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Landscape and Biodiversity Research Group

Prof. Jeff Ollerton

University of Northampton

Professor of Biodiversity

Tel: +44 (0)1604 893 365

Dr Jeff Ollerton in Tanzania

The ecology, evolution and conservation the Earth's biodiversity defines the broad scope of my professional interests. Within this vast field I mainly (though not exclusively) work on mutualistic species interactions, in which all participants benefit from the relationship. Mutualisms are hugely important ecological relationships that play key roles in determining community structure and ecosystem function, as well as being the basis for ecosystem services of human value. My research involves field, laboratory and theoretical investigations, with a particular emphasis on plant-pollinator relationships, pollinator diversity, plant reproductive biology, and the evolution of flowers.

As you will see from the range of research that I publish, however, I've also got interests beyond mutualisms, addressing wider questions related to how we conserve biodiversity within a rapidly changing environment. This is also reflected in the research and writing I do within the area of the history of human understanding and exploitation of biodiversity, specifically botanical science and horticultural exploration.

As a member of the Landscape and Biodiversity Research Group at the University of Northampton, research in the U.K., Australia, Africa, Tenerife and South America has been funded by grants and in-kind contributions from a range of sources.

Collaborations with British and international researchers, particularly PhD, MSc and undergraduate project students, have been incredibly important to the development of my research and continue to be one of the most enjoyable aspects of this work.

At the moment I am an Academic Editor for PLoS ONE and a founding member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Pollination Ecology.

As well as the formal academic side of my work, I've acted as consultant for a number of BBC programmes and cinema documentaries, and regularly give talks to local natural history and gardening societies.

And when I'm not researching and teaching? I have three kids, an interest in music, collecting books and gardening, and frequent cinema trips to keep me busy.

I maintain a personal blog at:


Ollerton, J., Erenler, H., Edwards, M. & Crockett, R. (2014) Extinctions of aculeate pollinators in Britain and the role of large-scale agricultural changes.  Science 346: 1360-1362

Ollerton, J. (2013) The Biodiversity Index – a tool for facilities management.  Essential FM Report 109: 2-3 (pdf 202KB)

Rahman, L. Md., Tarrant, S., McCollin, D., Ollerton, J. (2013) Plant community composition and attributes reveal conservation implications for newly created grassland on capped landfill sites. Journal for Nature Conservation 21: 198-205 (pdf 754KB)

Parker, W. & Ollerton, J. (2013) Immunology enlightened by evolutionary biology and anthropology: an approach necessary for public health. Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health in press (pdf 450KB)

Ollerton, J. & Nuttman, C. (2013) Aggressive displacement of Xylocopa nigrita carpenter bees from flowers of Lagenaria sphaerica (Cucurbitaceae) by territorial male Eastern Olive Sunbirds (Cyanomitra olivacea) in Tanzania. Journal of Pollination Ecology 11: 21-26 (pdf 310KB)

Dalsgaard, B., Trøjelsgaard, K, Martín González, A.M., Nogués-Bravo, D., Ollerton, J., Petanidou, T., Sandel, B., Schleuning, M., Wang, Z., Rahbek, C., Sutherland, W.J., Svenning, J.C. & Olesen, J.M. (2013) Historical climate-change influences modularity of pollination networks. Ecography in press (pdf 3.5MB)

Ollerton, J. (2012) The names of pubs and inns: not just for the birds. Bulletin of the British Ecological Society 43: 46-47 (pdf 166KB)

