Organic farming shows limited benefit to wildlife
5th May 2010
Organic farms may be seen as wildlife friendly, but the benefits to birds, bees and butterflies don't compensate for the lower yields produced.
Organic farming shows limited benefit to wildlife [A]
Organic farms may be seen as wildlife friendly, but the benefits to birds, bees and butterflies don't compensate for the lower yields produced, according to new research from the University of Leeds [B].
In the most detailed, like-for-like comparisons of organic and conventional farming to date [C], researchers from Leeds' Faculty of Biological Science found that the benefits to wildlife and increases in biodiversity from organic farming are much lower than previously thought - averaging just over 12 per cent more than conventional farming. [D]
The organic farms in the study produced less than half of the yield [E] of their conventional counterparts, so the research - published online today in Ecology Letters - raises serious questions about how we can use agricultural land to maximise food production and still protect our wildlife [F].
"Over the next forty years, we're going to have to double food production worldwide to keep pace with population increases," [G] says Professor Tim Benton, who led the project. "Our results show that to produce the same amount of food in the UK using organic rather than conventional means, we'd need to use twice the amount of land for agriculture. [H]
"As the biodiversity benefits of organic farming are small, then the lower yield may be a luxury we can't afford, particularly in the more productive areas of the UK. " [I]
Organic farms have come out well in earlier research into biodiversity and wildlife, but as these farms tend to be found in areas with smaller fields, more hedges and woodland, they start with an advantage [J]. The Leeds project, funded under the Rural Economy Land Use programme, aimed to see if organic farming was still as good for wildlife if these landscape effects were taken out of the equation.
The research looked at two areas in Central South West England and the North Midlands, taking into account over 30 variables covering climate, topography, socio-economic conditions, land use and soil type. Thirty-two organic and non-organic farms were paired together, some in 'hotspot' regions with many organic farms and others in 'coldspots' with very few, to help identify any cumulative impacts over a wider area. Comparisons were made also between individual fields, with 192 fields sampled in all. The research looked at birds, insects (including butterflies, bees and hoverflies), earthworms and plants.
Comparing farm by farm, the researchers found a 55 per cent drop in yield compared to a 12.4 per cent increase in biodiversity. However, comparisons between larger areas found that 'hotspots' with a greater density of organic farming showed a 9.1 per cent increase in biodiversity across the board. [K]
"If one field is managed organically without use of herbicides, that can benefit plant species in a field by field comparison, but it won't affect enough of an area to impact on pollinating insects, for example," explains co-researcher on the project, Dr Doreen Gabriel. "However, if you aggregate organic farms together, the benefits can be seen across a wider range of species. "
The research also threw up some unforeseen negative impacts. Conventional farms in 'hotspots' tended to use higher levels of herbicides than those in 'coldspots' to counteract the seeds coming across from their more weed-tolerant neighbours [L]. And numbers of small farmland birds were actually lower on organic farms, as these tend to attract birds such as magpies and jays, which prey on smaller birds [M].
"Organic methods may be a useful part of the land management mix for the less productive parts of the UK, particularly if policies can encourage farmers to coordinate activities to maximise the benefit to wildlife across a larger area [N],"says Professor Benton.
"However, given the lower yield and the limited biodiversity benefit of organic farming, it isn't sustainable to promote it as the best or only method of agriculture [O]. To meet future demands of food production, we will need to keep farming our most productive areas in the most intensive way we can - and potentially offset that by managing some of our remaining land exclusively as wildlife reserves. [P]"
New footnotes and clarifications added 18th May 2010
[A] The views in this press release are based on research published in the Ecology Letters' paper on 5th May plus some conclusions based on a forthcoming paper (see note B) and it also contains context and interpretation by the lead authors on the Ecology Letters' paper of 5th May. The research highlighted in this press release arises from the "ecology" workpackage of larger project, RELU SCALES, and this workpackage involved Leeds' staff Prof Tim Benton, with Prof Bill Kunin and Dr Steve Sait, and the researcher responsible for the execution of the work was Dr Doreen Gabriel. The wider RELU SCALES project is led by Prof Sigrid Stagl based at the Vienna University of Economics and Business, and involves a wide range of investigators from many backgrounds and institutions (ecological farming experts, farm economists, sociologists, hydrologists, soil scientists, philosophers, environmental and ecological economists from the Universities Cambridge, Manchester, Cranfield, Aberdeen, Vienna (Austria), Macaulay Land Use Research Institute, Organic Research Centre Elm Farm and Henry Doubleday Research Association). The conclusions expressed here, particularly regarding the forthcoming work and its implications, do not necessarily represent the views of the RELU-SCALES team, nor the view of the research partner Henry Doubleday Research Association (working name Garden Organic).
