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Ecology and Conservation

Welcome to the Centre for Ecology and Conservation


The Centre for Ecology and Conservation uses the power of research and education to understand ecology, evolution and solutions to the global biodiversity crisis.

We foster an inclusive and collaborative academic community, valuing individuals as stakeholders in the success of the Department, University and themselves.

I am proud to be head of this amazing Department, and look forward to welcoming you should you contact or visit us. 


Professor Dave Hodgson

Professor of Ecology
Head of Department, Ecology and Conservation

About us

At the Department for Ecology and Conservation, we pride ourselves on cutting-edge education and research designed to address the factors that influence biodiversity and complexity in the natural world.

Our degree programmes

We offer a broad range of degrees, with undergraduate courses in Animal Behaviour, Conservation Biology and EcologyEvolutionary Biology, Human Sciences, Marine Biology and Zoology. Options for a Study Abroad year are widely available and we offer a wide range of four-year MSci options.

Our renowned 1-year MSc degrees - Applied Data ScienceConservation and BiodiversityEvolutionary and Behavioural Ecology, Marine Environmental Management, Marine Vertebrate Ecology and Conservation and Pathogen Evolution - attract students from across the world.

We have a vibrant PhD programme with particular strengths in behaviour, conservation biology, evolutionary genetics, population and community ecology, microbiology and marine biology.

All our education is focused around understanding how hypothesis-driven research underpins our understanding of science, meanwhile developing communication skills, and fostering critical thinking and evaluation of evidence.

Our research

We are based on the University of Exeter's Penryn Campus in the heart of Cornwall, surrounded by an area known for its natural beauty. Our research focuses on local biodiversity, with studies of behaviour, ecology, evolution and conservation in natural, agricultural, marine, or urban systems whilst engaging extensively with key stakeholder groups.

Our research is also carried out at sites worldwide, with researchers studying species from Australia to Africa, Europe to North America. Studies range from molecular analyses to field experiments. Our work is funded by UK research councils, the European Union, charities and government organisations from around the world.

Our community

The hallmark of the department is an interactive, dynamic and welcoming group of internationally known researchers as well as our innovative and enthusiastically engaged student body. We also have a thriving network of postdoctoral researchers and research fellows.

Our enthusiasm and passion for our areas of study and the respect we have for diverse approaches to understanding our natural world has led to rapid growth and success since the department was established in 2003. Although our history is short, we are continuing to develop and grow.

Research ethics, research culture and responsible metrics
(Penryn Campus)


Research at the Department for Ecology and Conservation is diverse, covering a large array of topics in animal behaviour, conservation, ecology, evolutionary biology, marine biology and microbiology. All research has the potential to raise ethical issues, which must be given due consideration during the research process.

All our research work is guided by the Ethics Policy and the Code of Good Conduct in Research, informed by the Universities UK Concordat to Support Research Integrity.

» More about our ethics policies

Research culture and responsible use of metrics

The University of Exeter is a signatory of the Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) which commits us to improving the ways in which we assess researchers and scholarly outputs. There is also a University-wide “responsible metrics champions” group that aims to help others to become aware of, understand and improve use of DORA and the broader responsible research metrics agenda.

As a department we want to lead change in this area, and are committed to driving open, reproducible research and inclusive research assessment. Moreover, appointments and promotions committees within the department will take on board the responsible use of metrics and promote consistency and transparency - in alignment with DORA principles - and assess research and researchers on their own merits.

The general recommendation of DORA is “Do not use journal-based metrics, such as Journal Impact Factors, as a surrogate measure of the quality of individual research articles, to assess an individual scientist’s contributions, or in hiring, promotion, or funding decisions.”

The DORA recommendations for institutions are: 

  • Be explicit about the criteria used to reach hiring, tenure, and promotion decisions, clearly highlighting, especially for early-stage investigators, that the scientific content of a paper is much more important than publication metrics or the identity of the journal in which it was published.
  • For the purposes of research assessment, consider the value and impact of all research outputs (including datasets and software) in addition to research publications, and consider a broad range of impact measures including qualitative indicators of research impact, such as influence on policy and practice. 

The full list of DORA recommendations can be found on the DORA website.


Within the department: if you have any questions regarding these topics, or concerns we are not adhering to the above principles, please contact the CEC responsible metrics group representative ( and Head of Department.