© Matt Jessop


Kevin J. Gaston , D.Phil.

Professor of Biodiversity and Conservation

University of Exeter

Born in 1964 in Pembury, United Kingdom
Studied Biology at the University of York and Zoology at the University of Sheffield


The Ecology of the Night

Most animals are nocturnal. That is, they largely or exclusively confine their activities to the nighttime. By contrast, ecological researchers - those who study the abundance and distributions of species and the underlying mechanisms - belong to a diurnal (day-active) species and have focused their research predominantly on diurnal animals. Indeed, only c. 1% of recent published research papers in ecology concern nocturnal organisms. This project will address this imbalance, determining to what extent, and in what ways, this understandable and perhaps inevitable research bias has influenced understanding of the Earth's ecology. The project will particularly exploit recent growth in research on nocturnal ecology that has been stimulated by concerns about the effects of the widespread introduction of artificial nighttime lighting (especially from streetlights), which has in effect constituted a global experiment in the consequences of the erosion of the nighttime. Given the immense pressures and demands on natural ecosystems from a large and growing global human population, robust ecological insights are vitally important and increasingly depended on in making policy and management decisions. The project will evaluate in what ways a more appropriately balanced viewpoint might shape these insights and the consequences this might have.

Recommended Reading

Gaston, K. J. (2003). The structure and dynamics of geographic ranges. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
-. (2000). "Global patterns in biodiversity." Nature 405: 220-227.
Gaston, K. J. and Blackburn, T. M. (2000). Pattern and process in macroecology. Oxford: Blackwell Science.

Publications from the Fellow Library

Gaston, Kevin J. ( )
The Wissenschaftskolleg Biodiversity Project : priority areas analysis Jahrbuch 1993/94