[B] This conclusion arises from the paper published 5th May in Ecology Letters, which highlights how biodiversity differs between cereal fields farmed organically or conventionally, and a forthcoming paper, which has been peer-reviewed, which looks at a measure of biodiversity assessed in nature reserves, organic and conventional fields and models the optimal strategy to maximise both yield of crop and biodiversity. The theoretical framework for the forthcoming paper is Green et al (2005) "Farming and the fate of wild nature" vol 305, p550). Green et al. 's argument is that the optimal approach to conserve biodiversity and maximise yield depends on the way farming intensity impacts biodiversity. If farming at lower intensity increases biodiversity, but reduces yield, more land will be required to make up the lost yield, and conversion of the extra land to farming will also have an impact on biodiversity. Thus the optimal strategy for farming yield and maximising biodiversity depends on on (a) the relationship between yield loss and biodiversity gain and (b) the biodiversity in the "extra land" that would be converted to agriculture and thus the "cost" associated with that. If reducing intensity has a large impact in yield but only creates a small increase in biodiversity, farming intensively on some land and managing the "spare land" for biodiversity is the optimal strategy (see Green et al 2005 for details). Conversely, if reducing farming intensity has a big effect on biodiversity but a small impact on yield, farming the whole area extensively is the optimal strategy. This "land sparing vs land sharing" modelling is examined in detail in the forthcoming paper. The current Ecology Letters' paper examines in detail the biodiversity changes and provides (in Table 1) the relative yields in the organic vs. conventional winter cereal fields. It is within the framework of the land sparing vs. land sharing optimal argument that the statement "increase in biodiversity does not compensate for the reduction in yield" is made. This modelling framework can be criticised (for example, it assumes the elasticity of demand is zero) and is conceptually simplistic. However, the conceptual point is if a certain yield is demanded, farming in a way that reduces yield necessitates more land to produce the yield, and the cost of this can be balanced against the benefits.
[C] The May 5th Ecology Letters' paper notes the following caveat. Our design looked at farms matched as closely as possible (in size, enterprise and environment). This was so we could look directly at a like-for-like comparison "controlling" for effects to do with farm size, location and field size etc. This means that, whilst our organic farms are probably fairly representative, our sample of conventional farms is probably not typical (in that our sampled conventional farms are generally smaller than average and mixed rather than either entirely grazing or entirely arable). By the nature of organic practice, it was not possible to find a sample of organic farms that could be matched to very large, arable-only, conventional farms. Thus our research measures the effects of being organic per se, unalloyed with the correlated effects of mixed farming, or of the specific environments in which organic farms tend to be placed (see Gabriel et al. "The spatial aggregation of organic farming in England and its underlying environmental correlates". J. Appl. Ecol. , 46, 323-333). The biodiversity benefits of organic practice thus measured are likely to be smaller than the average biodiversity difference between existing conventional and organic farms. Ours, however, is the best measure of the net biodiversity effect of a (mixed) conventional farm switching to organic, but keeping the rest of its farm practices constant.
[D] Our data show that organic farming on average provides an increase in biodiversity (though the effect depends on both the spatial scale and the taxon). The published literature is very variable in the past about how organic farming may benefit biodiversity (see Hole et al 2003 "Does organic farming benefit biodiversity?" Biological Conservation 122 (2005) 113-130 for a review). Some attempts have been made to synthesise this literature (e.g. Bengtsson et al 2005 "The effects of organic agriculture on biodiversity and abundance: a meta-analysis" J appl ecol 42, 261) which suggest that the "average" effect size is 30-40%.
[E] This statement needs clarifying. What we show, both here and in an additional paper in preparation, is that the winter cereal fields (3 per farm) on average produce 44% the yield of comparable conventional fields. These data come from sampling cereal stems within the field using standardised methodology and drying the grain. The data (in tonnes per ha) are not directly comparable with the yield a farmer would measure (for example, it doesn't include losses during harvesting and transport). These are also not "whole farm" outputs. Clearly, different crops will give rise to different yield estimates and the figure of 44% does not represent all organic crops in all locations. Additionally, we are aware that winter cereals on organic farms are often grown as fodder crops and not for human consumption. Nonetheless, cereals are Europe's most common crop and they were grown on all our farms, and our estimates of yield are correlated with estimates gained in other ways (such as through farmer questionnaires), and additionally have low variance, suggesting they are precise. Furthermore, even with "unmatched farms/fields" comparisons, and for a range of different crops, across Europe organic yields are typically considerably lower than conventional yields (see e.g. Offerman & Nieberg (2002) "Does organic farming have a future in Europe?"EuroChoices 1, 12 - 17).
[F] Managing biodiversity is important for a number of reasons. There is a "non utility" stewardship argument and various utility-based arguments because biodiversity often provides crucial ecosystem services (such as pollination, pest control, soil fertility) that contribute to yields. It is therefore imperative that farming has the minimum impact on biodiversity whilst producing harvestable yield. The key questions is how best to both manage biodiversity and also meet the demands for food (see [A]). There is a broad ecological literature that engages with the question of the ecological impacts of increasing agricultural demand and the land pressure that eventuates (e.g. Tilman et al, 2001, "Forecasting agriculturally driven global environmental change" Science 292, 581; Tilman et al "Agricultural sustainability and intensive production practice" Nature, 418, 671-677 (2002); Green et al op cit; Godfray et al 2010 "Food security: the challenge of feeding 9 billion people" Science 327, 812). This paper, and the forthcoming work, contribute to this debate: food production (whether organic or conventional) impacts biodiversity and ecosystem services. The best solution to managing food and wildlife is both place- and scale-dependent and depends on many factors, including those outlined in [A].
