Professor David Macdonald

Research Interests

I am interested in the scientific underpinning of practical and policy solutions to problems in wildlife conservation. Although my background is in the behavioural ecology of mammals, my research currently spans taxa ranging from mammals to moths, and is inter-disciplinary (including teams involving environmental economics and the social sciences). Much of my research is stimulated by conflict between people and wildlife, whether it be through predation, infectious disease or invasive species.

In these contexts my team works on long-term data sets on badgers, lions, mink and Ethiopian wolves. A threat uniting many aspects of our research is the ecological basis of social organization, with particular reference to the impacts of both resource dispersion and perturbation. We have special expertise with the Carnivora, and our emphasis on the Felidae currently involves research on Scottish wildcats (problems of hybridisation), lions (problems with trophy hunting and stock-raiding), tigers and leopards (stock-raiding), and the impact of logging on Bornean felids, together with work on the impact of perceptions and attitudes regarding both pumas and jaguars.


Additional Information

I founded the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit in 1986. Its aim was, and remains, to undertake original research on aspects of fundamental biology relevant to solving practical problems of wildlife conservation and environmental management, and thus to underpin policy formation and public debate of the many issues that surround the conservation of wildlife and its habitats. 

Amongst other things I am currently a Visiting Professor at Imperial College, chair of Darwin Advisory Committee, chair of Natural England’s Science Advisory Committee and board member, a Trustee of Earthwatch, and council member of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.


Selected Publications

Rasmussen GSA, Gusset M, Courchamp F, and Macdonald DW. 2008. Achilles' heel of sociality revealed by energetic poverty trap in cursorial hunters. The American Naturalist 172(4).

Macdonald DW, Newman C, Buesching CD, Johnson PJ. 2008. Male-biased movements in a high-density population of the Eurasian badger (meles meles) J of Mammalogy 89(5):1077-1086

Macdonald DW & Johnson PJ 2008. Sex ratio variation and mixed pairs in roe deer: evidence for control of sex allocation? Oecologia online.

Driscoll CA, Menotti-Raymond M, Roca AL, Hupe K, Johnson WE, Geffen E, Harley EH, Delibes M, Pontier D, Kitchener AC, Yamaguchi N, O'Brien SJ, Macdonald DW. 2007. The near eastern origin of cat domestication. Science 317:519-523.

Harris DB, Macdonald DW. 2007. Interference competition between introduced black rats and endemic Galápagos rice rats. Ecology Published online.

Randall DA, Pollinger JP, Wayne R, Tallents LA, Johnson P, Macdonald DW. 2007. Inbreeding is reduced by female-biased dispersal and mating behavior in Ethiopian wolves. Behavioural Ecology Published online.

Macdonald DW, Service KM, (Editors). 2007. Key Topics in Conservation Biology. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd. 307 p.

Macdonald DW, Riordan P, Mathews F. 2006. Biological hurdles to the control of TB in cattle: A test of two hypothesis concerning wildlife to explain the failure of control. Biological Conservation 131(2):268-286.

Macdonald DW & Sillero-Zubiri C (eds). 2004. The biology and conservation of wild canids. Oxford: OUP 450p

List of site pages