Vanbergen, A.J., Ambrose, N., Aston, D., Biesmeijer, J.C., Bourke, A., Breeze, T., Brotherton, P., Brown, M., Chandler, D., Clook, M., Connolly, C.N., Costigan, P., Coulson, M., Cresswell, J., Dean, R., Dicks, L., Felicioli, A., Fojt, O., Gallai, N., Genersch, E., Godfray, C., Grieg-Gran, M., Halstead, A., Harding, D., Harris, B., Hartfield, C., Heard, M.S., Herren, B., Howarth, J., Ings, T., Kleijn, D., Klein, A., Kunin, W.E., Lewis, G., MacEwen, A., Maus, C., McIntosh, L., Millar, N.S., Neumann, P., Ollerton, J., Olschewski, R., Osborne, J.L., Paxton, R.J., Pettis, J., Phillipson, B., Potts, S.G., Pywell, R., Rasmont, P., Roberts, S., Salles, J.-M., Schweiger, O., Sima, P., Thompson, H., Titera, D., Vaissiere, B., Van der Sluijs, J., Webster, S., Wentworth, J. & Wright, G.A. (2012) Insect pollinators: linking research and policy. Workshop report, U.K. Science and Innovation Network. (pdf 1MB)

Tarrant, S., Ollerton, J., Rahman, L. Md., Griffin, J. & McCollin, D. (2012) Grassland restoration on landfill sites in the East Midlands, UK: an evaluation of floral resources and pollinating insects. Restoration Ecology  in press (pdf 670KB)

Ollerton, J. (2012) Biogeography: Are Tropical Species Less Specialised? Current Biology 22: R914-R915 (pdf 192KB)

Ollerton, J., Watts, S., Connerty, S., Lock, J., Parker, L., Wilson, I., Schueller, S., Nattero, J., Cocucci, A.A., Izhaki, I., Geerts, S. & Pauw, A. (2012) Pollination ecology of the invasive tree tobacco Nicotiana glauca: comparisons across native and non-native ranges. Journal of Pollination Ecology 9: 85-95. (pdf 292KB)

Ollerton, J., Chancellor, G. & van Wyhe, J. (2012) John Tweedie and Charles Darwin in Buenos Aires. Notes and Records of the Royal Society in press (pdf 209KB)

Ollerton, J., Price, V., Armbruster, W.S., Memmott, J., Watts, S., Waser, N.M., Totland, Ø., Goulson, D., Alarcón, R., Stout, J.S. & Tarrant, S. (2012) Overplaying the role of honey bees as pollinators: A comment on Aebi and Neumann (2011). Trends in Ecology and Evolution in press (pdf 91KB)

Munguía-Rosas, M.A., Parra-Tabla, V., Ollerton, J. & Cervera, C. (2011) Environmental control of reproductive phenology and the effect of pollen supplementation on resource allocation in the cleistogamous weed, Ruellia nudiflora (Acanthaceae). Annals of Botany 2011; doi: 10.1093/aob/mcr284 (pdf 259KB)

Cranmer, L., McCollin, D. & Ollerton, J. (2011) Landscape structure influences pollinator movements and directly affects plant reproductive success. Oikos (pdf 640KB)

Dalsgaard, B., Magård, E., Fjeldså, J., Martín González, A.M., Rahbek, C., Olesen, J.M., Ollerton, J., Alarcón, R., Araujo, A.C., Cotton, P., Lara, C., Machado, C.C., Sazima, I., Sazima, M., Timmermann, A., Watts, S., Sandel, B., Sutherland, W.J., Svenning, J.C. (2011) Specialization in plant-hummingbird networks and the legacy of spatiotemporal climatic stability during the Late Quaternary. PLoS ONE 6(10): e25891. (pdf 210KB)

Parra-Tabla, V., Vargas C.F., Naval, C., Calvo, L.M. & Ollerton, J. (2011) Population status, reproductive success, and pollen limitation in an endangered epiphytic tropical orchid found in a fragmented landscape. Biotropica 43: 640-647 (pdf 183KB)

Rahman, Md L., Tarrant, S., McCollin, D. and Ollerton, J. (2011) The conservation value of restored landfill sites in the East Midlands, UK for supporting bird communities. Biodiversity and Conservation 20: 1879-1893 (pdf 417KB)

Watts, S., Huamán Ovalle, D., Moreno Herrera, M. & Ollerton, J. (2011) Pollinator effectiveness of native and non-native flower visitors to an apparently generalist Andean shrub, Duranta mandonii (Verbenaceae). Plant Species Biology in press (pdf 533KB)

Munguía-Rosas, M.A. Ollerton, J. Parra-Tabla, V. & Arturo De-Nova, J. (2011) Meta-analysis of phenotypic selection on flowering phenology suggests that early flowering plants are favoured. Ecology Letters 14: 511-521 (pdf 309KB).