[G] This figure is widely used in the scientific literature (e.g. World Bank, World Development Report 2008: Agriculture for Development (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008); Royal Society of London, Reaping the Benefits: Science and the Sustainable Intensification of Global Agriculture (Royal Society, London, 2009); Godfray et al 2010 op cit; Tilman et al 2002 op cit). It is also used by the UK Govt in its planning (see footnotes in the Soil Association's report "The Big Fat Lie" available at http://www.soilassociation.org). The Soil Association's report takes issue with the need to double food production worldwide by 2050. Clearly this projected demand is based on many assumptions (both in terms of human population growth and the way a population's demand for food may change) and if the assumptions are changed different projections will be possible. If the world ate less meat, it is certainly true, global demand will go down; but it is a common pattern in international development that as countries develop the demand for meat increases, so food demand often grows at a factor much greater than population growth (e.g. see Delgardo 2003. "Rising consumption of meat and milk in developing countries has created a new food revolution. " J. Nutr. 2003;133, 3907S-3910S). Moreover, even the more modest estimates of increased food demand (by the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs committee in their report: "Securing food supplies up to 2050: the challenges faced by the UK"), cited by the Soil Association in its report anticipates the need for a 70% increase in food production by 2050, and thus a substantial increase in demand for agricultural land.
[H] This is strictly incorrect in that we showed that, on the fields we measured, the wheat yields were about half. This is not the same as the farms producing "half the food" as we did not measure the amount of food produced by each farm and there is not likely to be a one-to-one correspondence between field yield and a farm's food production. Nonetheless, our estimate of yield was about half that on organic fields vs conventional fields, and therefore to produce the same yield the organic area would need to be twice that of the conventional area, at least with regards to production of this grain.
[I] "a luxury we can't afford" was a shortening of "a luxury we, as a society, can't afford". This statement is a value judgement based on a subjective assessment of the global valuation of food vs biodiversity. If food demand is as predicted to be (see [G]) then this presents a very serious challenge that will be difficult to realise (Godfray et al 2010, op cit; Beddington 2010 "Food security: contributions from science to a new and greener revolution" Phil Trans Roy Soc 365:61). If the future demand for food is greater than the supply, it is likely that the value of food will increase relative to the perceived value of biodiversity. This may well lead to productive areas being used for high production rather than conservation.
[J] See also Gabriel et al. (2009 op cit); and Norton et al. 2008 "Consequences of organic and non-organic farming practices for field, farm and landscape complexity". Agric. Ecosyst. Environ. , 129, 221-227.
[K] In other words: organic farming is on average good for biodiversity, and areas where organic farms are common are even better for biodiversity. As the paper indicates, the rank order of "biodiversity yield" is Hotspot organic> Coldspot organic >= Hotspot conventional >coldspot conventional. i.e. a conventional farm in an "organic landscape" can have the same biodiversity as an isolated organic farm in a conventional landscape.
[L] Other explanations are possible for this pattern: for example, conventional farmers in hotspots may receive advice to spray more without there actually being a greater seed rain in the neighbourhood. However, there is ecological literature that suggests that the seed rain hypothesis is a highly plausible one as greater landscape-level weed diversity is associated with greater seed dispersal impacting on within-field diversity (e.g Roschewitz, I. , Gabriel, D. , Tscharntke, T. & Thies, C. (2005). "The effects of landscape complexity on arable weed species diversity in organic and conventional farming". J. Appl. Ecol. , 42, 873-882. ; Valone, T.J. , Hoffman, C.D. , 2002. "Effects of regional pool size on local diversity in small-scale annual plant communities". Ecol. Lett. 5, 477-480. ; Zobel, M. (1997). "The relative role of species pools in determining plant species richness. An alternative explanation of species coexistence?". Trends Ecol. Evol. , 12, 266-269).
[M] See the Ecology Letters' online appendix for some supporting information for this hypothesis and also Dunn et al (forthcoming) "Fear for the family has negative consequences: indirect effects of predators on chick growth in a farmland bird. " J appl Ecol.
[N] Our results indicate that biodiversity often responds to land management at a scale larger than the farm, so managing landscapes pays a biodiversity dividend; and so, in those situations where organic farming is the optimal solution to maximising yield and biodiversity, grouping organic farms together is beneficial. Furthermore, the landscape level effects suggest, as discussed in the Ecology Letters' paper, that any agri-environment scheme would gain dividends if co-ordinated at a landscape level
[O] If farming is to move to increased "low carbon" methodologies, it is likely that the difference between what is regarded as "organic" and what is regarded as "conventional" methodologies will reduce. Low (synthetic) input farming, and organic farming within this, has a necessary role in future food production, in the EU and globally. However, it will be difficult to meet the global demand for food without producing yields that are, on average, at the equivalent, or greater, levels of productivity than current conventional (Beddington, 2010 op cit) or without vastly increasing the area of land under agriculture, with its concomitant environmental cost. The maximum global increase in agricultural area that can be attained (including taking in the area under current rainforest) is 2.16x the current area (Fischer, G. , van Velthuizen, H.T. & Nachtergaele, F.O. (2000) "Global agroecological zones assessment: methodology and results". IIASA Interim Report IR-00-064. International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Vienna, Austria. http://www.iiasa.ac.at/Admin/PUB/Documents/IR-00-064.pdf. ) suggesting that if we need to double food production by mid century (see [G]) whilst at the same time losing yield to climate change (e.g. Lobell, D.B. , Burke, M.B. , Tebaldi, C. , Mastrandrea, M.D. , Falcon, W.P. &Naylor, R.L. (2008) "Prioritizing climate change adaptation needs for food security in 2030". Science, 319, 607-610. ) there will be extreme land pressure (Tilman et al 2001; Godfray et al 2010; Gabriel et al 2009). The need to ensure high outputs from existing agricultural land will therefore most likely intensify (Beddington 2010 op cit).
