Marsh Award for Marine and Freshwater Conservation

2013 - Dr David Bilton

David Bilton, pictured right, is an exceptional researcher whose work has implications for our understanding of large-scale ecological patterns, and conservation. David has a wide range of research interests covering many groups of animals, including seabirds, aquatic bugs, woodlice, marine invertebrates and small mammals, plus excursions into coastal vegetation. However, it is his expertise and specialism in water beetles that really marks him out as a significant figure in biological conservation. David uniquely uses water beetles as systems for obtaining broader insights and has gained an international reputation in the ecology, conservation biology and biogeography of aquatic organisms. David has developed a comprehensive and truly multidisciplinary research programme that includes molecular ecology, ecophysiology, community structure, macroecology, population genetics and climate change.

David has published over 140 scientific papers, many of which are very highly cited by his peers. He has made seminal contributions to our understanding of historical biogeography, including the recognition of northern refugia for temperate taxa, and more recently has worked extensively on the link between organismal physiology and range size, showing that rare and common species often differ fundamentally in their thermal biology – work which has clear implications for our understanding of responses to global change.

A particular strength is the way in which David combines his expertise in the natural history and taxonomy of water beetles with identifying the ecological and evolutionary drivers of organismal diversity and distribution, and by extension, conservation biology. An appreciation of David’s research contributions is proven by the fact that six species of aquatic beetles and other invertebrates have been named after him! He has also described over 20 new species himself, from various parts of the world. His new co-authored guide to aquatic-beetle identification will be welcomed by policy makers and amateur enthusiasts, as well as fellow scientists. He fully deserves this award.


The Zoological Society of London
Regent's Park