Jane Memmott

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Jane Memmott OBE Hon.FRES is an ecologist and entomologist from the United Kingdom. She is professor of ecology at the University of Bristol. Her research focuses on community ecology and she is an expert on the interactions between insect pollinators and plants. [1]


Jane Memmott

Alma mater University of Leeds (BSc, PhD)
Scientific career
Institutions University of Bristol

Education and career

Memmott attended the University of Leeds where she studied zoology in the early 1980s. She continued her studies at Leeds, where she eventually obtained her PhD. She also worked on the community ecology of phlebotomine sandflies, doing fieldwork in Costa Rica. As a postdoctoral researcher she constructed the first food webs in tropical ecosystems, looking at plants, leaf-miners, and parasitoids, [2] working with Charles Godfray. [3] She furthermore did research of invasive plants in New Zealand.

In 1996 Memmott transferred to the University of Bristol as a lecturer. In 2012 she was appointed Head of the School of Biological Sciences where she oversaw the school's transition to a new Life Sciences building. [4]


Memmott's studies a wide range of areas in ecology including pollination ecology, invasion ecology, agro-ecology, biological control, urban ecology, and restoration ecology. [1]

Her work in urban habitats includes the urban pollinators project (part of the Insect Pollinators Initiative [5] ). In this project, Memmot and her team sample insect pollinators in 1 km long transects in urban areas. [6] They found that private residential gardens, allotments, and community gardens had a higher abundance of insect pollinators than public amenity gardens, such as parks and road verges. [7]

Memmott is an advocate of providing resources in urban habitats to sustain pollinators. [8] In particular she advocates for growing areas of wildflowers, which have plants with more nectar and pollen than many cultivated plant varieties. Memmott found that these areas of wildflowers can provide more foraging resources for pollinators. [9]

She has also studied the way in which resources available to insect pollinators have changed over the past century as well as the changes that occur over a one-year period. In her research of long-term vegetation surveys she found that nectar resources in the UK declined up to the 1970s, during agricultural intensification, but since then resources have increased. [10] On a smaller timescale, Memmott found a potential for mismatch in the timing between flowering plants and the flight times of pollinators that visit them through the year. [11]

Memmott also researches agroecosystems. Her research has shown that there are significant gaps seasonally in resources for pollinators from plants, such as pollen and nectar, in early spring and late summer; this knowledge could be used to alter the species mix of wildflower strips as part of agri-environment schemes. [12]

Honours and awards

Memmott is a reviewing editor on Science Magazine . [13]

She was awarded the Marsh Ecology Award by the Marsh Christian Trust and the British Ecological Society in 2015. [14]

In 2018 she gave the Sir John Burnett Memorial Lecture at the National Biodiversity Network annual conference. [15]

Memmott was made President Elect of the British Ecological Society in 2019, [16] and became President at the beginning of 2020. [17]

Memmott was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2021 Birthday Honours for services to insect pollinators and ecology. [18]

Related Research Articles


A pollinator is an animal that moves pollen from the male anther of a flower to the female stigma of a flower. This helps to bring about fertilization of the ovules in the flower by the male gametes from the pollen grains.

Coevolution Two or more species influencing each others evolution

In biology, coevolution occurs when two or more species reciprocally affect each other's evolution through the process of natural selection. The term sometimes is used for two traits in the same species affecting each other's evolution, as well as gene-culture coevolution.

Bumblebee Genus of insect

A bumblebee is any of over 250 species in the genus Bombus, part of Apidae, one of the bee families. This genus is the only extant group in the tribe Bombini, though a few extinct related genera are known from fossils. They are found primarily in higher altitudes or latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere, although they are also found in South America, where a few lowland tropical species have been identified. European bumblebees have also been introduced to New Zealand and Tasmania. Female bumblebees can sting repeatedly, but generally ignore humans and other animals.

Wildlife garden

A wildlife garden is an environment created by a gardener that serves as a sustainable haven for surrounding wildlife. Wildlife gardens contain a variety of habitats that cater to native and local plants, birds, amphibians, reptiles, insects, mammals and so on. Establishing a garden that emulates the environment before the residence was built and/or renders the garden similar to intact wild areas nearby (rewilding) will allow natural systems to interact and establish an equilibrium, ultimately minimizing the need for gardener maintenance and intervention. Wildlife gardens can also play an essential role in biological pest control, and also promote biodiversity, native plantings, and generally benefit the wider environment.

Pollination Biological processes occurring in plants

Pollination is the transfer of pollen from a male part of a plant to a female part of a plant, later enabling fertilisation and the production of seeds, most often by an animal or by wind. Pollinating agents are animals such as insects, birds, and bats; water; wind; and even plants themselves, when self-pollination occurs within a closed flower. Pollination often occurs within a species. When pollination occurs between species it can produce hybrid offspring in nature and in plant breeding work.

Biological interaction Any process in which an organism has an effect on another organism

In ecology, a biological interaction is the effect that a pair of organisms living together in a community have on each other. They can be either of the same species, or of different species. These effects may be short-term, like pollination and predation, or long-term; both often strongly influence the evolution of the species involved. A long-term interaction is called a symbiosis. Symbioses range from mutualism, beneficial to both partners, to competition, harmful to both partners. Interactions can be indirect, through intermediaries such as shared resources or common enemies. This type of relationship can be shown by net effect based on individual effects on both organisms arising out of relationship.