[P] The statement does not necessarily refer to a conceptual separation of biodiversity into different regions and farming into other regions (i.e. a "two tier countryside" as it has been suggested in the press). Biodiversity plays important roles in natural enemy suppression and pollination etc, so it is likely that it will always be beneficial to encourage biodiversity whether the landscape is conventionally or organically farmed (and this need is likely to increase with the development of low farming methodologies). Intensively farmed landscapes can however still be wildlife-sympathetic in terms of marginal management and the management of non-cropped areas. It is likely however, that there will remain the necessity to farm in a way to maximise yield. Under current conventional agriculture, this may equate to intensively managed field areas with wildlife-friendly field margins and non-cropped areas. In such a landscape, specific areas set aside for management of biodiversity ("nature reserves" or areas managed to promote biodiversity within fields/farms) coupled with the existing biodiversity on the conventional farms, will preserve the optimum biodiversity whilst producing the required yield.
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For the tiny Daubenton's bat, the attractions of family life seem to vary more with altitude than with the allure of the opposite sex.
19th November 2012
Faculty scientists will take part in a £5.6 million project to develop new methods for controlling foot-and-mouth disease.
7th November 2012
A drug commonly used in treating breast cancer could have far wider benefits, offering a new way of preventing cancers spreading through the body, according to a University of Leeds-led study.
17th October 2012
Faculty researchers have identified a crucial stage in the lifecycle of simple viruses like polio and the common cold that could open a new front in the war on viral disease.
16th October 2012
Research has found that prion helps our brains to absorb zinc, which is believed to be crucial to our ability to learn and the wellbeing of our memory.
9th October 2012
Research has identified two possible new routes for developing novel drugs for high blood pressure and heart disease.
1st October 2012
Potential new treatments for heart disease and infections by parasites or bacteria are now in the pipeline thanks to a €12m European project.
10th September 2012
A larger-scale approach to sustainable farming could be more beneficial for wildlife than our current system of farm-based payments, according to faculty researchers
6th September 2012
A report showing that 350,000 people in the UK become infected with the Toxoplasma parasite each year has raised new concerns about its risks and has prompted a rethink of the dangers posed by cats.
4th September 2012
Analysis of fossil and geological records going back 540 million years suggests that biodiversity on Earth generally increases as the planet warms.
6th August 2012
A University of Leeds led international research team has found that a common anti-angina drug could help protect the heart against carbon monoxide poisoning.
5th July 2012
Seabirds feed their young less as they reach an age to fly the nest, but it's hormones that actually control when the chicks leave home.
11th June 2012
Wire bridges built to guide bats safely across busy roads simply do not work, University of Leeds researchers have confirmed.
29th May 2012
Faculty researchers investigate ways to improve the future for this drought-hardy, nutritious crop.
22nd May 2012
University of Leeds takes Gold at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show with its first exhibit at the prestigious event
15th May 2012
Friday, May 18, 2012 is the "The First International Fascination of Plants Day". Join the Faculty of Biological Sciences researchers at the LIGHT Shopping Centre from 12-5
15th May 2012
The University will visit one of the world's most famous flower shows next week to show how simple changes can make a positive contribution to the planet.
14th May 2012
Researchers are developing a way to 'barcode' viral diseases to test new outbreaks for potentially lethal mutations.
14th May 2012
The discovery of a new mechanism through which pain is signalled by nerve cells could explain the current failings in the painkiller development process and may offer opportunities for a new approach.
10th May 2012
Three Leeds researchers have been elected to the Fellowship of the Academy of Medical Sciences.
10th May 2012
Scientists take 'bee-friendly gardening' on the road as they prepare to exhibit at Chelsea Flower Show
8th May 2012
Researchers are studying how to make electricity from electrodes coated in bacteria, and other living cells, using light or hydrogen as the fuel
8th May 2012
Dr Jamel Mankouri has received the fellowship for his work on how viruses interact with the body.
12th April 2012
A three year £1.3 million research project will examine how bees, hoverflies and other pollinating insects are affected by city life.
11th April 2012
A University garden at this year's Chelsea Flower Show highlights how messy gardens can boost pollination, manage water and increase carbon capture.
14th March 2012
Aggressive signal crayfish are threatening Yorkshire's native white-clawed crayfish populations due to better parasite resistance and a less fussy diet.
15th February 2012
Faculty scientists have developed a technique which could form the basis of a non-invasive diagnostic for Adenovirus - the virus responsible for a large number of common illnesses.
26th January 2012
A new study, using genetic analysis to look for clues about human migration over 60,000 years ago, suggests that the first modern humans settled in Arabia on their way from the Horn of Africa to the rest of the world.
24th January 2012
A successful collaboration between the universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York has attracted £6 million to create a joint Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) in mechanistic biology.
18th January 2012
Two academics from the Faculty of Biological Sciences have been shortlisted for the Bioscience HE Teacher of the Year award.
17th January 2012
Faculty researchers aim to pin-point genetic defects involved in the development of schizophrenia within families.
