 million biodiversity records from over 21,000 sites, covering more than 38,000 species and the most recent papers have clearly demonstrated the ‘hockey stick’ decline curve for species richness since the start of large-scale agriculture.
Andy has an outstanding current research record, which is having a significant impact on the development of the science of ecology and its application.