Pollinator decline

Pollinator decline is the reduction in abundance of insect and other animal pollinators in many ecosystems worldwide that began being recorded at the end of the 20th century. Multiple lines of evidence exist for the reduction of wild pollinator populations at the regional level, especially within Europe and North America. Similar findings from studies in South America, China and Japan make it reasonable to suggest that declines are occurring around the globe. The majority of studies focus on bees, particularly honeybee and bumblebee species, with a smaller number involving hoverflies and lepidopterans.

Beneficial insect

Beneficial insects are any of a number of species of insects that perform valued services like pollination and pest control. The concept of beneficial is subjective and only arises in light of desired outcomes from a human perspective. In agriculture, where the goal is to raise selected crops, insects that hinder the production process are classified as pests, while insects that assist production are considered beneficial. In horticulture and gardening, beneficial insects are often considered those that contribute to pest control and native habitat integration.

<i>Asclepias</i> Genus of flowering plants

Asclepias is a genus of herbaceous, perennial, flowering plants known as milkweeds, named for their latex, a milky substance containing cardiac glycosides termed cardenolides, exuded where cells are damaged. Most species are toxic to humans and many other species, primarily due to the presence of cardenolides, although, as with many such plants, there are species that feed upon them and from them. The genus contains over 200 species distributed broadly across Africa, North America, and South America. It previously belonged to the family Asclepiadaceae, which is now classified as the subfamily Asclepiadoideae of the dogbane family, Apocynaceae.

<i>Cirsium arvense</i> Species of flowering plant in the daisy family Asteraceae

Cirsium arvense is a perennial species of flowering plant in the family Asteraceae, native throughout Europe and western Asia, northern Africa and widely introduced elsewhere. The standard English name in its native area is creeping thistle. It is also commonly known as Canada thistle and field thistle.

Entomophily Form of pollination by insects

Entomophily or insect pollination is a form of pollination whereby pollen of plants, especially but not only of flowering plants, is distributed by insects. Flowers pollinated by insects typically advertise themselves with bright colours, sometimes with conspicuous patterns leading to rewards of pollen and nectar; they may also have an attractive scent which in some cases mimics insect pheromones. Insect pollinators such as bees have adaptations for their role, such as lapping or sucking mouthparts to take in nectar, and in some species also pollen baskets on their hind legs. This required the coevolution of insects and flowering plants in the development of pollination behaviour by the insects and pollination mechanisms by the flowers, benefiting both groups.

Ornithophily Pollination by birds

Ornithophily or bird pollination is the pollination of flowering plants by birds. This sometimes coevolutionary association is derived from insect pollination (entomophily) and is particularly well developed in some parts of the world, especially in the tropics, Southern Africa, and on some island chains. The association involves several distinctive plant adaptations forming a "pollination syndrome". The plants typically have colourful, often red, flowers with long tubular structures holding ample nectar and orientations of the stamen and stigma that ensure contact with the pollinator. Birds involved in ornithophily tend to be specialist nectarivores with brushy tongues and long bills, that are either capable of hovering flight or light enough to perch on the flower structures.

Pollination syndrome

Pollination syndromes are suites of flower traits that have evolved in response to natural selection imposed by different pollen vectors, which can be abiotic or biotic, such as birds, bees, flies, and so forth through a process called pollinator-mediated selection. These trait includes flower shape, size, colour, odour, reward type and amount, nectar composition, timing of flowering, etc. For example, tubular red flowers with copious nectar often attract birds; foul smelling flowers attract carrion flies or beetles, etc.

Native species Species indigenous to a given area in geologic time

In biogeography, a native species is indigenous to a given region or ecosystem if its presence in that region is the result of only natural processes, with no human intervention. The term is equivalent to the concept of indigenous or autochthonous species. Every wild organism is known as an introduced species within the regions where it was anthropogenically introduced. If an introduced species causes substantial ecological, environmental, and/or economic damage, it may be regarded more specifically as an invasive species.

<i>Chamaecrista fasciculata</i> Species of plant

Chamaecrista fasciculata, the partridge pea, is a species of legume native to most of the eastern United States. It is an annual which grows to approximately 0.5 meters tall. It has bright yellow flowers from early summer until first frost, with flowers through the entire flowering season if rainfall is sufficient.

Western honey bee Species of insect

The western honey bee or European honey bee is the most common of the 7–12 species of honey bees worldwide. The genus name Apis is Latin for "bee", and mellifera is the Latin for "honey-bearing", referring to the species' production of honey.

Kathy Willis British ecologist

Katherine Jane Willis is a biologist, who studies the relationship between long-term ecosystem dynamics and environmental change. She is Professor of Biodiversity in the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, and an adjunct Professor in Biology at the University of Bergen. In 2018 she was elected as Principal of St Edmund Hall, and took up this position from 1 October. She held the Tasso Leventis Chair of Biodiversity at Oxford and was founding Director, now Associate Director, of the Biodiversity Institute Oxford. Willis was Director of Science at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew from 2013-2018.

Lynn Dicks is a conservation scientist and ecologist in the UK. She is a University Lecturer in animal ecology in the Department of Zoology at the University of Cambridge, previously a Reader at the University of East Anglia, and an expert in sustainable farming and insect conservation.

Juliet Osborne is an entomologist and ecologist in the UK. She is professor of applied ecology at the University of Exeter and she looks at the health of social insects and how they pollinate plants.

Robert Raguso

Robert A. Raguso is an American biologist and professor at Cornell University in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior. He has expanded the field of chemical ecology by introducing and pioneering floral scent as a key component of plant-pollinator communication, with special focus on hawkmoths and Clarkia plants.


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