9th December 2011
Scientists have discovered a mechanism they believe may play a key role in the spread of foot-and-mouth disease in animals.
30th November 2011
Male fig wasps display a unique behaviour - they team up to help pregnant females, regardless of whether they have mated themselves.
28th November 2011
Longer-lasting hip joints, replacement heart valves and knee reconstructions - technologies all developed at the University of Leeds - have won the Royal seal of approval.
4th November 2011
Infection by the brain parasite Toxoplasma gondii, found in 10-20 per cent of the UK's population, directly affects the production of dopamine, a key chemical messenger in the brain.
2nd November 2011
A new study by faculty researchers is the first to prove that major roads significantly reduce bat numbers, activity and diversity.
31st October 2011
Doctors should not only treat the heart muscle in chronic heart failure
patients, but also their leg muscles through exercise
25th October 2011
Researchers have identified two new drugs which may be effective in treating bipolar disorder.
20th October 2011
Faculty scientists have discovered levels of a specific enzyme are raised in the brains and blood of people with Alzheimer's disease. It's hoped their findings could be used to help clinical trials for new treatments for the disease.
20th October 2011
Professor Mark Harris, from the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology, has been appointed as a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator, with £1.5 million funding to pursue his research goals.
20th October 2011
Studies of ant populations in Borneo reveal an unexpected resilience to areas of rainforest degraded by repeated intensive logging.
16th September 2011
Renewed vigilance over the biosecurity of the Galápagos Islands is needed, based on new research on the risk posed by West Nile virus.
16th September 2011
The Global Food Security programme (GFS) has appointed FBS academic Tim Benton as Champion to take on the key role of coordinator and spokesperson for the group.
29th August 2011
A molecule which can stop the formation of long protein strands, known as amyloid fibrils, that cause joint pain in kidney dialysis patients has been identified by faculty researchers.
4th August 2011
A group of soldiers recovering from serious injury as a result of their service in Afghanistan are to take part in a psychological study as they hike to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.
2nd August 2011
New research looks at how bees and other pollinating insects respond to urban areas.
1st August 2011
Professor Christine Foyer has been named as a 'Redox Pioneer' by the US journal Antioxidants & Redox Signaling (ARS) in recognition of achieving more than 1000 citations for a paper on redox biology.
20th July 2011
The French may have had a better chance at the Battle of Agincourt had they not been weighed down by heavy body armour, say researchers.
1st June 2011
A faculty PhD student has developed a fast, accurate and inexpensive method of creating detailed vegetation community maps over very large areas.
1st June 2011
Researchers and clinicians in Yorkshire have teamed up to improve rehabilitation programmes for people who have suffered severe spinal injuries.
9th May 2011
The Women of Outstanding Achievement Awards recognise the diverse contributions of women as leaders, innovators and role models.
9th May 2011
Faculty scientists will look into how lethal viruses attack differently sized populations in research that may open the door to new pest controls.
3rd May 2011
Faculty researchers are gaining insight into how the heart, lungs, and muscles work together to affect endurance.
12th April 2011
Animal and bird species found only on a single island should still be common within that island.
10th February 2011
The conference will be held in June and organised by an interdisciplinary team.
20th January 2011
Scientists have made a fundamental step in the search for therapies for amyloid-related diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and diabetes mellitus.
14th December 2010
Faculty scientists are joining the global fight to eradicate polio by tricking the body to develop immunity.
27th November 2010
Leeds scientist William Astbury appears in the Guardian and the BBC's History of the world in 100 Objects.
15th November 2010
The latest findings from faculty biologists open up exciting new avenues for research into Alzheimer's.
22nd October 2010
A toxin found in the venom of the Central American bark scorpion (Centruroides margaritatus) could hold the key to reducing heart bypass failures.
19th October 2010
Faculty plant scientists have traced how a 100 million year-old gene mutation led flowers to make male and female parts differently.
13th October 2010
Scientists at the University of Leeds have begun a major study into the way Alzheimer's disease develops.
6th September 2010
Two faculty PhD students have snapped up top prizes in this year's British Ecological Society photographic competition.
15th July 2010
University researchers have been working on ways of producing biological scaffolds that will not be rejected by a patient's immune system.
28th June 2010
Faculty scientists have created the first convincing robotic fish that shoals will accept as one of their own.
22nd June 2010
Leeds scientists have been awarded nearly £1.5m to explore the causes and consequences of threats to bees and other pollinating insects in the UK.
15th June 2010
Recent findings provide a new focus for future therapies for Dent's disease, for which there is currently no cure.
7th June 2010
Common drugs used to treat conditions such as diabetes and obesity could be used to successfully treat hepatitis C virus infection.
28th May 2010
A new study finds that Clostridium difficile, a germ that causes deadly intestinal infections, can also travel by air.
17th May 2010
40 of the UK's leading medical researchers have been recognised for excellence in medical science.
14th May 2010
A natural defence mechanism against heart disease could be switched on by steroids sold as health supplements.
6th May 2010
Faculty research has identified how the virus which causes Kaposi’s Sarcoma replicates and spreads.
4th May 2010
Our personal tutors were recognised for their dedication, hard work and support at the 'I Love My Personal Tutor' Awards recently.
20th April 2010
A type of bat never seen before in the UK has been found visiting caves in Yorkshire and Sussex.