Munguía-Rosas, M.A. Ollerton, J. & Parra-Tabla, V. (2011) Phenotypic selection on flowering phenology and size of two dioecious plant species with different pollen vectors. Plant Species Biology 26: 205-212 (pdf 281KB)

Mayer, C., Adler, L., Armbruster, W.S. Dafni, A., Eardley, C., Huang, S.-Q., Kevan, P.G., Ollerton, J. , Packer, L. Ssymank, A., Stout, J.C. & Potts, S.G. (2011) Pollination ecology in the 21st century: key questions for future research.  Journal of Pollination Ecology 3: 8-23 (pdf 426KB).

Waser, N.M., Ollerton, J. & Erhardt, A. (2011) Typology in pollination biology:  lessons from an historical critique. Journal of Pollination Ecology 3: 1-7 (pdf 728KB)

Ollerton, J., Tarrant, S. & Winfree, R. (2011) How many flowering plants are pollinated by animals?  Oikos   120: 321–326 (pdf 110KB).

Dalsgaard, B., Timmermann, A., Martín González, A.M., Olesen, J.M, Ollerton, J. & Andersen, L.H. (2011) Heliconia -hummingbird interactions in the Lesser Antilles: a geographic mosaic? Caribbean Journal of Science in press

Ollerton, J. (2010) W(h)ither science? Dark Mountain 1: 146-149 (pdf 68KB)

Dalsgaard, B., Timmermann, A., Martín González, A.M., Olesen, J.M., Ollerton, J. and Andersen, L.H. (2010) Heliconia-hummingbird interactions in the Lesser Antilles: a geographic mosaic? Caribbean Journal of Science (in press).

Erenler, H.E., Ashton, P., Gillman, M. and Ollerton, J. (2010) Factors determining species richness of soil seed banks in lowland ancient woodlands. Biodiversity and Conservation (in press)

Ricciardi, F., Boyer, M and Ollerton, J. (2010) Assemblage and interaction structure of the anemonefish-anemone mutualism across the Manado region of Sulawesi, Indonesia. Environmental Biology of Fishes 87: 333-347 (pdf 365KB).

Ollerton, J. and Coulthard, E. (2009) Evolution of animal pollination. Science 326: 808-809 (pdf 234KB)

Ollerton, J., Alarcón, R., Waser, N.M., Price, M.V., Watts, S., Cranmer, L., Hingston, A. Peter, C.I. and Rotenberry, J. (2009) A global test of the pollination syndrome hypothesis. Annals of Botany 103: 1471-1480. (pdf 588KB) [Appendix 1 (pdf 18KB)] [Appendix 2 (pdf 60KB)] [Appendix 3 (pdf 35KB)] [Appendix 4 (pdf 65KB)]

Ollerton J., Masinde S., Meve U., Picker M., Whittington A. (2009) Fly pollination in Ceropegia (Apocynaceae: Asclepiadoideae): biogeographic and phylogenetic perspectives. Annals of Botany (in press) (pdf 380KB)

Dalsgaard, B, Martín González, AM, Olesen, JM, Ollerton, J, Timmermann, A, Andersen, LH, & Tossas, AG. (2009) Plant-hummingbird interactions in the West Indies: floral specialisation gradients associated with environment and hummingbird size. Oecologia 159:757-766 (pdf 290KB)

Ollerton, J., Cranmer, L., Stelzer, R., Sullivan, S. and Chittka, L. (2009) Bird pollination of Canary Island endemic plants. Naturwissenschaften 96: 221-232 (pdf 291KB)

Alarcón, R., Waser, N.M. and Ollerton, J. (2008) Year-to-year variation in the topology of a plant-pollinator interaction network. Oikos 117: 1796-1807 (pdf 229KB)

