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 Richard Fox

Richard Fox

PhD Research Student

 01626 368385



I am a professional ecologist working in biodiversity conservation and a long-time butterfly and moth enthusiast (on twitter as @RichardFoxBC). I have worked for the UK charity Butterfly Conservation ( since 1997, leading their work on butterfly and moth recording schemes and citizen science. I have been involved in a large number of research collaborations utilising the data gathered through these schemes and am continuing this work for my PhD by Publication at Exeter University.

Broad research specialisms:

  • Insect ecology
  • Biodiversity conservation
  • Climate change impacts on biodiversity
  • Citizen science


1990 B.A. Zoology, University of Oxford
1992 M.Sc. Nature Conservation, University College London


Research projects

Project Title: Citizen science and Lepidoptera biodiversity change in Great Britain

Supervisors: Dr Ilya Maclean, Dr Robert Wilson

Project Description:
In my PhD by Publication, I intend to investigate three main areas relating to citizen science and trends in GB Lepidoptera:

A). Trends and drivers of change in GB macro-moth biodiversity

  • Review the evidence for trends and drivers of change in moths in GB and elsewhere
  • Utilise opportunistic distribution records gathered through citizen science, the National Moth Recording Scheme (NMRS), to estimate quantitative long-term trends and threat status for GB macro-moths
  • Assess empirical trends for moths in light of expected drivers of biodiversity change such as land-use and climatic change

B). Efficacy of mass-participation citizen science

  • Determine whether a mass-participation citizen science scheme, Big Butterfly Count, can produce robust GB butterfly species population growth estimates through comparison with trends derived from standardised monitoring, the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme

C). Views and motivations of citizen scientists

  • Determine via questionnaire surveys the views of citizen scientists participating in GB butterfly and moth recording schemes


Macgregor, C.J., Kitson, J.J.N., Fox, R., Hahn, C., Lunt, D.H., Pocock, M.J.O. & Evans, D.M. (2018). Construction, validation, and application of nocturnal pollen transport networks in an agro-ecosystem: a comparison using light microscopy and DNA metabarcoding. Ecological Entomology DOI: 10.1111/een.12674

Suggitt, A.J., Wilson, R.J., Isaac, N.J.B., Beale, C.M., Auffret, A.G., August, T., Bennie, J.J., Crick, H.Q.P., Duffield, S., Fox, R., Hopkins, J.J., Macgregor, N.A., Morecroft, M.D., Walker, K.J. & Maclean, I.M.D. (2018). Extinction risk from climate change is reduced by microclimatic buffering. Nature Climate Change 8, 713-717.

Dennis, E.B., Morgan, B.J.T., Brereton, T.M., Roy, D.B. & Fox, R. (2017). Using citizen science butterfly counts to predict species population trends. Conservation Biology 31, 1350-1361.

Macgregor, C.J., Evans, D.M., Fox, R. & Pocock, M.J.O. (2017). The dark side of street lighting: impacts on moths and evidence for the disruption of nocturnal pollen transport. Global Change Biology 23, 697-707.

Palmer, G., Platts, P.J., Brereton, T., Chapman, J.W., Dytham, C., Fox, R., Pearce-Higgins, J.W., Roy, D.B., Hill, J.K. & Thomas, C.D. (2017). Climate change, climatic variation and extreme biological responses. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 372, 20160144.

Mason, S.C., Palmer, G., Fox, R., Gillings, S., Hill, J.K., Thomas, C.D. & Oliver, T.H. (2015). Geographical range margins of a wide range of taxonomic groups continue to shift polewards. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 115, 586-597.

Fox, R., Oliver, T.H., Harrower, C., Parsons, M.S., Thomas, C.D. & Roy, D.B. (2014). Long-term changes to the frequency of occurrence of British moths are consistent with opposing and synergistic effects of climate and land-use changes. Journal of Applied Ecology 51:949-957.

Mair, L., Hill, J.K., Fox, R., Botham, M., Brereton, T. & Thomas, C.D. (2014).  Abundance changes and habitat availability drive species’ responses to climate change. Nature Climate Change 4, 127-131.

Fox, R. (2013). The decline of moths in Great Britain: a review of possible causes. Insect Conservation and Diversity 6:5-19.

Full publications list at


Supervision / Group

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