12th March 2010
Riding a bike like Chris Hoy, cleaning up with Aggie Mackenzie or firing rockets across campus: just a few of the 50 science activities at the Leeds Festival of Science for Yorkshire school children.
15th January 2010
The "Spectacled Flowerpecker", a bird species new to science, has been discovered in the Bornean rainforest.
11th November 2009
They may only be 1.5mm in size, but the tiny wasps that pollinate fig trees can travel over 160km in less than 48 hours. The fig wasps are transporting pollen ten times further than previously recorded for any insect.
21st October 2009
Logged rainforests can support as much diversity in birds as virgin forest within 15 years if properly managed, research at the University of Leeds has found.
20th October 2009
Two University of Leeds students have triumphed in a national enterprise competition.
20th October 2009
A £50 million research initiative, aimed at giving people '50 active years after 50' is being launched by the University of Leeds.
14th September 2009
New NERC grant to study honeybees' sex lives
24th August 2009
University of Leeds ecologist and PhD student Ute Bradter has snapped up first prize - worth Â£750 - in this year's British Ecological Society's photographic competition.
12th August 2009
Mosquitoes with the potential to carry diseases lethal to many unique species of Galapagos wildlife are being regularly introduced to the islands via aircraft, according to new research published today.
11th August 2009
Scientists at the University of Leeds have been awarded £184,000 by the British Heart Foundation to continue efforts to find a cure for heart disease.
3rd August 2009
Scientists at Leeds and Bradford have discovered a unique 'DNA signature' in human sperm, which may act as a key that unlocks an egg's fertility and triggers new life.
27th July 2009
A major University of Leeds initiative has joined forces with two leading African scientific organisations and is working to improve human health and prevent future food crises in sub-Saharan Africa.
22nd July 2009
Dr Adrian Whitehouse has been selected as one of only 16 bioscience researchers across the UK to receive a Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) fellowship.
2nd July 2009
Scientists are to study a group of proteins that are highly effective at killing bacteria and which could hold the key to developing new types of antibiotics.
2nd July 2009
Milder winters are causing Scotland's wild breed of Soay sheep to get smaller, according to new research at the University of Leeds
11th March 2009
Dr Mathias Dutschmann (IMSB, Senior Lecturer) has been appointed to serve on the Scientific Review Board (SRB) of the International Rett Syndrome Foundation (IRSF) for a three year term.
19th December 2008
Leeds' Faculty of Biological Sciences has consolidated its place amongst the UK elite according to the latest Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) figures.
15th December 2008
Dr Stan White has been appointed to the Grants and Fellowships committees of Kidney Research UK (KRUK). Kidney Research UK is the leading UK charity funding research that focuses on the prevention, treatment and management of kidney disease.
28th November 2008
The audience at today's 'Celebrating the Games' lecture heard from Dr Ed Coats how he and his teamates - James Cracknell and Ben Fogle - are preparing to test this limits of human endurance in the most inhospitable continent on earth: the Antarctic.
13th November 2008
Dr Bill Hughes of the University of Leeds'Faculty of Biological Sciences has been awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize in Zoology. These prizes, worth £70,000, are awarded to scholars under the age of 36 who are judged to be outstanding in their field.
9th October 2008
England?s top rugby league players are being exposed to an Australian-style climate at the University of Leeds ahead of this month?s forthcoming Rugby League World Cup 2008, which kicks off on 25 October.
7th October 2008
Bioscience Horizons, the Leeds-sponsored journal showcasing the best undergraduate bioscience research has been awarded a Highly Commended certificate by the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP) for publishing innovation.
6th October 2008
One of the smallest seals - the Caspian - has joined a growing list of mammal species in danger of extinction.
29th September 2008
Testing for diseases such as cancer and multiple sclerosis could soon be as simple as using a pregnancy testing kit.
29th August 2008
A study has proved that red squirrels can and do make use of special crossings set up over busy roads.
13th August 2008
Scientists at the University of Leeds are on the look out for willing volunteers who could provide a home for a dying breed of aquatic invertebrates.
18th July 2008
A new course to help lawyers tackle difficult decisions about when and how to challenge DNA evidence presented in the courtroom is being launched at the University of Leeds.
7th July 2008
The UK-China Membrane Biology Initiative led by the University of Leeds recently celebrated its first birthday by successfully hosting the 2nd international symposium on "Membrane Biology: Structure, Signalling and Neuroscience" at the University of Leeds
25th June 2008
Leeds Alumnus Peter Hudson has been elected a fellow of the Royal Society. Peter is now Willaman Chair in Biology, Director of Life Sciences, at our WUN partner Pennsylvania State University
10th June 2008
The University of Leeds Transformation Fund will bring together researchers from medicine, plant science, ecology, social policy and the environment to focus on preventing future food crises in Sub-Saharan Africa.
25th March 2008
This week sees the launch of Bioscience Horizons, a unique peer-reviewed journal comprising entirely of the very best undergraduate bioscience research in the UK and Republic of Ireland.
18th March 2008
A new 15 million Euro project led by the University of Leeds aims to find novel treatments for many human diseases by bringing together the leading European experts in membrane proteins.
21st February 2008
A tiny pest that threatens the staple diet of millions in Africa could soon be eradicated in a project announced today that brings together plant experts from Leeds and Uganda.