Ollerton, J. (2008) Blogging from Bonn – a personal account of the pre-COP9 meeting: “Biodiversity Research – Safeguarding the Future”. Bulletin of the British Ecological Society 39: 35-38 (pdf 1.8MB)

Ollerton, J. (2008) A Review of: “Ecology and Evolution of Flowers” by L.D. Harder & S.C.H. Barrett. Systematic Biology 57: 516 — 517. (pdf 39KB)

Dalsgaard, B., Martín González, A.M., Olesen, J.M. Timmermann, A., Andersen, L.H. and Ollerton, J. (2008) Pollination networks and functional specialization: a test using Lesser Antillean plant-hummingbird assemblages. Oikos (in press) (pdf 121KB)

Stelzer, R.J., Ollerton, J. & Chittka, L. (2007) Keine Nachweis für Hummelbesuch der Kanarischen Vogelblumen (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Entomologia Generalis 30: 153-154. (pdf 41KB)

Ollerton, J.,Grace, J., & Smith, K. (2007). Pollinator Behaviour and Adaptive Floral Colour Change in Anthopora alluadii (Hymenoptera: Apidae) and Erysimum scoparium (Brassicaceae) on Tenerife. Entomologia Generalis 29: 253-268. (pdf 3.4MB)

Ollerton,J., Killick, A., Lamborn, E., Watts, S. & Whiston, M. (2007) Multiple meanings and modes: on the many ways to be a generalist flower. Taxon 56: 717-728 (pdf 283KB)

Ollerton, J., Stott, A., Allnutt, E., Shove, S., Taylor, C. and Lamborn, E. (2007) Pollination niche overlap between a parasitic plant and its host. Oecologia 151: 473-485. (pdf 520KB)

Ollerton, J., McCollin, D., Fautin, D.G & Allen, G.R. (2007) Finding NEMO – nestedness engendered by mutualistic organisation in anemonefish and their hosts. Proceedings of the Royal Society series B 274: 591-598 (pdf 226KB)

Ollerton, J. & Raguso, R. (2006) "The sweet stench of decay" New Phytologist 172: 382-385. (pdf 135KB)

Ollerton, J. (2006) "Biological Barter”: patterns of specialization compared across different mutualisms. Pp. 411—435 in: Waser, N.M. & Ollerton, J. (eds.) Plant-Pollinator Interactions: from Specialization to Generalization. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, USA. (pdf 4.5MB)

Ollerton, J. Johnson, S.D. & Hingston, A.B. (2006) Geographical variation in diversity and specificity of pollination systems. Pp. 283—308 in: Waser, N.M. & Ollerton, J. (eds.) Plant-Pollinator Interactions: from Specialization to Generalization. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, USA. (pdf 4.5MB)

Waser, N.M & Ollerton, J. (2006) Plant-pollinator interactions: from specialization to generalization. University of Chicago Press, USA. (pdf 21KB)

Ollerton, J. and Dafni, A. (2005) Functional floral morphology and phenology. pp. 1-26 in: Dafni, A., P.G. Kevan & Husband, B.C. (Eds.) Practical Pollination Biology. Enviroquest, Cambridge, Ontario.

Ollerton, J. (2005) News & Commentary: Flowering time and the Wallace Effect. Heredity 95: 181-182. (pdf 845KB)

Ollerton J., Johnson S. D., Cranmer, L. and Kellie, S. (2003) The pollination ecology of an assemblage of grassland asclepiads in South Africa. Annals of Botany 92: 807-834. (pdf 1MB)

Ollerton, J. & Liede, S. (2003) Corona structure in Cynanchum: linking morphology to function. Ecotropica 9: 107-112. (pdf 125KB)

Ollerton, J. (2002) Book review: Vuorisalo, T.O. & Mutikainen, P.K. (eds.) Life History Evolution in Plants. Plant Systematics and Evolution 232: 138-141. (pdf 72KB)