11th February 2008
Expertise from across the University of Leeds is to be channelled into a new research centre that aims to progress the understanding, treatment and prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
27th November 2007
The full weight of a consortium of world-leading scientists - including those who helped decode the entire human genome - is being thrown at the potato worm.
7th November 2007
Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Arthur has hosted a visit from members of Zhejiang University, one of the largest and most highly-regarded universities in China.
29th October 2007
The annual Crisp Lecture in Neuroscience or Neurology was delivered on 29th October 2007 by John Hardy, Professor of Neuroscience at University College London.
24th September 2007
One of the UK's most successful academic entrepreneurs has teamed up with the University of Leeds to offer outsourced research and development in membrane biology to pharmaceutical, biotech and agrochemical companies.
24th September 2007
Back pain is Britain's leading cause of time off work, with an estimated eight out of 10 people suffering at some point in their lives.
20th September 2007
A scientist at Leeds whose research is challenging conventional thinking on how the cholesterol-reducing drugs statins benefit cardiac patients, has secured funding to further investigate her findings.
19th June 2007
The onset of a new Leeds-China collaborative initiative in membrane and neurobiology was marked by a joint symposium on 'Membrane Biology: Structure, Signalling and Neuroscience', held at Beijing (Peking) University between May 18th and 20th, 2007
23rd May 2007
The Skin Research Centre at the University of Leeds, which has led the way in the treatment of acne, eczema and other skin conditions, is the only University skin microbiology laboratory in the UK to receive the international quality standard ISO 17025.
23rd May 2007
Stan has been invited to give a symposium lecture at the Renal Association Annual Conference in Brighton May 21st-23rd.
22nd May 2007
The Institute held its First Research Symposium on 27th February, which had research talks and poster presentations by institute members
9th May 2007
Researchers at the University of Leeds have found a mechanism to prevent a potentially fatal heart condition that can strike without warning.
7th May 2007
American Physiology Society Environmental and Exercise Physiology Section Honor Award for 2008
23rd April 2007
Stefan Kepinski has been awarded the Society for Experimental Biology President's Medal for Plant Biology for 2007
26th March 2007
Dr. Chris Baylis has been named the 2007 Carl W. Gottschalk
Distinguished Lecturer of the American Physiological Society
7th March 2007
Professor Brian Whipp (Cardiovascular and SES) has been named as the American College of Chest Physicians: Distinguished Scientist Honor Lecturer 2007.
5th March 2007
A special symposium was held on Monday 5th of March to mark the establishment of the first virtual-laboratory between Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology (Beijing) and the Centre for Plant Sciences.
26th February 2007
The IMSB will be celebrating its official opening with an inaugural symposium on Tuesday 27th Feb.
22nd January 2007
There will soon be no more bitter pills to swallow, thanks to new research by Leeds scientists: a spoonful of sugar will be all we need for our bodies to make their own medicine.
15th January 2007
Dr Sue Deuchars (IMSB) was featured in an article from the Times Higher Education Supplement (Jan 12, 2006) discussing the role of Research Fellows and the public understanding of science.
2nd January 2007
Life-saving surgery using novel human tissue products developed in the University of Leeds moved a step nearer today.
14th December 2006
The Amit Mehta prize will 'recognise students who have shown determination, resilience and humour in overcoming adversity and disability'.
6th December 2006
Leeds scientists are starting the search for a new weapon in the fight against foot and mouth disease (FMD).
3rd November 2006
A University of Leeds team mows away to win the Bioscience Young Entrepreneurs Scheme 2006.
11th October 2006
Dr Ian Wood (IMSB) has been appointed to the Genes Theme Panels for the Biochemical Society.
5th October 2006
Dr Jonathan Wood (Leeds 2002) won the coveted FameLab, a national competition run by Channel 4 and The Telegraph to find the science communicators of the future.
5th October 2006
Professor Jens Krause (IICB) has just published a new book entitled Fish Cognition and Behavior.
19th September 2006
Dr Mohamed Dawo, from the Institute of Integrative and Comparative Biology, has been invited to the International Council for Science to review issues relating to Africa.
18th September 2006
Stephen Gilbert, a 1st year PhD student in the IMSB, was interviewed for a feature about his work on computational modelling of the heart.
18th September 2006
One of the Featured Presentations for the Ion Channels session of Discovery on Target 2006 will be from Professor David Beech, IMSB Research Director.
18th September 2006
Work by Dr Simon Goodman on the ecology of the Galapagos Archipelagos is featured in a news article in Science
11th September 2006
The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is the largest investor in research for the Faculty, awarding a total of 25 grants to the value of £4.82 million for the academic year 2005-2006.
6th September 2006
Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology:
The Proteolysis Research Group led by Professor Nigel Hooper has had several publications accepted this summer.
4th September 2006
A historic agreement has been signed in Beijing by Faculty's Pro-Dean of Research Professor Phil Gilmartin and his Chinese counterpart Professor Yongbiao Xue to setup the first virtual laboratory between Leeds and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
4th September 2006
Postdocs from the Institute of Membrane and Systems Biology attended the first ever PostDoc Away Day, an initiative setup to give postdocs the opportunity to meet each other, present their research and share ideas.
3rd August 2006
Mary Phillips-Jones (Astbury Centre) is the organiser of a symposium entitled "Imaging microbial systems: from whole micro-organism to single molecules" at the September meeting of the Society for General Microbiology.
31st May 2006
Michael Walker has won third prize for his talk at the recent Integrative Physiology Post-Graduate Conference
8th May 2006
3 PhD students from Leeds presented posters at SET for Bioscience in the House of Commons.
7th April 2006
Simon Goodman has been awarded two Darwin Initiative grants.
4th April 2006
Dr Harry Rossiter will be co-chairing a symposium with Dr Russell Hepple at the 2006 Experimental Biology Annual Conference
30th March 2006
Sandra Jones was invited to give a talk at the University of Florida, Gainesville.
30th March 2006
Dr Harry Rossiter and Dr Stephen garland of The English Institute of Sport comment on race strategy for the Oxford, Cambridge Boat Race
2nd March 2006
Sue Ward and Brian Whipp are co-organisers of the European Respiratory Society School Course
1st March 2006
Brian Whipp has been invited to speak at UCLA
8th February 2006
Alison Dunn was part of a successful National Science Foundation application.
1st February 2006
Alison Dunn and her colleagues have had their work on Microsporidia featured in Planet Earth, NERC's quarterly magazine
1st February 2006
Emeritus Professor Mike Forbes had edited a new book on ruminant digestion and metabolism.
24th January 2006
Stephen Compton has just had a small parasitic wasp named after him.
12th January 2006
CRISTAL hosted the annual meeting of the Northern Cardiovascular Research Group.
1st January 2006
Dennis Wray has co-written a book chapter with Louisa Stevens
13th December 2005
Robert Ker was Keynote Speaker at the Mechanics of Biomaterials and Tissues
1st December 2005
New Lecturer in Neuroscience.
22nd November 2005
Dr Harry Rossiter has been awarded Fellowship of the American College of Sports Medicine
22nd November 2005
Tim Benton, Steve Sait and Bill Kunin have received funding from Rural Economy and Land Use.
17th November 2005
Martin Richards recently talked to BBC Radio 4's Analysis.
15th November 2005
Simon Goodman has been awarded a grant of US$90,000 from Agip-KCO.
15th November 2005
Professor Sue Ward has recently been appointed to the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK: Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan, Panel of Advisors
8th November 2005
1st November 2005
Joanne Tipper has been invited to join the EPSRC peer review college (2006?2009).
1st November 2005
Jens Krause and Darren Croft have recently signed a new book contract ..
28th October 2005
Simon Goodman recently gave an invited presentation at the 22nd Symposium of the Society of Population Ecology
19th October 2005
15th October 2005
1st October 2005
Nigel Hooper has been appointed to the MRC New Investigator Award panel.
1st October 2005
Dave Westhead has recently been appointed to serve on the BBSRC?s Biomolecular Sciences (BMS) panel.
1st October 2005
Alison Ashcroft sat on the BBSRC?s Research Equipment Initiative Panel in October 2005.
1st October 2005
1st October 2005
German Research Foundation appointment.
1st October 2005
Dennis Wray was an invited speaker and chairman of a session
4th September 2005
Bordoli Prize winner.
1st August 2005
Paul Knox has been promoted to a chair in Plant Cell Biology with effect from 1 August 2005.
1st August 2005
Judith Smith has been promoted to a chair in Parasitology, with effect from 1 August 2005.
1st August 2005
The Committee on Readerships has conferred the title and status of Reader upon ...
1st August 2005
Mary Phillips-Jones (Structural Biology) and Sreenivasan (Vas) Ponnambalam (Molecular Cell Biology) have both been promoted to Senior Lecturer, with effect from 1 August 2005.
1st June 2005
A First Class Technician
1st June 2005
Dr Sue Deuchars has been appointed Academic Fellow in FBS. This position is highly appropriate for Sue?s internationally competitive research portfolio
1st June 2005
Jim Deuchars has been appointed Professor of Systems Neuroscience. This promotion reflects the esteem in which Jim is held nationally and internationally, and is also recognition of his excellent work for Leeds.
1st June 2005
Congratulations to Sheena Radford in being awarded the Royal Society of Chemistry Award in Peptides and Proteins for her "outstanding contributions to the understanding of protein folding mechanisms .."
1st June 2005
First book ..
23rd May 2005
Rank Prize Funds Conference
1st May 2005
Review lecture: ?New insights into the pathophysiology of renal control of acid-base balance"
1st May 2005
Michelle Peckham has been appointed as the Faculty Director of Research Training. She will have responsibility for generic skills training for PhD students and post docs across the Faculty.
30th April 2005
Tony Turner is the first recipient of a new award of the Biochemical Society for distinguished service to biochemistry and to the Society.
30th April 2005
David Westhead has been awarded a three year Research Development Fellowship by the BBSRC to continue working in the area of molecular networks in plants and parasites.
30th April 2005
Alison Baker has been awarded a Leverhulme Research Fellowship for 12 months on 'Chemical genetics and peroxisome protein traffic'
30th April 2005
Young Investigator Award for Research in Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.
26th April 2005
Aadil El-Turabi has recently been awarded a Bioscience Yorkshire Enterprise Fellowship to further his research into Immunisation and was featured in a Yorkshire Post article on 26 April 2005
28th January 2005
Global food demand is expected to double by 2050, but how do we reconcile the need for increased agricultural production with the conservation of biodiversity?