Ollerton, J. & Cranmer, L. (2002) Latitudinal trends in plant-pollinator interactions: are tropical plants more specialized? Oikos 98: 340-350 (pdf 131KB)

Ollerton, J. and Watts, S. (2000) Phenotype space and floral typology: towards an objective assessment of pollination syndromes. Det Norske Videnskaps-Akademi I. Matematisk-Naturvitenskapelig Klasse, Avhandlinger, Ny Serie 39: 149-159. (pdf 1.8MB)

Lamborn, E. & Ollerton, J. (2000) Experimental assessment of the functional morphology of inflorescences of Daucus carota (Apiaceae): testing the "fly catcher effect". Functional Ecology 14: 445-454. (pdf 536KB)

Ollerton, J. (1999) The evolution of pollinator-plant relationships within the arthropods. pp. 741-758 in Melic, A., DeHaro, J.J., Mendez, M. & Ribera, I. (eds.) Evolution and Phylogeny of the Arthropoda. Entomological Society of Aragon, Zaragoza. (pdf 9.0MB)

Ollerton, J. (1999) Fly trapping in Ceropegia flowers - evidence of ant predation of pollinators. Asklepios 77: 31-32 (pdf 858KB)

Ollerton, J. & Diaz, A. (1999) Evidence for stabilising selection acting on flowering time in Arum maculatum (Araceae): the influence of phylogeny on adaptation. Oecologia 119: 340-348 (pdf 4.1MB)

Kite, G.C., Hetterscheid, W.L.A., Lewis, M.J., Boyce, P.C., Ollerton, J., Cocklin, E., Diaz, A., & Simmonds, M.S.J. (1998) Inflorescence odours and pollinators of Arum and Amorphophallus (Araceae). pp. 295-315 in Owens, S.J. & Rudall, P.J. (eds.) Reproductive Biology in Systematics, Conservation and Economic Botany. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. (pdf 5.5MB)

Ollerton, J. (1998) Sunbird surprise for syndromes. Nature 394: 726-727 (pdf 717KB)

Ollerton, J. & McCollin, D. (1998) Insect and angiosperm diversity in marine environments: a response to van der Hage. Functional Ecology 12: 976-977. (pdf 415KB)

Ollerton, J. & A.J. Lack (1998) Relationships between flowering phenology, plant size and reproductive success in Lotus corniculatus (Fabaceae). Plant Ecology 139: 35-47. (pdf 133KB)

Ollerton, J. & Liede, S. (1997) Pollination systems in the Asclepiadaceae: a survey and preliminary analysis. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 62: 593-610. (pdf 326KB)

Goulson, D., Ollerton, J. & Sluman, C. (1997) Foraging strategies in the small skipper butterfly, Thymelicus flavus; when to switch? Animal Behaviour 53: 1009-1016. (pdf 253KB)

Ollerton, J. (1996) Reconciling ecological processes with phylogenetic patterns: the apparent paradox of plant-pollinator systems. Journal of Ecology 84: 767-769. (pdf 554KB)

Ollerton, J. (1996) Interactions between gall midges (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae) and inflorescences of Piper novae-hollandiae (Piperaceae) in Australia. The Entomologist 115: 181-184. (pdf 2.2MB)

Ollerton, J. & Lack, A.J. (1996) Partial predispersal seed predation in Lotus corniculatus L. (Fabaceae). Seed Science Research 6: 65-69. (pdf 2.5MB)

Waser, N.M., Chittka, L., Price, M.V., Williams, N. & Ollerton, J. (1996) Generalization in pollination systems, and why it matters. Ecology 77: 1043-1060. (pdf 2.0MB)

Ollerton, J. & Forster, P. (1995) Diptera associated with flowers of Ceropegia cumingiana in Australia. Asklepios 66: 21-22 (pdf 751KB)

Ollerton, J. & Lack, A.J. (1992) Flowering phenology: an example of relaxation of natural selection? Trends in Ecology and Evolution 7: 274-276. (pdf 2.1MB)